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July 21, 2018

Cybersecurity Spring-Cleaning: How To Tidy Up Your Digital Footprint To Help Avoid Data Breaches

By NAPS,
North American Precis Syndicate .

New York , NY .
Photo: NAPS

It's a good idea to give your digital devices an annual "cleaning" to get rid of old data. (NAPS)

(NAPSI)—Similar to how dust collects in the nooks and crannies of homes during the winter, many people have accumulated years of data from old devices, e-mail accounts and online profiles. All this available information creates a digital footprint that could leave them exposed to unnecessary cybersecurity risks.

As many people look to refresh their living spaces each spring with a deep cleaning, cybersecurity experts also recommend that people take the time to clean their digital presence.

"In today's world of connected devices, we often overlook the volume of data available online. All this information creates a digital footprint that cybercriminals can use to hack devices and accounts," said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean, University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology, School of Business and College of Security and Criminal Justice. "It is a good practice to periodically purge old data to help reduce that footprint and decrease the likelihood of cyberattacks."

According to a University of Phoenix survey,* nearly half (43 percent) of U.S. adults have experienced a personal data breach in the past three years. As a result, 85 percent have adjusted their online habits, such as deleting suspicious e-mails (61 percent), avoiding clickbait (49 percent) and limiting personal information shared online (43 percent).

To help decrease data breaches, Bonilla suggests the following three steps to tidy up your digital footprint.

1. Create a secondary e-mail account

Many websites may require an e-mail address to register or access information. These sites can be hacked and allow cybercriminals access to login credentials that are shared with other websites. Bonilla uses a primary work e-mail but creates secondary e-mail accounts for mailing lists and profile-protected websites to help avoid spam or phishing attempts.

He warns not to use secondary e-mail accounts to sign up for things like social media sites or applications with companies or people who may share your information with third-party sites.

2. Remove unused social networks and mobile apps

Social media sites possess a wealth of personal information that can be stolen without proper security measures in place. Unused or old accounts should be deactivated and personal information should be removed.

Additionally, Bonilla encourages mobile users to delete apps they do not frequent from their smartphones, as these often collect and share data. Make sure to check the security settings before installing apps. If they require access to contacts, locations or other data, decide if the app is worth sharing that information.

3. Manage financial accounts

Similar to social media accounts, Americans should remove financial information from online vendor accounts. If you do not frequent an online retailer, Bonilla says to check out as a guest to reduce the number of websites that store your financial information.

While many companies have fraud and security settings in place, data can be at risk if a company experiences a breach. Using more-secure payment options like PayPal can also help keep your data secure.

These steps can help limit data breaches, but Bonilla said that Americans must be aware that any data shared online could be stolen.

"We can never truly remove content about us that is available online, nor can we fully prevent criminals from attempting to breach our data," Bonilla said. "Consider limiting the amount of personal info you share online. The less information available, the safer you can be."

*This poll was conducted from May 25−30, 2017, among a national sample of 1991 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

""Consider limiting the amount of personal info you share online. The less information available, the safer you can be," said Dennis Bonilla of the University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology. http://bit.ly/2FJCL6R"

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)


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