Data Hygiene Best Practices

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Why is Data Hygiene Important?

With much of our lives now taking place in the digital real, data hygiene is as important as ever in maintaining a secure digital presence. We recommended that you regularly review and organise your personal data to ensure that it is accurate, up-to-date, and secure. One of the most important components of data hygiene is keeping your passwords updated. Read on as we discuss why data hygiene is so important and how you can improve your data hygiene to keep your online presence safe.

data hygiene, a phone locked with chains

What difference does it make?

Data hygiene is essential for maintaining a secure digital presence because it helps prevent you from getting caught in data breaches and protects your sensitive information, such as your address, payment info and more. When data is left unorganised, outdated and not secure, it can become vulnerable to cyberattacks such as phishing, malware, and ransomware. Many data breaches involve large amounts of data being compromised – so that account you setup on NeoPets back in 1997 and forgot about may still be sitting on a server somewhere! With the advent of GDPR, it’s easier than ever to request a copy or deletion of your data. If you’ve stopped using a service, make sure to keep track of what accounts you had and no longer need. That way, unless you have a specific reason, you can request that your account data is deleted. Otherwise your data risks being a sitting duck for attackers.

data hygiene, a hacker on a computer

Why is Keeping Passwords Up-to-Date Crucial?

Passwords are the first line of defence against cyberattacks, and keeping them up-to-date is crucial for maintaining a secure digital presence. Although there is a debate as to how often you should change passwords, credentials that are weak or outdated are more vulnerable to brute force attacks, where hackers use automated software to guess thousands of passwords until they find the correct one. Additionally, outdated passwords can lead to unauthorised access, data breaches, and other security incidents. Using the same password across services is also a big no-no, as if your password comes up in one breach, you’ve now compromised all your accounts, rather than just the one. If you struggle to maintain or remember multiple passwords, a password manager may be a good idea. Also, by regularly updating your passwords, you can reduce the risk of cyberattacks and protect sensitive information. Every 3 months or so is a good average to review your passwords and accounts. A great tool to use to check if your passwords have been compromised is haveibeenpwned.com.

data hygiene, a password input field

How Can You Improve Your Data Hygiene?

Improving your data hygiene can be as simple as change your password once every few months, or you can use multiple tools and regularly clean and organise your data. To keep yourself secure, follow these tips:

  1. Use a password manager: A password manager can help you generate strong, unique passwords and store them securely. Examples include LastPass.
  2. Change passwords regularly: Change your passwords every few months to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, or aim for a longer password that contains 3-4 random words.
  3. Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone. This is an easy win but makes a massive difference, by combining ‘something you know’ (password) and something you have’ (a mobile device with a code on). Projectfusion utilises 2FA when users log in.
  4. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts: Using the same password for multiple accounts increases the risk of a data breach. Use a different password for each service you use. A password manager is again a useful tool for managing these.
  5. Use aliases when signing up for services. Apple’s ‘Hide My Email’ and Mozilla’s Firefox Relay are just some of the tools that now let you use an alias when giving out your email address. By creating a temporary and randomised email, you can sign up to services with this temporary address, which will forward any correspondence to your main address. It has the benefit of allowing you to protect your email from data breaches!

In conclusion, data hygiene is crucial for maintaining a secure digital presence, and keeping passwords up-to-date is a critical component of data hygiene. By regularly updating your passwords and following best practices for data hygiene, you can reduce the risk of cyberattacks and protect sensitive information.

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