Many of us are familiar with the concept of spring cleaning. This year, consider taking some time to spring clean your digital life, too, especially as our world continues to move online. Just like your home, your digital life can become cluttered; things pile up, become out of date, get lost, are no longer needed, or need some care. 

A good digital spring cleaning can help keep your devices and information safe and secure year-round. It can also help improve the speed and performance of your devices and services and reduces the risk that a hacker could access old information you’ve forgotten about.

Here are a few tips for refreshing, renewing, and reinvigorating your cyber life:

  • Review your online accounts.
    • Delete any accounts you no longer use.
    • Remove information that isn't needed anymore from your accounts, such as saved credit cards or old documents in cloud storage.
  • Update your devices.
    • Update the apps and operating system on all internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, home wi-fi routers, smart TVs, and more, to reduce the risk of malware and infections.
    • Delete unused apps.
  • Tune up web browsers.
    • Check your browser settings. Clear out old data, such as stored passwords and old autofill information, and ensure your browser is not set to store passwords.
    • Delete unused browsers.
  • Purge old digital files.
    • Clean out your old email, files, and downloads. Always empty the trash when you’re done.
      • Keep UC retention requirements in mind when purging work files!
      • Contact your IT department for assistance disposing of sensitive information.
    • Unsubscribe from newsletters, email alerts, and mailing lists that you no longer read.
  • Lock down your login.
    • Use a password, passcode, fingerprint, or facial recognition to log into all of your devices. Enable the strongest authentication tools available.
    • Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-step verification or two-factor authentication, on accounts like email, banking, and social media where available.
    • Take an inventory of your passwords. Are they all long and strong? Change any that aren’t.
    • Use a unique password for each account.
    • Consider using a password manager to store and protect your passwords.
  • Refresh your online presence.
    • Review and update your online profiles on social media sites.
    • Review your privacy and security settings on social media sites and other sites you use. Set them at your comfort level for sharing.
    • Delete old photos, posts, etc. that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are.
    • Review friends on social networks and contacts on phones and other devices. Does everyone still belong?
    • Actively manage your location services, Bluetooth, microphone, and camera – making sure apps use them appropriately.
  • Backup your files.
    • Make a complete backup of important files. Copy important data to a secure cloud site, another computer, or an external hard drive where it can be safely stored. Password-protect backup drives.
    • Backup your files before disposing of a device.
    • Be sure you can restore the files from your backup; a backup that you can't use isn't very helpful!
    • Keep UC security requirements in mind if you make your own backups of work files. Contact your IT department for assistance.
  • Dispose of electronic devices securely.
    • Inventory your devices and media, and take the following steps:
      • Securely dispose of electronic information you no longer need, just as you would shred sensitive paper information. Anything that has the ability to store information can retain that information even after you have deleted it, including phones, wearables, networking equipment, copiers, printers, and fax machines.
      • Thoroughly wipe all electronic devices or have them shredded by a trusted vendor before disposal.
      • Contact your IT department for information about secure data or device disposal to ensure compliance with UC's Institutional Information Disposal Standard.

Follow our hashtag #dscUCinfosec for more tips and tricks to keep you and your digital life safe, and follow our social media @UCSBInfoSec on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.