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15 tips to Spring Clean Your Digital Security

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As a security analyst for both off-line and online activity, which is personal protection and information security, I’m constantly analyzing my own security situation. This means paying attention to my surroundings, systems in place, the security of my hardware, software and data. One way to get a closer look at all of this and to get refocused, is to remove the clutter, upgrade technologies, and do a Spring Clean. I heavily recommend that you perform the following 15 tasks for tightening up your digital security affecting your overall security position.

Clean up and secure your digital life:

1. Do away with useless files. Go through all folders, including the recycle bin, and discard files that you no longer use.

2. Organize media. Put music, photos, etc., in appropriately labeled folders. Maybe create a master folder for different kinds of related media.

3. Consolidate desktop icons. Perhaps you can put a few icons into another one if the topic is related: Put the “Muffin” and “Rover” files in one file labeled “Pets.” A desktop cluttered with icons will slow boot-up time. Consider “removing” an icon you hardly use; this won’t delete the program, but will get rid of the shortcut.

4. Uninstall programs you’ll never use. This will speed things up and reduce potential malware targeted software.

5. Review passwords. Update as necessary, making them unique, never the same, and use different characters upper/lower case and numbers. Install a “password manager”. Google it.

6. Make backups of important data on a flash drive or use online storage. Ideally, make a backup of your prized data that exists outside your house. I backup on 3 local drives and in the cloud in two places.

7. Consider reinstalling your operating system. This means gathering all your software and backing up all your data. Do a search on your devices OS and seek out “How to reinstall operating system Windows/Mac (your version)”

8. Mop up your system’s registry. This will clean out temporary files you do not need that have been picked up by your system over time. An accumulation of these files will slow your computer and make it prone to malware infections. CCleaner is a free tool that will do this job.

9. Update Internet security software. Use antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall. Get a VPN for when using free wireless internet. Hotspot Shield is perfect. Google it.

10. Defragment your hard drive. For Windows 8 go to Files, then “defrag.” For older systems go to Program Files, Accessories, then System Tools. For the iOS, run its built-in Disk Utility app.

11. Install program updates. Updates include critical security parches: very important. For Windows go to Go to Start, Control Panel, All Programs and Windows Update. Click on “Check for updates” to see if you are up to date. For the iOS, go to the app store, then Updates.

12. Do not forget your mobile device. Update your smartphone, including weeding out unneeded apps. Update your mobile OS to the latest version. Several companies offer security apps that will scan a mobile’s apps. Some apps have features like a remote lock/locate/wipe that will prevent a thief from using your device should you lose it.

13. Social setting cleanup. Have you locked down how your private information on Facebook can be shared? If not, go to Privacy Settings, then Apps, then click “edit” which is next to “Apps others use.” Delete all your “friends” who really aren’t your friends.

14. Home security system. Upgrade this if it is old technology. New wireless home alarms connect to your network and include home automation features too. This includes surveillance cameras, motion detectors, glass break sensors and controlling lights and temperature. Opt for remote monitoring from any device using apps on mobiles and tablets.

15. Declutter your e-mail files. These can get very messy over time. First start with your in-box. What’s been sitting there for ages that you’ll never open? Delete it. Next go to the sent/trash folders and weed out no-longer-needed emails. Also scour through any other e-mail folders. Delete folders you no longer need, and/or trim down ones you still use but contain messages that are now meaningless.

Follow these 15 tips to spring clean your digital security. A freshly cleaned-out digital life will give you peace of mind and enhance your personal security. Taking the time to clean up your digital life will be well-worth it, so do not put it off any longer!

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert to SecurityOptions.com discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures.

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