Better Business Bureau Recommends A ‘Digital’ Spring Cleaning

Better Business Bureau Recommends A ‘Digital’ Spring Cleaning

By Michele Mason – 4-7-23

The weather is warming up, inspiring people to clean up or clear the clutter. An important area many overlook isn’t the corner of a room or a forgotten closet; it’s digital devices — including the one you’re likely using to read this article.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance and Better Business Bureau remind everyone that when clearing out the physical clutter, there’s probably an abundance of digital data clutter that needs to be cleaned out as well.

If you have a few extra hours or minutes in your day, it may be a good time to give yourself a digital makeover. Taking simple, proactive steps will go a long way in safeguarding against potentially disruptive issues — like identity theft, loss of funds or credit card fraud — that can cause mayhem by compromising your data. Take the time to practice a few precautionary measures, and you will have greater peace of mind — not only this spring, but all year round.

The cybersecurity alliance and Better Business Bureau encourage people to check their smartphones, laptops and tablets and take a few minutes to review these tips.

› Lock down your login: Security is critical to protecting accounts used for work and home. Ensure passphrases for each account are lengthy, unique and safely stored. Enable two-factor authentication on all accounts that offer it.

› Update your system and software: Avoid procrastination. Ensuring you have the most current software, web browsers and operating systems installed on your devices provides some of the easiest and fastest ways to protect your most sensitive assets.

› Back it up: Protect your personal and workplace data by making electronic copies — or backups — of your most important files. Use the three, two, one rule to help guide you: three backup copies, two different media types and one offline in a separate location.

› Clean up your online presence: When did you last use all the apps on your phone or tablet? Do you know the settings on all social media accounts that check in with friends and family? Check up on all your accounts. Then, control your role by ensuring you know who has administrative access to your accounts. Keep all your passwords private.

› Be careful what you share: Quizzes on social media are fun, and keeping in touch is necessary. However, questions on social media might give away too much information about you, your location or your family.

In addition to following the above-listed tips, small business owners are highly encouraged to take time to establish, update and communicate policies and procedures around topics like record retention.

It is also imperative that a cybersecurity strategy is in place and used by all employees. The Better Business Bureau offers tips on, including how to avoid online scams when working from home. If you find that you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can visit for a customized recovery plan.

The bureau will be hosting a free bi-annual event known as “Shred Day” on April 15 to offer safe disposal of important documents, unneeded hard drives, disks and other related electronics.

The event is held in partnership with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, River City Shredding, Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security and the Hamilton County Coalition.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to noon in Coca Cola Bottling Co.’s parking lot at 2111 W. Shepherd Road in Chattanooga, which is just off exit 1A (Airport exit) from Highway 153. Shredding will end earlier if trucks fill up.

This is also a wonderful opportunity for residents to have electronics recycled and outdated or unneeded prescription drugs dropped off for safe disposal. Please limit documents to three large trash bags of documents per person. For more information, visit or call bureau at 423-266-6144.

Before participating in Shred Day, you can take steps to prepare your data and devices:

› Know what devices to digitally “shred”: Computers and mobile phones aren’t the only devices that capture and store sensitive, personal data. External hard drives and USBs, tape drives, embedded flash memory, wearables, networking equipment and office tools like copiers, printers and fax machines all contain valuable personal information and stored images. These can be brought to the event for destruction and/or safe recycling.

› Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices, and be sure to wipe and overwrite: Simply deleting and emptying the trash isn’t enough to eliminate a file. You must permanently delete old files. Use a program that deletes the data, “wipes” it from your device, and then overwrites it by putting random data in place of your information — which cannot be retrieved.

› Clear out stockpiles: If you have a stash of old hard drives or other devices — even in a locked storage area — information still exists and could be stolen. You can bring those to the event for immediate destruction.

Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.


error: Content is protected !!