Time for a Spring Digital Cleaning

The changing of the seasons and warmer temperatures are an invitation to all of us to do a good spring cleaning, whether it is in the yard or in your home. Cybersecurity experts recommend that you also do a digital cleanup. The benefits are numerous. A cyber cleaning helps you find your data more easily, ensures you have space available on your device when you need it, and makes it more difficult for bad actors to locate your data. An additional benefit is that clean and updated devices run better.

Where do you start a digital cleanup? We asked TDS Telecom’s Vickie Lubner for advice. She shared her top three steps to clean up your digital footprint and establish more secure devices.

Step one: keep your software current. Is there a patch or update that you have been meaning to do but have not gotten around to completing? Lubner says if you are not updating your software with the latest protection, your device could be vulnerable to criminals attempting to access your personal information.

Pro-tip:  Enable automatic software updates!

Step two: strengthen weak passwords and get a password manager. Do not use the same passwords or versions of them over and over. Make your passwords long and unique! Also, check to see if your passwords were compromised in a data breach. Here is a good resource: Many password managers will tell you if a certain password is especially vulnerable. According to Lubner, bad password management is one of the easiest ways for cyber criminals to access your data. For more information on getting a password manager to assist, check out this previous blog. It may seem overwhelming to incorporate a password manager into your life; Lubner suggests starting with the accounts containing the most personal information and the ones you access the most often.

Step three: review privacy and security settings. Most people are not aware of how much of their personal information is available online. Some details could be used to get access to your accounts or even to track your location. Lubner advises to lock down settings that may reveal too much to the public.

More steps! If you are inspired to do more, Lubner has a few additional steps to consider: delete any unused apps on your phone or software/apps on your computers/iPad; delete any online accounts or email services you no longer use; backup your data; and add another level of protection to sensitive accounts such as banking, email, and social media by enabling two-factor authentication.

“Some of these steps may take a good amount of time but are worth it,” said Lubner.

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