Do a Digital Declutter This Spring

 

When people think of spring cleaning, they think about cleaning out drawers, wiping down furniture, and vacuuming floors. However, you should not forget about cleaning out the clutter in your devices. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) recommends getting rid of of unneeded digital files in order to prevent identity theft.


Your devices contain volumes of confidential details about your business and clients. If even one of these details (such as a social security number and/or date of birth) gets exposed in a security breach, a cyber thief can do a world of damage to your company's finances, reputation, and livelihood.


Bill Fanelli, Chief Security Officer with the council of Better Business Bureaus states, "Last year, consumers filed more than 47,000 reports to BBB Scam Tracker about a wide variety of scams, and we found the riskiest are online scams. It’s vitally important that consumers and businesses alike develop and stick to good habits on how data is collected, stored, and shared, and how it is disposed of when it’s no longer relevant."

 

NCSA and BBB provided these top trouble-free tips everyone should follow this spring and all year round:

Keep a clean machine: Ensure all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – is up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware. 

Lock down your login: Your usernames and passphrase are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Begin your spring cleaning by fortifying your online accounts and enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. 

Declutter your mobile life: Most of us have apps we no longer use and some that need updating. Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the operating system on your mobile devices. 

Do a digital file purge: Perform a good, thorough review of your online files. Tend to digital records, PCs, phones and any device with storage just as you do for paper files. Get started by doing the following:  

o Clean up your email: Save only those emails you really need and unsubscribe to email you no longer need/want to receive. 

o Back it up: Copy important data to a secure cloud site or another computer/drive where it can be safely stored. Passphrase protect backup drives. Always back up your files before getting rid of a device, too. 

Own your online presence: Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to ensure they’re at your comfort level for sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.  

 

Also, the BBB provided these user-friendly, actionable guidelines to assist with the safe disposal of electronically stored data:

Know what devices to digitally “shred”: Computers and mobile phones aren’t the only devices that capture and store sensitive, personal data. External hard drives and USBs, tape drives, embedded flash memory, wearables, networking equipment and office tools like copiers, printers and fax machines all contain valuable personal information. 

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. 

Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices, and be certain to wipe and overwrite: Simply deleting and emptying the trash isn’t enough to completely get rid of a file. You must permanently delete old files. Use a program that deletes the data, “wipes” it from your device and then overwrites it by putting random data in place of your information ‒ that then cannot be retrieved.  

o Various overwriting and wiping tools are available for electronic devices. For devices like tape drives, remove any identifying information that may be written on labels before disposal, and use embedded flash memory or networking or office equipment to perform a full factory reset and verify that no potentially sensitive information still exists on the device. 

Decide what to do with the device: Once the device is clean, you can sell it, trade it in, give it away, recycle it or have it destroyed. Note the following:  

o Failed drives still contain data: On failed drives, wiping often fails, too; shredding/destruction is the practical disposal approach for failed drives. Avoid returning a failed drive to the manufacturer; you can purchase support that allows you to keep it – ¬and then destroy it. 

o To be “shredded,” a hard drive must be chipped into small pieces: Using a hammer to hit a drive only slows down a determined cybercriminal; instead, use a trusted shredding company to dispose of your old hard drives. Device shredding can often be the most time- and cost-effective option for disposing of a large number of drives.

 

If you need help with your digital spring cleaning tasks, you can contact us at 877-794-3811 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, if you are unsure if your data is safe on your devices and in the cloud, you can ask us about our security packages. 


SOURCES
Stop Think Connect. Do a Digital Spring Cleaning and Clear Out Cyber Clutter. Retrieved from: https://www.stopthinkconnect.org/resources/preview/do-a-digital-spring-cleaning-and-clear-out-cyber-clutter
Drury, S. Tips for Digital Spring Cleaning. (2016, May 5). Retrieved from: https://www.digicert.com/blog/tips-for-efficient-digital-spring-cleaning/
Hay Newman, L. How to Spring Clean Your Digital Clutter to Protect Yourself. (2017, May 28). Retrieved from: https://www.wired.com/2017/05/spring-clean-digital-clutter-protect/
Sarang, R. Kick Off Your Digital Spring Cleaning Efforts During World Backup Day. (2018, March 29). Retrieved from: https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/mobile-security/digital-spring-cleaning-world-backup-day/

 

Contact us at 877-794-3811 or [email protected] for Professional IT Support

get in touch