I recently had the chance to read “How To Spring Clean Your Digital Clutter To Protect Yourself” by LH Newman in WIRED. I thought the article was not only timely, but informative as well, and so worthwhile sharing.
The basic idea: Even though you may be following all the best practices to protect your digital self (strong, unique passwords; watchful for phishing attacks; using two-factor authentication) you can help yourself further by deleting “digital junk”. Here the author is referring to old email accounts, thumb drives tucked in a desk, a chock-full downloads folder. Any of these (and more) may be lost and/or stolen (hacked), exposing you to any number of risks.
The additional proactive steps you can take to protect yourself are to protect yourself are:
Review your physical devices – destroy old CDs, thumb drives, external hard drives, and any other device (an old PC, perhaps) that may contain personal information. Back up what you truly need, wipe the rest. On your current devices, delete old docs (credit card statement pdfs …) or back them up to a secure device and wipe it.
Review your applications – email (most of all). Delete the ones you no longer need, export the ones you have to save. Don’t forget old (Yahoo, Google) email accounts that are still out there. What is in the free storage you use … Box, Google Drive, Dropbox? Again, save what’s important, wipe the rest.
Cancel unused or duplicate accounts – How many applications do you have that are no longer used? Get rid of them. Before you do … close the account with the company. How many locations do you use to store images/videos/documents? Consolidate and clean up.
After you’re done with the Digital Spring Cleaning, stay proactive. Think twice about downloading an application you want, but don’t need. Back up what you must save, then delete before you move on. The more control you exercise over a digital footprint, the more secure you’ll be.
You can read the original article here.