I once again had the pleasure of presenting Cybersecurity for Tax Professionals at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum today. The conference is designed for tax professionals in small- to medium-sized businesses. It is always a lively bunch, but following the afternoon session, a crowd of folks got in line to chat more, and they were most interested in my discussion of the privacy settings on their phones and how to find out who they have allowed to have access to their camera, microphone, location services, fitness tracking, bluetooth, etc.

Mind you, they were interested in learning more, despite the fact that I was between them and the cocktail hour in New Orleans.

While chatting with them about how to check their privacy settings and help them better understand the apps they have allowed access to these capabilities, one man mentioned that he didn’t understand why or how his privacy settings appear to reset after a period of time to allow access.

This point is an important one, and it gave me the idea for the Privacy Tip this week. Why do our Privacy settings revert to previously selected or default settings when we haven’t changed them? This has happened to me, and I am suspicious about how and why it happens. I have considered two possibilities.

Perhaps we may have used an app and needed to turn the access back on in order to do so, and then have forgotten to turn it off. That is certainly plausible. But there have also been times when I have turned my phone off, and my privacy settings mysteriously have reverted to their default settings, and I have to change them all back to not allowing access. Or perhaps when we are asked by the manufacturer to upload a new operating system, in order to patch vulnerabilities, the privacy settings automatically revert to default settings.

The tip for this week is to check your privacy settings frequently and reset them. If you upload to a new version of the operating system, as soon as you open the phone after the upload, go into privacy settings and reset them.  Do the same on your smart TVs and other IoT devices. Check your privacy settings frequently so that if, for whatever reason, they have reverted to the default settings, you can affirmatively choose who you want to have access to your camera, location, microphone and contacts.