Digital Declutter Checklist

Declutter-1

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I spent part of this past weekend at a Digital Security Conference in Atlanta sponsored by the National CyberSecurity Alliance, and the Better Business Bureau of America. While there were multiple presentations on privacy and security, one that stuck out in my mind was on how to declutter our computers.

If you’re like me you download more than you will ever look at again, you casually reuse passwords and login credentials, don’t delete old documents, photos & folders, and rarely change the SSID (Wi-Fi Name) of your router.

We are all guilty of being waaay to casual in some of our online habits.

Below is very good checklist of how to declutter and help secure your computer. And yes, I just finished going down this list, now I give it to you.

KEEP A CLEAN MACHINE

Make sure that all web-connected devices are squeaky clean. 

  • Update software on all internet-connected devices to reduce risks from malware and infections.
  • Clean up your mobile life by deleting unused apps, keeping others current and reviewing app permissions.

MAKE SURE YOU’RE SECURE

Enhancing the security of your online accounts is a must and a fast, simple way to be safer online.

  • Lock down your login: Your usernames and passphrases are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Strengthen online accounts and use strong or “2 Factor” authentication tools whenever offered.
  • Secure your router by making sure it has a strong passphrase and does not broadcast who you are through its Wi-Fi name, such as “the Jones Family” or “123 Elm Street.”
  • Make unique passphrases, not passwords, for important accounts like email, finance and healthcare.
  • Make your passphrase a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember. On many sites, you can even use spaces.
  • Write down your new passphrases and store them in a safe place away from your computer. Using a Password Manager or an encrypted Excel spreadsheet is best.
  • Check to ensure all devices are password, passcode, fingerprint or eye-scan protected.

DIGITAL FILE PURGE AND PROTECTION

Be sure to properly dispose of sensitive materials – such as hard drives and memory cards, or use software to completely wipe those digital remnants. Do NOT simply throw into the trash and expect no one will find it. Most anything that has been written on those devices can be recovered. 

  • Clean out your old email and empty deleted folders. If you need to keep old messages, move them to an archive.
  • Delete or archive older files and outdated financial statements. Move those older documents and files off of your computer and onto an external drive for safe keeping.
  • Unsubscribe to newsletters, email alerts and updates you no longer read. That will be a hassle to do, but having your information and credentials still out on the Internet poses an incredible security risk for you.
  • Update your online photo album by deleting or backing up old or unnecessary photos.
  • Update online relationships by reviewing friends on social networks and all contacts lists to make sure everyone still belongs. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter tend to collect people who serve no purpose in our lives. Unfriend as many as you can.
  • Permanently delete all old files. If you don’t want them, then you don’t need them. Go ahead, I give you permission to get rid of them.
  • Copy important data to a secure cloud site or external drive where it can be safely stored. Just like deleting unnecessary files, this serves a second important purpose of opening up additional space on your computer that was previously being occupied.
  • Password protect back-up drives and keep them in a different location off the network. And please don’t keep them conveniently sitting next to your computer. An intruder will most certainly grab those external drives. Or something as devastating as a fire could destroy them. If that information is important, then take measures to protect it from bad things that happen. 

CLEAN UP YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION

Make sure your online reputation shines.

  • Own your online presence by reviewing the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure they are set at your comfort level for sharing.
  • Clean up your social media presence by deleting old photos, friends, etc. that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are. And yes, you don’t need, or want all of those ‘friends’ on social media. They are not real friends, only other people you have never met before.
  • Update your “online self” by reviewing your personal information and updating it where needed.

Now then, don’t you feel much better?

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!

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