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Spring Cleaning: 5 Cyber Tips to Tidy Up Your Digital Life

By Diane Amato

Published May 25, 2023 • 4 Min Read

Here are five steps you can take to spring-clean your digital life:

1. Update your passwords

Are you using the same password for just about everything? While many people find this an easy way to remember their sign-in details, it may be a dangerous habit to get into. After all, if one account is hacked or a password is revealed through a data breach, it can be easy for a fraudster to access multiple platforms.

The best defence is to ensure your passwords are unique and difficult to guess. The longer, the better — at least 16 characters – and consider a passphrase for even greater security. If your technology allows, use security features such as facial recognition, fingerprint access and passcodes to access your devices.

For more tips to create strong passwords, look at our article Cyber Safety 101: 3 Tips for Easy Password Protection.

2. Review your apps and account settings

If you have online accounts with your favourite stores, you know how easy it is to purchase products when your credit card and contact details are saved. While most retailers have excellent security protocols to keep your information safe, now is a good time to remove your information from accounts you no longer use so you don’t have your personal data spread across too many places.

Adding multi-factor authentication to your purchase process (where you verify your identity through two or more credentials, such as your password and a one-time code sent to your phone) can help provide a greater level of security when you pay for things online.

This is also a great time to consider whether your privacy settings reflect your current social media usage. Reviewing your settings can help ensure you control how your information is shared and with whom.

Learn smart social media habits in our article Cyber Safety 101: The Risks of Oversharing.

3. Update your devices

Do you have apps on your smartphone, tablet or computer that you no longer use? Are there automatic renewals or updates scheduled for subscriptions you don’t want anymore? Are you sharing your location with apps in the background … but don’t want others to have that information?

Take the time to go through your devices to ensure you’re not sharing more information than you want or paying for things that you don’t use. By going through your settings, you can generally update all of this information in just a few minutes.

4. Secure your Wi-Fi

Working from home and online shopping have remained high since the pandemic, so home Wi-Fi has never been more important. It’s worth making sure yours is secure.

Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Check to see if your router is in the middle of your house. If it’s too close to the street, it could be easier for people outside your home to intercept the signal

  • Check that any software used by your router is up-to-date and the settings are appropriate

  • Make sure you have disabled remote access. By doing so, you’re making it very difficult for anyone to access your signal from an unauthorized device

  • If you’re using the default password on the router that came with the device, now is a good time to change it

  • It’s wise to consider setting up separate networks — for example, one for your commonly-used/non-sensitive online usage like streaming services, and another for confidential purposes — such as online banking and tax returns

5. Back up your files

Ever consider what might happen if your computer were stolen, damaged or wouldn’t turn on one day? Copying your important data to backup hard drives or secure cloud-based sites allows you to store your important files in the cloud and access them no matter what happens to your personal device. It can help to add strong password protection.

If you dispose of old devices during your digital clean-up, delete all potentially sensitive information. Wipe photos, passwords, credit card details and more from your device so the next owner can’t access them.

With spring cleaning in the air, this is an ideal opportunity to make sure your digital life is as safe as possible. You’ll help reduce the risk of fraud and improve the performance of your devices.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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