How Much Do You Know About Digital Hygiene?

The fact that you’re scanning this proves that you have a device that connects you to the internet and lets you read on it. It doesn’t even have to be a personal computer, as the smartphone revolution has given billions of people access to the world wide web than ever before.

This means you have a digital device, a digital presence, and a digital foot-print. Whatever device you use — computer, tablet, phablet or smartphone — you have an internet connection and online accounts (email, social media) that lets you talk with other people. You probably have more than a few online profiles.

If you own an online business, even better. You have all that and pay for a domain name and registration, security certificates, and hosting for your website, as well as own business information, customer information, and mailing list data.

Data Storage Solutions, the original article that inspired this one, was written way back when flash drives were just starting to be a thing. To say that a lot has changed since then would be a massive understatement. Now more than ever, you have to be more digitally savvy of how to handle your on-line accounts and data resources.

On a universal level, security is vital. You protect your privacy and your data, it’s just common sense. Hackers can compromise your identity — not just your online persona, but your identity. They can hold your data hostage, or ruin your brand. One breach, and the integrity and security of your data can be devastated. Four words: credit-card identity theft. Which is just one example.

On the street there are ATM skimmers, online there are phishers, brute-force hackers, malware and ransomware.  On your side of the computer screen there’s, well — there’s you. When was the last time you checked if you had a strong password? Have you added 2-step authentication to all your important accounts? And get this — do you actually remember the answers to your security questions?

Good Security Hygiene
People who are scrupulous about keeping themselves and their surroundings clean rarely get sick. Frequent hand-washing has also been noted as one way to keep healthy by preventing the transmissions of germs and bacteria. And viruses, take note. Ahem.

Hygiene is also important for electronic security reasons, and it’s not just keeping your keyboard free of sticky Cheeto-dust.

In case all of this is making you panic, here’s an exercise to calm yourself down and regain clarity. Use pen, paper, and hand-writing to engage your brain and put things into order. Write down:

  • How many email accounts do you have: What are the back-up accounts to each one?
  • How many social media accounts do you have: What is the sign-in email and or log-in for each one?
  • How many online financial and business accounts do you have: Same drill.

Check if you use one particular account to access the others. Connect accounts that are back-ups. Step back and look at your results.

Now check what protections are enabled for each account: HTTPS/secure sign-in, 2-factor authentication, regular scheduled password changes, back-up email account for notifications (also known as recovery options)  Find out how many levels of protection are enabled for your accounts.

You’re establishing a baseline and a record for your online digital estate. From the gathered information you can look at more options to protect yourself and your data online as well as offline.

The point of a clear digital hygiene plan is so you won’t have to worry so much about keeping your data safe, and to stir you out of complacency.  When you have data you need protected, you have to decide what kind of protection best suits your needs.  That means any combination of the stuff mentioned above, along with back-ups, good password practice, and redundancies woven in.

When you have a clear outline of the accounts you have, the online social media services you use, your various personal and business data to protect, and the sign-ins, back-up codes, and recovery options associated with each account, you can start drawing up the next stage of the plan, which is to ensure that you have reliable back-ups in place and running.  Keep strangers away from your data, and protect your data.

It will be time-consuming at first, but done right and with careful attention, with your system outlined and your strategies in place you’d be  buying peace of mind along with ensuring that you’ll always have a fall-back to quickly get you back into play.

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