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28/04/2020
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You’ve tidied the house from top to bottom, the garden is looking an absolute picture, and you have ploughed through every worthwhile movie and TV series on your streaming services. So what to do next as this lockdown continues?

What about some digital decluttering? Oliver Noble is an encryption specialist for NordLocker, a tool developed by VPN service provider NordVPN to secure files stored on a computer or in the cloud with end-to-end encryption, and he suggests using any downtime you have to sort out your digital mess. 

“We all have volumes of valuable information and now, as we are all staying home, we finally have enough time to take care of it,” Oliver says. “No more excuses — you can do this.” 

Taking some simple, proactive steps will go a long way towards safeguarding you against many potential digital threats – identity theft, loss of funds, credit card fraud, and cyberbullying. Oliver has compiled a digital clean-up checklist that he says is easy even for non-techies to implement.

Change your passwords: One of the first things you need to do is change your passwords, especially the ones you use for the most important accounts. These include email, social media, favourite shopping websites, and financial services. All passwords should be unique, lengthy, and safely stored. Use a reliable password manager for this.

Update your software and system: Having the latest operating system, web browser, applications, and security software is one of the easiest ways to protect data and keep your devices secure. Updates often include important fixes and repair previous security flaws. “If you have no pending updates, that means you are using the most secure versions of all your software,” Oliver says.

Back up your files: Nobody wants to lose their data, whether it’s personal files such as family photos and health records, or work-related documents. The easiest way to protect such data is to make electronic copies, or back-ups. They can be stored in the cloud or some other external storage, such as a USB stick. “This step is especially important nowadays when ransomware attacks on private and business users are getting more and more popular.” 

Delete unused accounts: You’ve likely been using the internet for long enough to forget some of the accounts you’ve created. However, the forgotten ones pose a real threat. If one of your old accounts is hacked, it can become an open door for cybercriminals to get into your email, Facebook, and even computer or smartphone. So make a list of all your old online accounts and start deleting them. If you decide to keep them, make sure to change their passwords.

Take care of your old devices: Computers, mobile phones, USBs, drives, wearables, networking equipment – even printers or fax machines – capture and store sensitive personal information. If you are not using those devices, wipe them clean. Simply deleting files isn’t enough to get rid of them. Use a program that shreds the data completely and wipes it from the device. Only then can the information no longer be retrieved. Another way is performing a full factory reset. “Once the device is clean, you can trade it, sell it, give it away, recycle it, or have it destroyed.” 

NOTE: Mornington Peninsula Magazine does not endorse NordLocker and suggests you make your own inquiries regarding computer file security tools, but we did think Oliver Noble’s digital clean-up tips were worth sharing with you. Stay safe!

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