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A messy digital life leaves your money, identity, and personal information vulnerable to bad actors.
Keep yourself and your family safe online with these quick tips for a spotless digital life.
1. Clean up your passwords and find a password manager
Chances are you have some old, unsecure passwords that need to be cleaned up. But if the idea of going through all your accounts seems overwhelming, get some help from a password manager. Not only do password managers store passwords and suggest strong ones, but many will alert you if you’re using a duplicate or weak password, and prompt you to change it. This is a great way to toss out any unsecure passwords and replace them with fresh and strong ones.
2. Enable multi-factor authentication
Setting up multi-factor authentication on your accounts is a quick and easy way to stay safe online. Multi-factor authentication is a security feature that allows you to use two types of credentials when logging into your account; such as a fingerprint or a unique one-time code through an app on another device. It adds another layer of protection to your accounts and alerts you if someone tries to log in. It ensures your data is protected, even in the event of a data breach.
Ensure multi-factor authentication is set up on accounts with very sensitive information, including:
- Email account
- Bank accounts
- Credit card accounts
Consider enabling MFA on any account with personal information or credit card information, including social media accounts, retail accounts, delivery apps. It is a great habit to enable MFA whenever you can.
3. Check app permissions
Review the privacy and security settings on accounts you use. Be wary of apps or services that have access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering, such as your location, contacts, and photos.
Check out NCA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page to check the settings of social media accounts, retail stores, apps and more.
To find a list of downloaded apps on your phone, follow these steps:
For iOS users:
- Go to your settings app -> Scroll to the bottom to see a list of all downloaded apps
- To check which apps have access to your camera, microphone and location, go to Settings -> Privacy for complete lists of apps
For Android users:
- Go to your settings app
- Select Apps & Notifications -> See All Apps
- To check which apps have access to your camera, microphone and location, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Permission Manager for complete lists of apps
Don’t need it? Delete it. While you’re reviewing your apps, take a moment to delete apps you don’t need. Uninstalling apps from your phone not only declutters your home screen but ensures that your data is not being shared with apps you no longer use.
4. Update your software and set automatic updates
Software updates shouldn’t be ignored, as they provide important security improvements to protect your devices against emerging threats.
Check your browser, laptop, and phone for available software updates. Step away from the “Remind Me Later” button.
5. Back up your data
Protect your data by making copies of your most important files and storing them in a separate, secure location.
Use the 3-2-1 rule to help guide you:
- Keep 3 copies of your data (this includes the original copy and two backup copies)
- Save your backup copies on 2 different media types (such as the cloud, a USB, or external hard drive)
- 1 of those media types should be kept offsite, in a separate location
6. Securely dispose of old devices
Bring any old devices and electronics to an e-waste recycling location. Recycling electronics is much better for the environment than throwing them in the trash, where they’re likely to end up in a landfill.
- Take an inventory of any electronics you don’t need. Some recyclable items include laptops, phones, tablets, hard-drives, TVs, appliances, printers, gaming consoles.
REMEMBER: Your old tech probably contains a lot of old data and personal information. It’s not enough to just delete your data. You must wipe it from your devices.
- Perform a factory reset on your phone or other devices where applicable.
- Remove any memory cards or hard drives.
- Consider using a disk cleaning software on your computer.
- Learn more from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: https://www.cisa.gov/uscert/ncas/tips/ST18-005
- Once you’ve wiped all data from your devices, use the following resources to find local recycling centers:
- Best Buy: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/services/recycling/pcmcat149900050025.c?id=pcmcat149900050025
- Environmental Protection Agency Guide: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling
- Many local governments run e-waste recycling programs. Check with your municipality to see if they have any upcoming recycling events.
If you got through these six steps: Congratulations! There’s nothing like that clean-home feeling! These actions will significantly reduce your chance of losing your accounts and information to accidents and scams. Keep it up year-round!