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How do I: Protect my Identity & Privacy

This guide covers Information, Media, and Digital Literacy concepts and Digital Citizenship for Gr. 9-12 students, as well as teacher and parents.

Protect my Identity & Privacy

Photo Credit: Got Credit, licensed under Creative Commons

General Info: Fraud, Identity Theft, & Scams

Definition of Fraud:

"deceit, trickery; intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right; an act of deceiving or misrepresenting."

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Definition of Identity Theft:

"The fraudulent practice of using another person's name and personal information in order to obtain credit, loans, etc."

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Definition of a Scam:

"A dishonest scheme," or "A fraudlent or deceptive act or operation."

Sources: Oxford Dictionaries and Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Identity theft can be the result of fraudulent scams, malicious hacking, failure to secure personal information, or other online or physical activities.  According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP):

"Identity theft refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else' personal information for criminal purposes."

Source: Identity Theft and Identity Fraud 

This act is illegal according to the Criminal Code of Canada.  Identity theaves typicall look for the following information to steal funds, aquire fake passports/government benefits, or facilitate terrorist activites:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • Social Insurence Number
  • mother's maiden name
  • usernames and passwords for online services
  • driver's license number
  • personal identification numbers (PIN)
  • bank card and credit card information
  • signature
  • passport

Source: RCMP Identity Theft and Identity Fraud

What do I do if I suspect identity theft or fraud?

Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft:

Monitor your financial statements (bank account, phone bill, credit card, etc.)

  • Look for suspicious purchases or activities (e.g. excessive use of cell phone data)
  • Call to report any suspicious activities to these financial institutions or service providers
  • If you receive collection agency calls about unfamiliar accounts investigate further

What's next?

How do I protect myself?

What is data encryption?

"Data encryption,  also called the process of disguising information as 'ciphertext,' or data unintelligible to an unauthorized person. Conversely, decryption, or decipherment, is the process of converting ciphertext back into its original format."


Data encryption. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from

Encryption is an effective method for securing your data, wheather it be on your phone, laptop, USB, external hard drive, cloud storage, or elsewhere; encryption exists for both hardware and software. Through encryption you are able to 'lock' your data, including things like your web/network traffic, file downloads, photos, contacts, phone numbers, and any other data that you can think of.  Your data is scrambled so that only the authorized user, who has the encryption key, is able to access it (decrypt it) and view it.

To learn more about the key terms and general process of encryption please read the What is Encryption? article by The Electronic Frontier Foundation below.

Why you should consider encrypting your data:

  • To protect your personal information (financial info, contacts-addresses, phone numbers, pictures, etc.) 
  • To protect your friends' information (if your personal contacts are hacked then this can effect other people)
  • To protect your digital footprint (social media accounts can get hacked into)
  • To protect yourself from possible surveilance 

Learn how to encrypt your data:

  • Determine what encryption features may already be built in to your devices and software (e.g. iOS)
  • Identify free or fee-based software that you can use to encrypt data associated with the specific functions of your hardware that you are wanting to protect

Source: The Government of Canada, Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

Click here to learn more!

Image Source: Licensed under Creative Commons, created by Elias Bizannes

Create Strong Passwords by:

  • Using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation, and special characters
  • Ensuring that your passwords are not re-used between accounts or devices
  • Changing your passwords routinely 
  • Not using words or letter/number combinations that represent personal information in your life that could be hacked (e.g. birthdays, your mother's maiden name, your favourite sport, etc.)

Example: Weak Username & Password

Example: Strong Username & Password

Tips for Managing your Passwords:

  • Do not save your passwords on your computer or cell phone
  • Do not allow sites to remember your password for you
  • Avoid writing your passwords down on paper - they could get lost or stollen 
    • Do not keep a copy of your passwords in your wallet!
  • ​Consider using password manager software, such as KeyPass X, which is open source
    • Password manager software will store your passwords for you, but you will require one master password to access and use the program
    • Caution: this type of software will not automatically update your passwords and if your computer crashes you could lose the passwords stored in the software

Source of Images:, licenced under Creative Commons

How could your cell get hacked?

  • Through the use of an insecure cell phone password
  • Through the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card on your phone, learn more from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and CBC articles below
  • Through downloading of unsafe apps

Source of Image:, licensed under Creative Commons

Tips for Keeping your Cell Secure:

  • Ensure that you use a strong password on your phone
  • Change your password routinely
  • Do not program passwords into your phone
  • Do not share your cell phone password with others
  • Only download apps from trusted websites
  • Do not keep private data on your phone for prolongued periods (e.g. photos) - if your phone does get hacked you do not want to provide the hacker with personal info
  • Keep the operating system up-to-date - this may help to patch security flaws 
  • Both iPhones and Android have vulnerabilities - learn about the particular vulnerabilities of your device and how to protect yourself

Anonymous web browsing effectively enables a person to avoid online web trackers, which collect your personal data primarily through cookies.  Read more about web trackers and datamining under Avoid Online Threats

Delete Cookies:

One of the key ways that your personal information is collected when surfing the web is through cookies.  Cookies are essentially small pieces of code stored on your machine that identify you and your habits to the websites that you visit.  Cookies can be managed through your browser settings, as well as through other methods.

See the below links to get help deleting cookies from your web browser.

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