Five Things You Can Do to Manage Your Privacy Now

January 08, 2018

The Internet of Things – the increasingly connected world in which we live – is rapidly expanding. We love our convenient and fun ​devices – ​like​ ​personal assistants, wearables, speakers, cameras, TVs, cars, home alarm systems, toys and appliances. But it’s important to understand that connected devices rely on information about us – such as our behaviors and preferences – forming an “Internet of Me” rather than just an Internet of Things.

TIP #1

When shopping for a new connected device, determine what data will be gathered and from whom. From you? Your children? Your company? How will the data be used, shared and retained? Does the service you are using need the data it collects from you to function?

TIP #2

Manage the information that your Internet of Me device uses wisely. Because you have investigated what specific data your device is requesting (Tip 1), you can now check how the product manufacturer protects and controls data. Does the value of the services gained from sharing data outweigh the value of the data you surrendered? Is the company or organization capable and interested in governing it the way you would treat your own valuable information?

TIP #3

Beware of online surveys or cold calls intended to steal personal information for possible identity theft or set you up as a future target for scammers. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions before you answer any yourself.

TIP #4

Bogus offers for freebies often require your credit card, saying it is necessary to cover shipping costs or a deposit. That often leads to unnecessary charges on your bill or a recurring charge you cannot kill – it gets to be worse than zombies. Before taking the bait, check the manufacturer’s or provider’s website. If the offer isn’t stated there, you could be vulnerable to theft. Your credit information is regulated by data protection rules and regulations, even after you share it “publicly” with merchants; these companies do not have the right to use it how they please if they are not pleasing you.

TIP #5

Think twice before downloading free entertainment, screen savers or mobile apps. Some of them are specifically created to steal personal information, passwords and files from your device. Others create weaknesses to leave a backdoor open so the crooks can use your information or equipment, or just exploit your private images later.

Privacy governance can seem overwhelming, but by taking the challenge to heart you can manage your privacy and protect your personal information.

Get Involved

This month we observe Data Privacy Day. It’s a great time to reflect and act on privacy strategy in all aspects of our lives, both professional and personal. You can participate through your social channels in some of the many Data Privacy Day activities Cisco is leading with the National Cyber Security Alliance. Join the conversation!

  • Join #ChatSTC Twitter Chats on Jan. 1017 and 24
  • Check out Cisco’s weekly privacy blogs
  • Data Privacy Day 2018 on Thursday, Jan. 25, is a daylong live event from LinkedIn’s headquarters in San Francisco, CA, featuring TED-style talks, segments and interviews focusing on the latest privacy issues for consumers and business. The event will be streaming directly on We hope you will join us for this exciting virtual event!
  • Champion privacy awareness at home and at work with awareness and education activities!

More Information

About the Author

Michelle Finneran Dennedy is vice president and chief privacy officer at Cisco, where she works to raise awareness and create tools that promote privacy, quality, respect, trust and asset-level possibilities for data. She is a unique visionary in the field of privacy and the IT industry, bringing together multifaceted approaches that provide sincere privacy protections and drive business value.

Dennedy is a highly sought-after public speaker who sits on the boards of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Northern California. She has been honored with many industry awards, including California’s Most Powerful and Influential Women, by the National Diversity Council; the IAPP Vanguard Award; Woman of Influence for Security and Privacy, from the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) and CSO Magazine; and most recently Woman of the Year in Technology and Transformation, by the Stevie American Business Awards. Dennedy has a Doctorate of Law degree from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Science degree in clinical, counseling and applied psychology and economics from The Ohio State University.