Turns out, spring cleaning isn’t just for closets and attics. According to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau, doing a little digital spring cleaning can keep you personal information from getting stolen by hackers.
Sometimes, people can unknowingly download free software or gone on a site that slips a virus into their computer. This can allow hackers to steal contacts, learn all of logins and passwords and discover the contact information for someone’s bank, doctor or dentist, which can help them to get you to reveal personal information by telephone or email.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz says people can lose all of their files, even if our computers are clean of malware.
“Hard drives have a limited lifespan and can suddenly corrupt your files. A mechanical problem such a crash may ruin your storage disk, and if you lose or drop your laptop or it is lost or stolen, all of your cherished photos, videos, emails and documents will be gone,” Schwartz said in a news release.
To help protect your info, the BBB offers the following tips for spring cleaning:
Keep software up to date: Those patches and updates often close security vulnerabilities. Install/apply operating system and software patches as soon as possible.
Back up files: Storage drives are inexpensive and in a few minutes you will have copies of all of your files and other media so that if you get hacked, or if your computer is lost or stolen, you will still have those files.
Secure smart devices: Your smartphone, tablet and all digital storage devices should be protected by a password and contain tracking software to enable you to find a lost or stolen device.
Lock the “digital doors” with software: Antivirus software is of little use if you don’t keep it updated and scan your device weekly for malware. If you don’t use your computer often, update and scan before you go online.
Fix your passwords: Millions of passwords and logins have been stolen in data breaches, and victims of computer-based fraud often admit they use the same password for multiple accounts, or a password that is easy to guess. Often, information contained in people’s passwords are taken from social media profiles, such as pet names or the names of family members.
Experts recommend a combination of upper and lower case letters, numerals and a symbol. Free password management software is available online. It can generate strong passwords, store them and log you in to your favorite sites automatically.