After the windows are squeaky clean it’s now time to make sure you do your digital spring cleaning. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut (BBB) have teamed up to remind everyone that when clearing out clutter, don’t forget about the critical need to take action and protect your volumes of valuable digital information. Whether you are tidying up your home or sprucing up your office space, everyone needs to spend a few minutes to help keep personal online data more secure.
Taking some simple, proactive steps will go a long way in safeguarding you against any number of potentially disruptive issues like identity theft or credit card fraud that can cause mayhem by compromising your data. Now is the time to review all your digital activity in the last year from your phone, computer and even social media.
Here are some tips to remember when doing your digital spring cleaning.
Delete unused apps: More and more cases of identity theft and security breaches originate from downloading cell phone apps and computer programs. Sharing information with the wrong entity can mean your information is taken and sold to people who misuse it. Actively manage your privacy setting which include apps being allowed to access your location services, Bluetooth, microphone, camera and contacts. Make sure only appropriate apps have access to these extremely personal features.
Update system and software: Don’t procrastinate any longer! Having the latest updates, security software, web browser and operating system is one of the easiest ways to keep devices secure and protect data. This simple “digital to do” will help keep cybercriminals at bay and keep your devices as secure as possible.
Review social media presence. Review and update your online profiles on social media sites. Review your privacy and security settings on social media sites and other sites you use. Set them at your comfort level for sharing. Delete old photos, posts, etc. that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are. Review friends on social networks and contacts in your phone. Does everyone still belong?
Clear out stockpiles: If you have a stash of old hard drives or other devices, even if they’re in a locked storage area, information still exists and could be stolen. Don’t wait: wipe and/or destroy unneeded hard drives as soon as possible.
Decide what to do with old devices: If you plan on getting rid of your old cellphone or laptop this is an important step. Remember to always wipe all memory and hard drives on old devices first before giving it to someone else. Once the device is wiped clean, you can then sell it, trade it in, give it away, recycle it or have it destroyed.
Back It Up: Protect your personal and workplace data by making electronic copies or backups of your most important files. Whether it's family photos, health records or employee contacts, back up your files this spring and set a schedule to do so regularly throughout the year. Treat these hard drives just as you would important paper work. Keep it in a secure place.
"Another tip for digital spring cleaning is tackling your inbox. One thing I see too often are people who have thousands of unread emails. Getting your email under control is one of the simplest ways to monitor fraud," said Luke Frey, associate director of communication for BBB Serving Connecticut. "By screening, reading and deleting junk emails you prevent fraud by potentially catching a fraudulent order confirmation for a purchase you may have not authorized."