5 steps to spring clean your online information 

29/05/2018

In recent weeks, you've probably received multiple emails at the new Data Protection laws - GDPR- which have explained what data companies have on you, and whether or not you want to remain on their mailing lists. It has been a great opportunity to get rid of emails that you wanted at one time, but are no longer of interest. I've taken great delight in unsubscribing from some mailing lists, and like the fact that my inbox is now a bit lighter.

These are some steps you can follow to clean up your online data:

1) Review Online profiles

It's also a good time to look at each online account that you have, and to review your privacy settings. It can be time consuming, but take your time, do it slowly, and make sure that the amount of information available out there is limited, and that only friends and family can see your information. (PS, many of these sites allow you to create a Pseudonym, so you don't have to use your real name!)

There are some excellent tutorials on Youtube that will help you here:

Facebook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ajrt_U_UrUQ

Twitter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBn9Jm49wSY

Instagram: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK6DqiYb0dc

It's tedious, but take the time to read how the terms of service, especially what you are licensing the site to do with your pictures and content (ie Instagram can use your photos and data because signing up assigns them a license to use them)

If you're not happy with the Terms and Conditions, then close your account, although this won't necessarily remove information you posted which has been shared)

2) Google Yourself

This may seem a bit odd, but do a Google search on your name, putting your name in inverted commas ("). This tells Google to search for both parts of your name. Are there any accounts out there that you have forgotten, or has any of your data. If there is something you don't recognize, you can follow up on it.

3) Check to see if your data has been stolen

There are sites that allow you to check and see whether your data has been hacked. The site Have I been Pwned allows you to search for accounts that have been hacked or experienced security breaches. If any of your accounts come up as hacked, you need to change the passwords immediately.

4) Check your credit report

This is a good way to identify if any of your information has been used to open up accounts in your name. If there is anything you do not recognise, contact the lender immediately. If you have been a victim of fraud, you can have additional checks placed on your credit report, so that it's not so easy to use your data. I like Experian which we have used in the past to get deal with a mobile phone contract taken out without our knowledge.

An alternative is Clearscore, who advertise with the annoying speaking dog, although I have never used this site. Both offer free credit checks, and you can use Experian authentication with government websites.

5) Update your antivirus software

Hackers are constantly looking at new ways to access your information. For this reason, your antivirus software needs to be kept up to date at all times. Some companies (Universities in particular) provide their staff with free anti-virus software, so it's worth checking if your company does this. Services like Norton and McAfee offer monthly subscription options that usually involve updating the software regularly. There is a good, free alternative that I used for years without a glitch, and that's AVG. The free version doesn't do as much as the paid for versions, but will go a long way to keeping your computer free of viruses, and Trojan horses.

As with everything, you need to keep up to date with online security - so make sure you do some research to keep abreast of changes, and keep informed. Youtube is a great way to learn. This video will help you get started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuYNXgO_f3Y

if you're online, make sure your information is safe!