In today's fast-paced digital world, our computers play a vital role in our daily lives. They help us communicate, manage our finances, store important documents and much more. However, there have never been more threats to our digital security. In 2022, the Anti-Phishing Working Group reported the highest level of phishing activity on record: four times the number of attacks since early 2020. These digital attacks have real world implications: in May 2022 the Federal Bureau of Investigation shared that they had tracked a loss of US$43 billion in financial losses between 2016 and 2021 from business email compromise. As the dangers to your computer have progressed over time, it is important for you to adapt as well.
National Clean Out Your Computer Day has been around in the United States since 2000 as a reminder to take a step back and evaluate the state of our digital security. We also have more devices than ever, so remember that these same tips can apply to your laptop, tablet and smartphone.
As a leading provider of digital trust, DigiCert understands the importance of protecting your online assets. That's why we've put together this guide to help you take control of your computer security.
Before you start cleaning out your computer, it's essential to back up your files. This way, you can ensure that all your important documents and photos are safe and secure. There are several ways to back up your files, including:
Once you've backed up your data, it's time to start cleaning out your computer. Extra files and programs can cause your system to slow down and clog your device’s memory. Delete any unused programs and files that are taking up valuable space on your hard drive.
To delete files and apps on a Mac:
To delete files and apps on Windows:
Updating your operating system and software is an essential step in maintaining your computer's security. Updates often contain critical security patches and bug fixes that help protect your computer from malware and other cyber threats. Make sure to regularly check for updates and install them as soon as they become available. Ideally, you should set your software and programs to update automatically.
Finally, make sure you are using strong passwords for all of your accounts and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) when you can. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long, contain a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters and should not be used for more than one account. You can use a password manager, like LastPass or 1Password, to help you create and store unique, strong passwords for all your online accounts.
Regardless of keeping your system updated and setting strong passwords, if you fall victim to phishing your computer and online identity can still be compromised. Read our blog on how to avoid phishing scams to learn how to protect yourself online.