Stay on top of digital clutter with infosec spring cleaning

Just as every spring people descend upon their homes with latex gloves, cleaning supplies, and garbage bags for the miscellany that’s accumulated over the year, so too should people be giving their digital clutter a thorough spring clean.

That’s why the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) are encouraging everyone to join their “digital spring cleaning” campaign.

“Chances are that over the years you’ve accumulated lots of digital clutter that can impact your cybersecurity posture,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “By following a few easy-to-use digital spring cleaning tips, you can be significantly safer and more secure online.”

Clean out your online life

When we use the Internet, we leave behind a digital footprint containing personal information that could be dangerous if a cyber criminal got hold of it. In order to protect your data, NCSA provides a few easy tips to clean out your online life:

  • Keep a clean machine: Ensure all software on Internet-connected devices is up to date.
  • Lock down your login: Fortify passwords and implement the strongest available authentication tools, such as biometrics or security keys.
  • Declutter your mobile life: Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the device’s operating system. You should also manage location services, Bluetooth, the microphone, and the camera.
  • Do a digital file purge: Perform a good, thorough review of your online files. This should include deleting unnecessary emails, unsubscribing from services you no longer need, and backing up important data to a Cloud site or another hard drive.
  • Own your online presence: Make sure the privacy and security settings on websites you use are at a level you are happy with.

Throw out electronically stored data

Personal information can easily accumulate on digital devices, so it’s equally important to routinely erase information you no longer need and safely dispose of devices when they are thrown out or replaced.

As part of their Secure Your ID Day, BBB lists some helpful tips:

  • Know what devices to digitally shred: Personal information is stored not only on computers and cell phones, but also on devices such as external hard drives, USBs, wearables, networking equipment, and office tools such as copiers and printers. These all need to be taken care of when you no longer you them.
  • Clear out stockpiles: Wipe and/or destroy any devices that you no longer use, even if they are kept somewhere that you believe is safe from theft.
  • Empty the trash or recycle bin on all devices and be certain to wipe and overwrite: Simply deleting and emptying the trash isn’t enough to get rid of a file – you must permanently erase it. BBB recommends using a program that deletes the data, wipes it from your device, and then overwrites it by putting random data in place of your information.

Become a data privacy champion

You can show that your organization respects privacy and supports safeguarding data by joining IT Governance in registering with the Data Privacy Champion program.

As a Champion, you’ll receive a privacy awareness toolkit, which includes resources to help you spread the word. This includes a list of ways to help employees be privacy aware, sample social media messages to promote your Champion status, and a Champion icon you can post on your website and include in other promotional materials.

Find out more about the Data Privacy Champion program >>