Every spring, many winter-weary people get a glimmer in their eye and a bottle of bleach in their hand. For them, it’s time to synergize hygiene and get organized: it’s time for spring cleaning. We could learn a lot from our neat and tidy brethren. For example: we ought to get rid of that coat of dust on the coffee table, and scrub down the microwave. But let’s not forget that our digital environments need some dusting as well, especially where security is concerned. Thankfully, a digital spring cleaning doesn’t take too much effort on your part.
Ready to get started?
Get your gear
This is the easiest step: gather your digital devices, be they laptops, tablets, smartphones, mp3 players or desktops. Bring them together and make sure they’re all powered on.
Consolidate files, devices and services
We all have files, programs, devices and services we just don’t use anymore. Take the time to go through your devices’ application folders to pick out the programs gathering dust and toss ‘em in the bin. Haven’t used that nifty program you downloaded a year ago? Say “sayonara.”
If you’re planning on recycling old devices, you’ll need to back them up to your computer first, delete the data on the device second, and finally reset the device to its factory settings.
This also applies to online services that you’ve signed up for. Go through your email inbox and track down those services you thought you’d use, and unsubscribe from them. Be aware: not all of these services will delete your data from their servers. If you’re afraid that’s the case (and in many cases, it is) take a look at the next step.
Update passwords and enable two-factor authentication
For top-notch account security, you should be updating your passwords every six months or so. And yes, we can all agree it’s a hassle to constantly update your log-ins. Luckily, there are secure solutions out there that help make the process painless, like True Key™.
When you’re ready to make password updates, start taking stock of all the online services you’ve used. You’re going to want to update your credentials for all of them with long, complex passwords that use a random set of numbers, symbols and letters. Password solutions like True Key can generate, organize, and manage these passwords for you.
Finally, you’re going to want to enable two-factor authentication for accounts, wherever possible. Two-factor authentication, where a user is verified by something they know (like a password) and something they have (like a smartphone) is a great guard against account compromise. Not all services offer it, but the big ones (email providers, social networks) usually do.
Scan with an Antivirus Solution
Most antivirus software today automatically scans devices for malicious files, but it’s still advisable to manually run complete scans on desktops and laptops periodically. If any malware programs or suspicious files are found on your computer, your antivirus program will detect and remove them promptly.
For this purpose, we have McAfee LiveSafe™. It’s a comprehensive security solution that preserves your favorite files in the cloud, automatically blocks dangerous emails and programs and, of course, gives you award-winning antivirus across your devices.
Back up files
Finally, make sure you do a thorough backup. Almost every device today contains personal data that we’d like to preserve, from private documents to family vacation photos. Backing up your devices is a surefire way to keep your memories safe.
Typically, it’s a good idea to back up information on your mobile devices to a central laptop or desktop. You can do this by leveraging a device’s associated desktop application (such as iTunes for iOS devices and Kindle for Kindle gadgets). Once you’re done backing up your portable devices, it’s time to back up your laptop or desktop.
Here, you have a couple options: back up to the cloud (and pay a monthly service fee), or back up to an external hard drive (you’ll want one with at least a terabyte of storage).
So, there you have it—a few simple steps for a good digital spring cleaning. It may seem like a lot, but remember: it’s a quick and painless process compared to trying to salvage information from compromised, or broken, devices.