Whether at home or work, spring cleaning your digital devices is important.

A digital declutter involves a thorough review of all digital devices. Some of these might include computers, tablets, wearables, mobile phones, external hard drives, copiers, USB drives, tape drives, fax machines and printers.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) offer several tips to get started:

  • Update software on devices to reduce the risk of downloading viruses or malware.
  • Uninstall unused software or apps.
  • Purge online files as you would paper files, deleting files you no longer need.
  • Clean-out your email inbox. Save only the emails needed and unsubscribe to emails, newsletters and alerts you no longer wish to receive.
  • Backup important data to a secure cloud site or password protected external hard drive.
  • Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices and be certain to wipe and overwrite. Deleting and emptying the trash isn’t enough to completely get rid of a file. Permanently delete old files using a program that deletes the data, “wipes” it from your device and overwrites it by putting random data in place of your information.
    • For devices like tape drives, remove any identifying information that may be written on labels before disposal, and use embedded flash memory or networking or office equipment to perform a full factory reset and verify that no potentially sensitive information still exists on the device.
  • Know what devices to digitally “shred”.Computers and mobile phones aren’t the only devices that capture and store sensitive, personal data. External hard drives and USBs, tape drives, embedded flash memory, wearables, networking equipment and office tools like copiers, printers and fax machines all contain valuable personal information.
  • To securely discard hard drives that are no longer needed, use a trusted shredding company.
  • Review privacy statements and security settings on websites visited and apps downloaded. Know what, how and to whom your information is being shared.
  • Review security measures in place for important accounts such as banking, online shopping and email. Strengthen these accounts by using the strongest authentication available.

Business specific tips include:

  • Limiting administrative access to online accounts to only those employees who need access to perform their job responsibilities.
  • Reviewing your organization’s cybersecurity readiness policy. Make a plan to review yearly and test your readiness for a cyber incident.
  • Review your organization’s records retention guidelines. If you don’t have a policy in place, establish one and share with your customers.
  • Perform a data assessment by knowing what information you are collecting and storing. Determine if that information is relevant. If not, stop collecting and safely dispose of what information has been collected.
  • Close social media accounts no longer used.

A digital spring cleaning helps ensure your personal information is kept personal and secure while providing more storage.