Time for Digital Spring Cleaning

April 25, 2017   |  By Fred Smith

In many households there is a long-standing tradition of spring cleaning, an annual ritual marked by clearing out closets, basements, and garages and getting the whole house clean and freshened up. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggest that these days we should also consider doing digital spring cleaning: adding a digital element to your spring cleaning rite by updating security software, unclogging your inbox and ridding your smartphone of unused apps.

The bulk of digital cleaning falls into four categories: keeping clean machines, staying secure, cleaning up your online reputation, and purging files.

  • Keep Clean Machines: Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the operating system on your mobile device. An added benefit of deleting unused apps is gaining more storage space and longer battery life.
  • Make Sure You’re Secure: Enhancing the security of your online accounts is a fast and simple way to be safer online. Your passwords should be long and strong, combining capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols. Having separate passwords for your accounts helps to thwart cybercriminals. If necessary, use a password manager to keep them straight.
  • Clean Up Your Online Reputation: Search for yourself online and update information that is no longer current. Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure that they remain set to your comfort level for sharing.
  • Purge Those Old Digital Files: Save only those emails you really need. Delete what you don’t need and be sure to empty your deleted mail folder. If you must keep old messages, move them to an archive. Delete obsolete drafts of now-final documents and empty your recycle bin.

For more detailed advice from the NCSA on clean and safe computing practices, as well as a downloadable version of its Tips and Advice sheet, visit its STOP-THINK-CONNECT website.