KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jan. 28 marks Data Privacy Day, a day devoted to raising awareness and promoting privacy and data protection best practices to citizens.

While there is no shortage of light-hearted holidays, like Rotisserie Chicken Day, Drive-Thru Day, even Underwear Day – Data Privacy Day is one worth paying attention to. 

According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), there are safety precautions consumers can take in order to ensure their sensitive information remains private online. These measures include properly disposing of electronic devices, safeguarding devices against illicit cryptocurrency mining activity, and more.

The CISA advises consumers’ delete their electronic data, overwrite it, or destroy the used electronic device entirely when transitioning to a new device. This protects data from being inadvertently vulnerable to exploitation by cyber criminals who may potentially get their hands on your disposed, donated, or recycled device.

While several businesses provide electronic waste (e-waste) drop-off services, it’s important consumers ensure the location chosen is certified through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Electronics Donation and Recycling webpage, which lists up to 22 reputable e-waste drop-off locations, such as Staples, Best Buy, and Samsung. 

The CISA also warns against cryptojacking, which occurs when a malicious cyber actor hijacks a device’s processing power by exploiting vulnerabilities, such as webpages, software, and operating systems, to illicitly install cryptomining software. 

Once the cryptomining software has been unknowingly installed on a victim’s device, the malicious cyber actors can then access user data to earn cryptocurrency for themselves.

The CISA warns cryptojackers may also infect a victim’s device through a website with cryptomining Javascript code, which “leverages a visitor’s power via their browser to mine cryptocurrency,” as well as through mobile applications, botnets, social media platforms, and Wi-Fi hotspots.

To protect against cryptojacking, the agency advises using and maintaining antivirus software, installing a firewall, and ensuring the device’s software and operating systems are up to date. Other precautionary steps include choosing strong passwords, ensuring general user accounts are restricted from performing administrative functions on the device, and only downloading files from trusted websites.

Secure websites will either begin with “https:” rather than “http:”, or have a closed padlock icon in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window, or at the top of the browser window between the address and search fields, according to the CISA.

The CISA website offers more information on how to secure your network infrastructure devices, tax information, and keep children safe online.