Sharing personal data may be inevitable when we do various online transactions. However, it is best if we make it a habit to wipe clean the digital trail we create as we use gadgets and applications 24/7.
“Doing so will protect you from identity theft, loss of funds, even damage to your reputation by the use of stolen personal data,” said Jonathan John B. Paz, BPI Enterprise Information Security Officer and Data Privacy Officer.
To protect your privacy and avoid being a fraud victim, here are six ways to do a digital clean up:
1. Delete your personal data from old devices before disposing, reselling, or donating them. For computers, use a disk cleaning software to permanently delete information. For smartphones and tablets, do a factory reset. For other devices, in addition to doing a hard reset, remove hard drives and memory cards, if any.
2. Secure your smartphones by uninstalling apps that you do not need because they not only waste energy but could also be exploited to leak information. Clear storage space of files and remove duplicates—check for downloads, media files, and messages that you do not need anymore.
3. Deactivate or close the accounts you registered in the apps before uninstalling them. Purging those that you no longer use is a good way to minimize your digital footprint and lessen the likelihood of data leakage. Think twice before installing an app and creating an account, and ask yourself if it will serve your purpose. Do not reuse passwords across online services, especially passwords that you use for online banking.
4. Do a digital clean up of your computers to prevent data from loosely lying around. Delete all files that you no longer need and organize those you will keep. Uninstall unused programs. Uninstall unimportant web browser extensions that you might have inadvertently enabled. Clear your cache to delete personal information you may have used in answering online forms.
5. Organize your email inbox by categories: promotions, chat message notifications, social media notifications, past events or announcements, etc. Be cautious in sharing your email address and make a note to whom you do. Unsubscribe from newsletters that no longer serve your purposes. Reply to new emails at once so they don’t pile up.
6. Use your social media accounts wisely to prevent scammers from harvesting your personal information. Review your privacy settings and enable multi-factor authentication wherever available. Delete old and unused accounts. Delete posts that reveal too much of yourself or are not relevant anymore. Do not overshare. Be cautious of what or with whom you engage online.
“Your digital footprint might be there to stay, but you can limit your vulnerability to scammers and fraudsters,” said Paz. “Consider these tips to keep your personal information safe from their craftiness that grow by the year. Make digital clean-up a habit today.”