To-Do-List for National Clean Out Your Computer Day
What’s that? You didn’t know the second Monday in February is recognized as National Clean Out Your Computer Day? Yes, it’s true. No, you don’t get the day off to clean out your computer. But you should still partake in the observance, which was first sponsored by the Institute for Business Technology back in 2000 (That’s Y2K for those who remember).
This unofficial holiday is meant as a reminder to perform simple tasks, such as organizing your files and emptying the trash can on your desktop. But Forward Thinking reached out to Dr. Wendy Hicks, Program Chair for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice at Forbes School of Business® at Ashford University, for additional tips to help you organize and secure your data.
Keep important items on an external hard drive
You know that Word doc labeled “Passwords” on your desktop? That’s probably something you want to transfer to another drive, and give it a new name while you’re at it.
“A hard drive can become corrupted over time or seriously damaged in a natural disaster,” Dr. Hicks said. “Even something such as a traffic accident can result in destruction of a computer's hard drive.”
Even if you think such a scenario is unlikely, it’s better to be prepared. If all your files are backed up on an external hard drive or portable device, you’ll be insured in the event of a disaster.
Don’t skimp on security updates
While installing security software will protect your data, it’s not something you do just once.
“The computer or network is protected from the external threats known at that specific moment in time,” Dr. Hicks said. “Out of date security software becomes obsolete as time marches on and new threats emerge.”
Making sure to perform regular updates is your best protection from third-party attacks, including viruses, worms, malware, and pop-up ads.
Remember, deleted files aren’t always gone for good
Even if you’ve emptied the trash, your old documents and media still exist, and they can be retrieved. If you want something gone for good, Dr. Hicks recommended using a program such as SDelete and Eraser.
“In extreme circumstances it is possible to permanently eradicate data and files by destroying or reformatting the hard drive,” she added.
Practice the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)
According to Indiana University, the Principle of Least Privilege limits profile privileges “based on users’ job necessities.”
“Essentially this means one should not log onto their computer using their administrative credentials unless it is to perform specific tasks,” Dr. Hicks said. “Excessive use of the administrator log-in leaves the computer or network open to potential assault from external sources.”
The list of ways you can protect your data doesn’t end here, and includes everything from the common sense (Don’t click on random links) to the habitual (Remember to log out of or lock your computer). The more you live your life online, the more you’ll need to remember things like creating smart passwords and making sure a URL is secure. The more steps you take to protect yourself and your information, the more walls you’re erecting between that data and someone who wants to take it.
Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education