(WFXR) — Spring has sprung, which means it’s time for spring cleaning. If you’re feeling inspired to get rid of the physical clutter in your home, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) also wants to remind you about the importance of cleaning your digital data clutter from your electronic devices.
According to the BBB, digital clutter can lead to a number of issues, such as identity theft and credit card fraud.
“You have really weak passwords, you have a lot of personal credit card information, bank account information stored, and then it becomes accessible to crooks…you stand a chance of losing money,” said Julie Wheeler, president and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia.
Here are some tips from the BBB about how to protect your digital devices — and the sensitive data they may be holding — from potential thieves or cybercriminals:
- Lock down your login: Make sure the passwords for each account are lengthy and unique, stored safely, and kept private. You should also enable two-factor authentication on all accounts that offer it. Keep all your passwords private.
- Clean up your online presence: Check on all of your accounts and make sure you know who has administrative access.
- Update your system and software: Make sure your devices have the most current software, web browsers, and operating systems.
- Back up all data: Protect your data by making backups of your most important files using the “3-2-1 rule” — three backup copies, two different media types, and one offline in a separate location.
- Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices and be certain to wipe and overwrite: Simply deleting and emptying the trash isn’t enough to completely get rid of a file. You need to use a program that deletes the data, “wipes” it from your device, and then overwrites it by replacing your information with random data.
- Clear out stockpiles: If you have a stash of old hard drives or devices, that means information still exists and could be stolen. You are urged to wipe and/or destroy unneeded hard drives as soon as possible.
- Failed drives still contain data: On failed drives, wiping often fails, too. Shredding/destruction is the practical disposal approach for failed drives, but don’t return a failed drive to the manufacturer. Instead, use a trusted shredding company to dispose of your old hard drives.
You can check out the rest of the BBB’s Digital De-Clutter Checklist by following this link.
Meanwhile, if your spring cleaning led you to discover some sensitive documents that you want to get rid of — such as papers with your Social Security number on them, monthly statements, bills that have been paid, and even some junk mail — the BBB recommends shredding them rather than throwing them away.
The BBB Serving Western Virginia is throwing its annual “Secure Your ID Day” event at the Salem Civic Center from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 9. You can bring up to three boxes of sensitive documents to be properly destroyed using industrial shredders. There will also be BBB staff members at the event to provide advice for identity theft protection.