Despite the recent cold snap across Texas, spring is in full swing, and there is a good chance that your weekend plans may include scrubbing baseboards or preparing for a garage sale. While clearing out clutter is an annual ritual for many households, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) have teamed up to remind all consumers to not forget about their digital clutter.
This is becoming increasingly important, especially as data breaches become more common in our hyper-connected world. It’s only been six months since the breach at Equifax affected nearly 148 million Americans, exposing highly personal information like Social Security numbers. Even as recently as last week, there were several more high-profile data breaches against businesses like Under Armour and Best Buy.
A good rule of thumb is to consistently keep a keen eye on all sensitive accounts like online banking, your credit cards and credit report. A recent survey by CreditCards.com indicates that half of Americans still have not checked their credit reports since the Equifax breach back in September.
For those wanting to do a digital refresh, it is a relatively simple process. NCSA and BBB have identified our top, trouble-free tips and advice that everyone should follow beginning this spring and throughout the year.
Keep a clean machine: Ensure all software on internet-connected devices — including PCs, smartphones and tablets — is up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
Lock down your login: Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Add extra layers of security like biometrics or a PIN. For example, a new scam, called porting, targets your smartphone by hijacking your phone number and using it to gain access to your personal accounts. One way to prevent this would be to call your service provider and set up an authentication number. This way, no changes can be made to your phone plan without putting in that authentication number, first.
Own your online presence: Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure that they remain set to your comfort level for sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information. This is especially important following the massive data sharing breach of Facebook by Cambridge Analytics, which affected around 87 million users.
For more information on digital spring cleaning, head to BBB.org. To report a scam, go to BBB.org/scamtracker.