It’s not exactly Spring in this neck of the woods, but it never hurts to do a cleanup starting with your tech devices and electronics. Now, I’m not just talking about wiping off the dust on your monitor and keyboard. What I’m talking about is ensuring that your computer, laptop and other devices are running at the optimum level as well as keeping them cybersafe.
Here are some of our top tips for doing your own tech clean up plus why it's important.
1. Protect your digital footprint from cyber crime by using VPN.
A virtual private network (VPN) provides end-to-end encryption for the internet connection being utilised by your devices. and therefore, using one keeps your business web activities relatively more secure than if you’re not using VPN. By using a VPN, you’re screening your business’ data and web activities from hackers, the government, competitors and fake wi-fi because all your activities are encrypted within your VPN. If you don’t already have a VPN set up, contact your IT partner to help you with setting up a Virtual Private Network for your organisation.
2. Always keep updated with the latest software for your apps.
Your smartphones and tablets are useful (and addictive!) because of the applications that are installed in them. These apps are constantly being improved by their developers to meet their users’ demands which means you're required to update your apps every so often to ensure you have the latest version. The persistent notifications asking you to update can sometimes be annoying but doing updates is actually very helpful in keeping your apps running smoothly. Having your device properly patched (which is done during updates) can also help increase security and lessen the likelihood of network infiltration.
3. Set up and turn on auto-sync to your cloud backup.
The cloud is at its peak of utilisation nowadays. It seems like most digital data, if not, all is being stored online. It can be a risky place to keep your data floating around, and many organisations have already suffered the consequences of unsecured data online. That is why more and more organisations are ensuring their data security by utilising safe cloud backups. Cloud based data backup solutions are equipped with the most advanced data protection technologies and your data is kept in a remote location giving you the assurance that you’ll be able to access and recover your backed up data no matter the situation. There are a lot of reliable cloud backup providers around. Talk to your IT partner to figure out which would best suit your organisation’s needs.
4. Enable Multi-factor Authentication.
We highly recommend all our clients add in an extra layer of security to your accounts by enabling Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). A lot of methods can be used by cyber criminals to force their way into your accounts, but by setting up MFA, it enforces an additional layer of security that has to be entered by you in real time to authenticate the account. By doing so, you’re disarming the attackers and significantly reducing the likelihood of unauthorised access to both your device and the network you’re part of.
5. Clear out unused apps on your smartphones.
To be able to use phone apps you need to download them but having these apps in your phone spends your internal phone memory (which is not expandable). If you store applications that are not in use, you’re unintentionally wasting your device’s storage capacity and losing the opportunity to install or save more important apps and files. Make it a point to purge out your devices of unnecessary applications.
6. Turn off your Bluetooth when not in use.
Wireless devices are usually connected via Bluetooth - from earphones to camera shutters to smart watches. Those of us who use Bluetooth technology for the convenience of wireless connectivity can often leave our Bluetooth on all the time unknowingly making our devices vulnerable to malicious attacks. For example, BlueBorne, an air born “attack vector”, can affect Android, iOS, Linux and Windows devices penetrate through air-gapped networks that is left open when your Bluetooth is on and spreads malware so cyber criminals can hack into your private data. With that in mind, it is important to turn off Bluetooth when not in use.
7. Use a passphrase and a password manager.
How confident are you that your current password is secure? It can be a tough job to try to remember the many passcodes we need in today's digital world. A simple password can make you easily vulnerable to cyber crimes like phishing attacks, so you also need to ensure it's secure. A passphrase can come in handy in this situation. You can find our quick infographic about creating a secure passphrase here. If you don’t fancy creating your own passphrase, you can use a password manager that can provide you one and at the same time manage your passwords for you. There are some cool password managers around, some of them you can find listed in one of our blogs. Which one do you like to use?
8. Do a quick permissions audit on apps that allow intrusive functions.
More and more apps are including features to help keep the app function at an optimal level but, along with this, is a whole lot of required functionality permissions that a user needs to agree to - like giving the Camera app access to your GPS location. In most cases, you’re left with no choice but to allow these functions however intrusive they may seem because, otherwise, you can’t use the app at all. However, some functions may put your device at risk for giving out too much information available for crawlers to pry into. Disable these unnecessary permissions to save yourself from the worry.
9. Review apps that have access to your email and social media.
Make sure that the emails and social media accounts that are linked to your apps were authorised by you. Some apps can illegally get access to your email, social media and other personal information that gives them the capability to send emails, post on your timeline, or message your contacts without your consent. To avoid these from happening, you should constantly do a review on your apps that are given permission to access your accounts then disconnect those that seem unnecessary or dubious.
10. Take the road to Inbox Zero.
With all the emails rushing along in huge numbers, it can be intimidating and at times frustrating to go through all your emails. Why don’t you start by dedicating 10 minutes to doing a clear out of your email inbox. If you have Outlook, you are able to filter between Focused emails and Other (promotional) emails, which helps. One of the strategies I use is to sort by sender (who knew that I had so many emails piling up from one online store!) and find that I can often delete many emails in one go. As you go through your inbox, ensure you unsubscribe from newsletters or promotional emails that you no longer open or read anymore, then move on to deleting read emails that you don’t need to keep on file.
When was the last time you did a quick check up on your tech devices? Download our handy checklist and try to tick off one item per day and pretty soon your tech will be looking super tidy.