It’s time to take stock of your private information.

This Monday (Jan. 28) is Data Privacy Day, which marks the 1981 signing of Europe’s Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty involving privacy and data protection. But, more important, it’s a reminder that protecting your personal data is vital.

Just like checking the tire pressure and oil in your car, taking care of digital privacy is a task that requires some ongoing maintenance.

It’s especially important now because the number and size of computer hacks continue to grow. In just the past year, millions of consumers have been affected by breaches at companies from Under Armour to Marriott, along with phishing and malware attacks on individuals.

More on digital privacy

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has made consumers more aware that their personal data is being collected by everything from their social media accounts to their internet service provider and smart home devices.   

Groups such as the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance are trying to educate businesses and consumers about the importance of data security and privacy protection.

Kelvin Coleman, the NCSA’s executive director, says Data Privacy Day is a chance for everyone to encourage organizations to improve data privacy practices and make consumers more aware of how their information is being used.

“If companies protect data and respect privacy, they will earn the trust of their customers,” Coleman says. “It is, however, up to all of us to learn about and practice simple steps to help protect our personal information.”

That includes educating our kids, says Lynette Owens, global director for online safety at Trend Micro, which makes antivirus and other cybersecurity products.

Owens, who heads up the company’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families Programme, says in a blog post marking Data Privacy Day that parents can’t rely on governments, developers, or regulators to protect their familiy’s privacy. So it’s up to them to make sure their kids “live their digital lives responsibly.”

“That comes with practice and open communication at home,” she says. “The learning never stops, but with the right set of habits, you’ll be giving them the best possible start.”

Here are a few easy ways you can protect your privacy, along with links to further Consumer Reports resources that will help you do even more. 

Make better passwords. Great passwords go a long way toward protecting your information. Obvious ones, such as, say, “Password123,” don’t cut it.

Long, random sets of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and special characters are best. Think that’s too hard? A password manager can help.

Experts are divided on whether you should change your passwords frequently, but if there’s any chance one of yours has been stolen in a breach, change it right away.

And one other thing all experts agree on: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.  

Turn on 2FA. While you’re getting your passwords in shape, make sure you’ve enabled multifactor authentication, or two-factor authentication (2FA). Basically, this requires you to enter a second form of identification—such as a code texted to your phone—in addition to your password before accessing your account.

These days it’s available on everything from banking websites to Gmail. And it goes a long way toward keeping the bad guys out of your stuff if your password is ever stolen.

Guard your info. Lock down your social media accounts to make sure that your posts are restricted to people you actually know. Facebook has a privacy checkup tool to help with this. And even then, think before you post. People don’t need, or want, to know everything about you.

And if you want to see exactly what Facebook knows about you, you can download your entire history. It takes just a few minutes. Google has a similar option. Or if you’ve decided that you’re done with social media, you can quit Facebook and other accounts and delete all your data. 

In addition to your online accounts, consider internet-connected devices, which can quietly collect information in the background. Every time you say “Alexa” or “Hey, Google,” remember that a recording is being made. Remember that apps and websites are collecting your information, too. Keep your privacy settings for both at levels you’re comfortable with.

And if you’re no longer using an app, delete it.

Protect and educate your kids. Just because an internet-connected toy wants to know your child’s name or birthday, that doesn’t mean you have to provide it. And think before you post something about your kids on social media. Nobody likes an oversharer, and when your children are older, they might not appreciate very personal posts about them from years ago. 

On the same note, talk to your kids about smart behavior online. It’s never too early to have that conversation. Pictures posted on websites or social media can be copied and shared. Even if you delete them, they may never really go away.

And when it comes to social media, Owens says parents need to remind their kids to think about the possible privacy implications before they post—not just on themselves but also on others.

“Empathy and foresight won’t just help to save potential drama down the road,” she says. “They’re great life skills to learn.”

Run your updates. This isn’t just important for laptops and smartphones but also for your router and the “internet of things” devices connected to it. Known security flaws that aren’t patched give hackers easy access to your network.

And a good way to cover all your bases is to use an antivirus program and keep it updated. There are great AV packages out there—both free and paid—that cover traditional computers and mobile devices, too. Consumer Reports members can check our full ratings.

Protecting Your Online Privacy

It doesn't matter if you're on your phone or your laptop, your personal information can leave a digital trail of where you go online. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Thomas Germain explains to host Jack Rico what to do to protect your online privacy.