March 20, 2022 marks this year’s Spring Equinox. With this new season not only comes new, warmer weather, blooming trees, and blossoming flowers, but also a time of organization inside. Spring cleaning has been around for centuries: during the 1800s, the biggest annual deep cleaning of a home occurred in the Spring because “the winter left homes coated with a layer of soot and grime in every room.” Spring cleaning continues to this day to help refresh us with the new season of freshness. Something we often omit from our Spring cleaning list is our digital presence, despite spending so much of our time online. Below are some tips for cleaning up your online world to help better protect yourself and start this next season fresh.
Review your social media contacts — Whether friends or followers, it is important to comb through the folks who you allow access to your social media presence. If you are posting personal life updates that you prefer to keep within your loop of trusted friends, family, and coworkers, it is important that you do not have some random person spoiling your safety and cheery times. Reviewing your followers for any dormant accounts from people you do not know well or bot accounts that snuck their way into your follower count and removing those individuals helps to protect your data and your personal information.
Refresh your passwords — It is recommended that you update your passwords for all accounts at least once every six months. This step helps to protect you against multiple account breaches; this means that if your account login was compromised in a data breach, a malicious actor who finds your breached credentials can not use them to access your account now. By the time they try to use your old password to access your account, you will have protected yourself by updating your password, successfully thwarting their attempt.
Clean up your files — Be it on your laptop, phone, or cloud services, you can use this time to clean up your files. This not only allows you to increase your storage space, but also helps to protect you by getting rid of excess files on your computer that give away too much personal information. It makes it so that your most recent and relevant information is stored, and you have no unnecessary documents lingering in your files.
Get rid of things you don’t use or need — Similar to cleaning up your files, it is important to take this time to intentionally get rid of anything online that you no longer use or need. If you realize you just aren’t using Facebook as much or you don’t need your old laptop anymore, consider going through your profile or device, pulling out the things you would like to keep as memories, and delete the remainder. This way, if a Facebook breach happens, you don’t have a dormant account sitting out there for malicious actors to steal. Likewise, if you open your laptop in a few years after not keeping up with updates and other normal security measures, you risk falling victim to a malware or ransomware attack.