A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB: Spring cleaning should include closets, basements, garages — and PASSWORDS

New season, new password. Springtime traditionally inspires people to clean out their closets. But this year, there are areas that require cleanup that may be overlooked — such as digital devices. Many people are still working from home, making the recent focus on cybersecurity and protecting sensitive information as critical as ever. BBB reminds everyone that when it’s time to clean out physical clutter, there’s probably a bunch of digital clutter that should be purged as well.

BBB photos

Taking simple and proactive steps will go a long way in protecting yourself from identity theft, loss of funds and even credit card fraud.

Follow these tips as spring cleaning comes your way:

• Lock down your login. Security is critical to protecting accounts being used for work and for home. Ensure passphrases for each account are lengthy, unique, and safely stored. Enable 2-factor authentication on all accounts that offer it.
• Update your system and software. Avoid procrastination! Having the most current software, web browsers, and operating systems are some of the easiest and fastest ways to protect your most sensitive assets.
• Back it up. Protect your personal and workplace data by making electronic copies — or backups — of your most important files. Use the 3-2-1 rule to help guide you: 3 backup copies, 2 different media types, 1 offline and in a separate location.

• Clean up your online presence. When was the last time you used all of the apps on your phone or tablet? Delete apps and accounts you haven’t used within the last 6 months.

• Be careful what you share. Quizzes are fun and keeping in touch is a necessity these days. However, watch out for apps and questions that might give away too much information about you, your family or your location.

• Clear out stockpiles. If you have a stash of old hard drives or other devices — even if they’re in a locked storage area — information still exists and could be stolen. Don’t wait: wipe and/or destroy unneeded hard drives as soon as possible.

• Empty your trash bin on all devices. It’s crucial to permanently delete old files. Use a program that deletes the data, “wipes” it from your device and then overwrites it by putting random data in place of your information — which then cannot be retrieved.
Report scams to Scamtracker.org, Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov and FBI’s Internet Crim

Better Business Bureau 

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