Tidying Up Cybersecurity
‘Hacking’ is on the increase. Multiple small municipalities have received ransomware attacks.
Cyber crime is increasing because we are a digital society. Cyber crime is increasing because thieves have discovered they don’t have to dodge real bullets.
That means you and me, our neighbors, co-workers and family have to be careful and smart about our own digital use. Just like we lock our house and car, we need to secure our digital world.
To secure our digital world begins with ‘spring cleaning’ of apps and software we are using. We can borrow from Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” series on Netflix. Ms. Kondo suggest as you go through your ‘clutter’ ask yourself with each item, “Does it spark joy?” If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you toss it.
We can apply the same concept to our digital world.
Start with your computer
Our computers—personal and business—hold a trove of files and programs that are often forgotten. In many cases, these software programs may be out of date or unnecessary—creating a cybersecurity concern. To start the tidying process, go through the programs that are installed on your computer. Ask yourself if the program sparks joy and if it is something you use on a regular basis. If not, delete it. Programs sitting idle on your machine can easily miss updates, leaving you vulnerable to hacks.
If you have any of the following programs on your computer, you certainly want to delete them unless they are integral to what you do. These programs are constant cybersecurity threats and many are no longer serviced by its provider:
- Adobe Flash Player
- Adobe Shockwave
- Apple Quicktime
As you go through the different programs on your computer, take a minute to check the update settings. If you can set the software to auto-update, you may want to consider choosing that setting. This ensures that your programs are receiving security patches as soon as they are released.
Take a closer look at your phone and tablet
Smartphones and tablets have radically changed how we interact with the world. New apps are released daily that can make life easier. Unfortunately, not all apps are created equal and many may be collecting and selling your data unbeknownst to you.
First, go through your handheld devices and delete the apps that you no longer use and no longer spark joy. For the apps that remain, review the privacy settings and the data you share with the app. You can do that through the settings of the device. In some cases, you can limit the data that is shared with the app. Also, be sure that the app is updated and running the most recent version.
Review your social media accounts
Social media allows us to stay connected with family and friends but can also cause us to share too much information with the wrong people and apps. To start, go through the friends and followers on your social media profiles and ask yourself if you still want this person to see details on your life. Remove those who are no longer a part of your life.
Then, visit the security settings for all of your social media accounts. Be sure they are set to private so you are not sharing personal data with the outside world.
Lastly, review the third-party apps that are linked to your Facebook account. Facebook has been in the news lately due to data leaks stemming from these third-party apps. To review the apps that have access to your Facebook account, go to Settings, then Apps, then Websites. There you can see which have access to your data. Remove those that no longer spark joy.
Maintaining good cybersecurity is an ongoing process. “Tidying up” your devices and digital life is a sensible step to take every year. It forces you to review the programs that you are sharing data with and decide if you still need to do so.
Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Other article to read here on cybersecurity are:
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