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A Spring Cleaning for Your Cyber Life

Checking your location settings on laptop, browser and smartphone can help protect your personal information from scammers. (JESHOOTS/Pixabay)
Checking your location settings on laptop, browser and smartphone can help protect your personal information from scammers. (JESHOOTS/Pixabay)
April 18, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. - When was the last time you cleaned out your inbox or scrubbed the apps on your phone you don't use?

With spring cleaning on the minds of many, tech experts say home computers also need cleaning - that is, the email inbox and hard drive. Taking care of this digital housekeeping will help protect you from scammers and hackers, in addition to making your daily life easier, said Russell Schrader,. executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

"We're saying go through and get rid of apps that you haven't used," he said, "Clean out your inbox. Look at who is using what part of your information. Open up some space on your hard drive. Just get rid of all those things that might cause problems later on."

Schrader said it's also a good time to review your privacy and security settings on websites and make sure you're comfortable with the information you're sharing. Don't forget your location services and Bluetooth settings on mobile phones, he said, since many apps are able to track your location and activity.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently released new password recommendations. After years of experts suggesting obscure passwords filled with upper- and lower-case letters mixed with punctuation marks, Schrader said it's now considered better to use long phrases you can remember, even if they're lines from nursery rhymes or songs.

"What people do now is use pass phrases, things that are long, the longer the better, in terms of hacking," he said, "and they don't have to be as tricky. They just need to be long and memorable."

Schrader said it's also a good time to back up important data on a cloud or external hard drive.

More information is online at staysafeonline.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC