Rebecca Herold

The Privacy Professor's
Tips of the

With Memorial Day approaching, many of us will reflect on the loved ones who helped raise, shape and mentor us into adulthood. As we do, it may be tempting to dwell on how much life has changed.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be saddened by days gone by, let's challenge ourselves to become the next generation of mentors and role models. By educating ourselves on the best methods for protecting our data and information, we will lead the way for the thousands of young people coming of age in a time when
"privacy" means so many different things to many different folks and organizations.

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Memories

So many of our memories are encapsulated in still photography and videos. Losing access to those images can be devastating. Just ask a friend of mine who recently learned just how unreliable a laptop is as a storage space for a vast number of treasured photos; she recently lost hundreds when her hard drive crashed and literally seemed to burn, with smoke coming out of the sides.
Below are five steps the Privacy Professor takes to ensure safety and security of her personal and professional media:

1. Immediately upon downloading new photos or videos, I copy them to my external hard drive, a 3 TB drive dedicated solely to maintain my media files.
2. I make a second copy to a USB drive, which I promptly take to my safety deposit box. 

3. If I send a photo or video to someone via email, I CC myself so I have a third copy. (I also never send anything through email without encrypting it first if I don't want others to see it.)

4. I never post anything on a social network that is not suitable for (literally) the entire world to see. Even if a site says it's secure, no social network can ever truly keep others from seeing what you post.

5. After making two or three backup copies, and visually confirming they are indeed on those backup devices and locations, I delete my tiny memory card and re-use it until it is no longer functional.  

Leaving Loved Ones with the Best Memories

No one likes to talk about, let alone plan for, the inevitable end of their life. Yet it truly is the best way to ensure your family and friends can focus their energy on remembering the good times. Here are a few resources to get you thinking about checking this must-do item off your list.

Prepare Your Will - And on May 1, a.k.a. Law Day, you can do it at no cost thanks to ARAG.

Protect Your Online Information After Your Death - 

This has been a concern of mine for several years. In fact, I wrote about it seven years ago. Below are a few sites that claim to help you plan for the protection and/or removal of your information upon notification of your death.

NOTE: I have not verified the effectiveness of these sites, but I wanted to point out how more services such as the following are being offered:

Remember That Summer Job?

Whether it's a fond memory or one you'd rather forget, you likely recall your first summer job. Maybe you were a freedom-seeking high-schooler saving for a car; perhaps it was during college and the reality of real-world expenses was just beginning to settle in.


Whatever your particular memories, one thing is for sure - you didn't likely have to watch out for scam artists claiming to be summer employers. 

Take a read of this article and warn the young people in your life that (yes, once again) if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


A few more warnings are here in this Pocono Record article and this Northern Illinois University alert

Remember to Check for Malware

The FBI is providing greater urgency for computer users to monitor their systems for malware. By July 9, victims of the malware DNSChanger may lose access to the Internet. Is yours one of the estimated half a million computers infected?

 Be sure to check by July 9, the date the FBI says victims may lose Internet access. Here are tips from the FBI on how to test your system for the malware.
Reader Question


I recently began participating in a long-term cancer prevention study sponsored by a nationally recognized group. I supplied very personal information about my medical history and current/past lifestyle. I also supplied my SSN, address and contact information. How concerned should I be about supplying this data, and is there anything I can do to protect myself now that I've already agreed to participate?


If the cancer group is considered to be a healthcare provider under HIPAA, they are legally obligated to have a wide range of safeguards in place to protect your information. Even so, here are three steps I recommend you take:

1. Check the privacy policy. If they don't have one, this is a red flag. If they have one, check how they are protecting your information, how they are sharing your information, and if they detail your rights. If the policy mostly states their rights, that is a second red flag.

2. Do a quick online search. Has the organization had any previously reported privacy breaches? If they have, ask them what they've done to correct the problems that allowed the breach.


3. Check your credit ratings regularly. By law, you are entitled each year to one free report from each of the major credit reporting agencies. Stagger the three out so you are checking one every 4 months.

Keep in mind, any organization, even one with the most impeccable security controls and reputation, is susceptible to a privacy breach. Therefore, doing your own due diligence to ensure any organization is properly protecting your information is a good move.

Upcoming Privacy Professor Presentations
I'm preparing to make two (of what I hope will be memorable) presentations on the importance of protecting our personal and professional privacy. If you happen to attend any of the following, be sure to say hello!


May - I'll be speaking Secure360, giving a presentation titled "Cloud Computing in Healthcare: Key Security and Privacy Issues."

June - I'm giving a webinar sponsored by the Information Systems Security Association titled, "Social Media Gone Wild."


I hope you make (and keep) some great memories this month!


All the best,



Rebecca Herold & Associates, LLC
Mobile: 515.491.1564, Business: 515.996.2199