For added cyber security, experts recommend spring cleaning your tech

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Experts say cleaning up your data, hardware, and online presence can further protect you as ransomware and hackers put your data, and industry data, at risk.

Nick Thomas, IT Security Director at All Points and host/co-founder of InfoSecSync, said it is increasingly important to protect your data.

"I think every year it [cyber] becomes a bigger threat than it was the year previously," he said. "It is important to protect your assets."

Thomas shared some things you can do to "spring clean" your technology, the same way you would purge your home. He said not only can you save some space on your computer or devices and perhaps improve their operating speed, but it can keep you safe from online thieves.

  • Check your browser:

"Delete your cache," he advised. Usually you can do this in your browser preferences or settings. He recommends clearing browsing data, cookies, and cached images and files.

  • Delete any unused accounts

"So, your old Myspace account?" Thomas laughed. "Yes, you want to go and delete things like that, because they are going to sit on those servers with your information on them. Your old information, that you may have forgotten about."

Thomas said deleting your information from old accounts, and then deactivating them, can keep your data from being discovered online.

  • Clean out your hard drive

Thomas recommends turning to your hard drive next. Delete any old files you don't need.

  • Begin a backup

To keep what you do need, Thomas said it is important to back up your information regularly. Whether you use Apple, or a service, or your own hard drive, he said it can save you a big headache if you are hit with ransomware.

"If they lock your computer down, you can go back to the latest backup you had," he said. "Then, you just wipe your system clean and get a new hard drive, then start over again."

  • Pay attention to your email accounts

Thomas said frequently, people go wrong when they connect the same email account to everything.

"Have more than one email," he said. "If you have one email and you have everything connected to it (your AppleID, your Google, your credit cards, and everything, you're vulnerable. It depends on how weak your password is, and once the hacker gets in there he can own you. You would have to prove who you are."

Thomas recommends using different emails for different applications. And use https when you are online to ensure the websites are secure.

  • Review your passwords

Not only is it a good idea to change your password to something when you know it has been compromised, like the recent Yahoo breach, but you should review them regularly.

During "spring cleaning" is a good time.

Thomas says you should pay attention to not just regular accounts, but also applications or equipment you own, including a router.

"You want to change your SSID, which is your identification, and you want to change your passowrd immediately because they come default out of the box," he said of new routers. "Every hacker in the world knows exactly what these defaults are, and they sniff the internet daily looking for open ports."

He added, "When they find it, they can stay there for as long as they want and collect data."

National Cyber Security

CyberHuntsville and others are hosting the National Cyber Summit at the Von Braun Center this upcoming week.

It is from June 6-8.

The summit brings cyber professionals together with citizens, educators and other industries to talk about cyber training, education, and workforce development that can be used to protect the nation from cyber threats.

There will also be a job fair as part of the summit on Wednesday, to recruit cyber professionals.

The summit boasts unique opportunities to network, showcase security solutions, and learn new skills.

To learn more about it, click here.