A digital spring clean

A digital spring clean

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19 April 2024

David Paice, our new Director for Digital Transformation, shares three actionable cybersecurity tips, including advice on deleting old apps. Read below for this practical blog post.

It’s amazing to think that 99 per cent of data created by the human race has been generated over the last 10 years – since 2013. Much of it, I’m sure, takes the form of comical cat videos across Instagram, YouTube and other feline-friendly portals. Also contributing to this total will be the 150-plus million hours of video conferencing that happens every day, which includes the more wholesome disciplines of coaching and mentoring.

It seems appropriate, therefore, as spring is here (apparently?) to engage in a little digital spring cleaning and help reduce some of our unnecessary digital detritus. Especially since 90 per cent of the data we create is never accessed more than three months later.

Here are three tips that may prove useful, and they start with an important cybersecurity matter:

1. Two-factor-authentication – I would be surprised if you are not already using this in some context. It seems impossible to bank online without it these days. There is good reason why the banks insist on it – so should you. If there are services you use that offer it, now is the time to take them up.

Two-factor authentication, abbreviated as 2FA, is a secure login process that requires two forms of identification for access. Often the second form of identification can only be accessed on a different device to where the login process is taking place. More information on this from Which? the consumer service organisation.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the humble password is slowly being replaced by a passkey – more on that here.

2. Deleting old apps and the accounts that go with them – Android and Apple make it very easy to delete apps from our phones. But what that process doesn’t do is delete the data stored by your account with that service provider. Before you spring clean any old and unloved apps, ensure your account is closed and deleted with the provider first. That way, there is less likelihood that your data could be exposed if they are subsequently hacked, even though you no longer have the app on your phone.

3. Getting rid of hardware altogether – with so much data stored on devices, throwing out old phones and laptops can become a risk if data is subsequently extracted and exploited. What steps can you take to remove as much data as possible from phones, laptops and PCs when you no longer need them?

There are links here that offer useful guides for users of Windows, Apple iOS and Android. A useful principle to bear in mind is that once you have deleted all your data, or used a service to do so, try to recover some yourself, or use a service to try this. If you can recover it, then it will be very easy for hackers to do the same.

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