It’s officially Spring and with the warm weather, longer daytime hours and blooming floral comes the annual practice of cleaning out the house of items that are no longer needed. But now is also a great time to get into a regular practice of doing what I like to call, ‘Security Spring Cleaning’ or SSC.
With SSC, you can dedicate Spring to start reviewing your personal digital security practices and clear up any security vulnerabilities you may have. For example, I like to make it a yearly habit to change ALL of my online passwords. Why? Because unfortunately, we live in a world where nefarious individuals attempt to steal private information, and in many cases, this type of theft occurs without anyone’s knowledge. For example, we’ve seen frequently on the news about major security breaches that go unnoticed for months before the companies alert the public about the breaches. Often times, security vulnerabilities can be exploited for YEARS before they are made known. Why wait until this occurs before changing your password?
Another great practice to implement is performing a full malware scan on your computer. Most anti-malware (virus) security software these days have a real-time scanner which actively monitors opened and downloaded files on your computer as they are accessed, however things can sometimes slip through the cracks and are missed by even the best security software. By being proactive with your digital security practices, you can minimize the risk of your computer and other devices from becoming infected with malware and other nasty annoyances. Also take this time to ensure that your security software is set to run weekly quick scans on a scheduled basis. Visit the manufacturer’s website for details on how to set this up.
This next piece of advice may be slightly non-security related, however there is a small component that can help keep your digital security in tact. Every year, (or more often depending on your individual situation) take time to review all of the smartphone apps that are installed on your device and remove any that you no longer use. This practice can be helpful in many different ways. For example, the more apps that you have installed on your phone, the more likely the background activity of these apps can slowly be draining your battery life and/or reducing the performance of the phone. By clearing out any unused apps, your phone can stay powered longer in between charges. Another thing to consider is the more third-party apps that you have on your smartphone, the more possible security vulnerabilities could be present. Remember, many cyber security vulnerabilities aren’t discovered until after a length of time has passed. It’s anyone’s guess how many undiscovered exploits exists with any given software or application. And with the recent revelations revealed from the Wikileaks exposed documents, many more could come creeping out of the woodwork.
Some other SSC practices you could explore are reviewing your social media accounts for posts that possibly reveal too much of your private information, reviewing your current contact information is correct with various online websites, ensuring that your privacy settings with social media accounts are set the way you want them and opting out of newsletters that you are no longer interested in receiving.
In closing, Spring cleaning doesn’t just have to be about cleaning your home. It can also be a time to evaluate digital security best practices and keeping you and your information secure.