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We all tend to get into the practice of spring-cleaning our homes & closets. It’s time we extend spring cleaning to our computers, cellphones and all Internet-connected devices.
“By conducting a digital spring cleaning and taking care of overdue online maintenance, you will be more secure against losing personal information and becoming a victim of identity theft,” says the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Like with regular spring cleaning, we tend to ignore all the extra junk we collect on our computers thinking we’ll get to it later. A lot of times that never happens.
“Our connected devices contain volumes of details about family and friends. Information like contacts, photos and videos, along with confidential health and financial records, could easily get into the wrong hands and cause chaos,” warns the cyber protection group’s executive director Russ Schrader.
Over time it’s become clear that the average consumer is doing very little to protect their data.
If you are one of those who has put off going through your records, this is a great opportunity to purge the many computer records you don’t need.
Here are seven simple cybersecurity spring cleaning tips the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Better Business Bureau urge:
- Begin your spring cleaning by strengthening your online accounts and enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as 2-factor authentication, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. “Your usernames and passphrase are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media,” caution the groups.
- Delete unused apps on both your phone and computer and keep others current, including the operating system.
- Clean up your email: Save only those emails you really need, and unsubscribe to email you accounts no longer need or use.
- Ensure all software on Internet-connected devices is up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware. Software can often be set to handle the updates automatically.
- Permanently delete old files and folders by using a program that deletes not just the data, but “wipes” it from your device and overwrites it by putting random data in place of your information. It cannot then be retrieved.
- Decide to dispose of your old digital devices you never use such as old cellphones and tablets. Information still exists on them and could be stolen. Don’t wait: wipe and/or destroy unneeded hard drives as soon as possible. For devices like old tape drives and thumb drives, remove any identifying information that may be written on labels before disposal.
- Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to ensure they’re at your comfort level for sharing.
Use spring cleaning as a way to jump-start your behavior for regular, consistent maintenance.
Also, the Better Business Bureau and the NCSA recommend keeping a keen eye on all sensitive accounts like online banking, your credit cards and credit report
To make sure you are doing what you should, print out this check list and check off what you have done so you know what you still need to do:
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
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