The 5 Minute Guide™ to Digital Spring Cleaning

Security & Privacy, Tips & Tricks

The idea of giving your home a good, swift cleaning to celebrate the renewal of spring has persisted in several cultures for decades. But wouldn’t Late Winter Cleaning make more sense — at least when it comes to your digital life?

While you’re still mostly — depending on where you live — stuck inside with few exciting selfie opportunities, here are few quick steps you can take to make it feel like spring, at least when you’re online.

1. Delete any mobile apps you aren’t using.
On your iOS device, this is as easy as holding down any app until all the apps get wobbly and offer an X to delete it. Start Xing away. Not sure if you’ll miss a app? You can always reinstall it.

On your Android device, Sean Sullivan, F-Secure Security Advisor, recommends visiting play.google.com on your PC to uninstall apps you don’t need. You can also install apps from there.

2. Kill Flash.
Sean and the F-Secure Labs have been arguing for years that everyone would be better off without Adobe Flash running on their machines, given the security vulnerabilities that have plagued it. Browser developers are catching up with this prognosis and have cutting back on Flash support steadily. But it’s likely you still have Flash installed on your PC.

To uninstall it on your Mac, search “Adobe Flash Player Install Manager” then select the top result and click “Uninstall”.

To uninstall it in Windows, you can use Adobe’s uninstaller.

3. Check your social media settings.
Go to your Facebook privacy settings and review “Who can see my stuff?”, “Who can contact me?” and “Who can look me up?”. If the answer isn’t “Friends” for all of the above, you should at least have a good reason why you’re exposing yourself to the world.

Now check your Twitter privacy settings.Consider activating “Verify login requests” and “Require personal information to reset my password” Now go to your Apps and “Revoke access” to any app you aren’t sure you need.

4. Clean-up your browser plugins.
Sean recommends you disable any plugins you know you don’t use and see which ones you miss.

Firefox
1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager tab will open.
2. In the Add-ons Manager tab, select the Extensions or Appearance panel.
3. Select the add-on you wish to disable.
4. Click its Disable button.
5. Click Restart now if it pops up. Your tabs will be saved and restored after the restart.

Safari
1. Go to “Preferences”, then click “Security”.
2. Click on “Plug-in Settings” and unclick anything you’re not using. Not sure if you’ll miss a plug-in? You can always reinstall it.
3. While you’re here select “Notifications” and “Deny” any notifications you don’t want.

Internet Explorer
1. Click “Tools” and then “Manage Add-ons”.
2. Click “Downloaded controls” to display all ActiveX controls.
3. Click the ActiveX control you want to delete, and then click More information.
4. In the More Information dialog box, click Remove.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until done.

Chrome has removed plugin settings for users. Here’s how you can check to make sure Flash is disabled.
1. Go to “Preferences” and select “Settings”.
2. At the bottom, click “Show advanced settings”.
3. Under “Privacy,” click Content settings.
4. Find the “Flash” section.

5. Clean up your webmail inbox.
The good thing about most webmail accounts is you never have to delete anything. And that’s the bad thing about webmail accounts. Ask John Podesta.

So if you got this far, you should go the extra step to clean up your webmail inbox. This could take a while. If you don’t feel up to it, at least make sure you have 2-factor authentication activated for your Gmail, Hotmail or any webmail account you use.

[Image by Daniel Hall | Flickr]

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