Improve Your Digital Safety

Improve Your Digital Safety

12/01/2019 | Archive

Now is the right time to remove old apps that make your devices vulnerable to attack.

Curious by nature, us Internet users have turned into digital hoarders, installing apps and all kinds of software that would make our work easier, faster or our lives more fun. And, just like an uncleaned fridge may start to smell at some point, some of these apps can go bad as well. Not in the sense that they'll turn into weapons of cyber-attack overnight, but in the way that they'll become vulnerable to attack.

A blog post from Heimdal Security warns that cyber criminals frequently and automatically scan websites and PCs with different types of malware to see if there are any vulnerabilities they can use to penetrate that website or system. And they find these backdoors a lot more often than you can imagine.

Using your social media account to log into an app or website can be easier than creating a new username and password. But, after a while, you can collect more apps and become registered on more websites than you really use.

According to an article by Lisa Lake, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission, when you use social media accounts to sign up for apps or websites, you may give the app or website permission to do things on your behalf, like post to your social media page. You're also possibly saying it's OK to access information like your name, birthdate, location, contacts, and even your messages. Over time, you may even forget which apps or sites have these permissions.

Risk can also come from applications you use more frequently, but don’t update when you should, such as browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.), browser plugins (Adobe Flash, Silverlight, screenshot tools, PDF readers, etc.) and other types of software (instant messaging apps, email apps, games, etc.).

There’s no time like the present to do this simple digital cleaning that can spare you many headaches down the road. The more organized your digital life is, the less backdoors cyber criminals can exploit. And remember that our lives are more dependent on our digital existence than we think.

Five Ways to help secure your information:
When signing up for an app or website, pay attention to what permissions it’s asking for. Ask yourself: “Why do they need this info?” If you’re not comfortable allowing access, select “deny“ or “disagree” when you see the message asking for permissions. This typically stops the registration process.

Make it even easier by setting a reminder on your calendar for at least every few months to check your permissions too.

Purge your permissions list. Review the settings options on your favorite social media sites and follow the instructions that lead you to the list of sites and apps to which you’re granting access. Follow the instructions that tell you how to remove those apps or sites, click on one at a time and select the option that allows you to remove it.

Uninstall unused apps. Get rid of any apps you no longer use on all of your devices. Not only will you improve your security, the free space may help your device run faster.

Check your browser plugins. Browser plugins are an insidious security threat. They seem completely harmless, but the truth is that they can hurt both your privacy and your security.

Automate software updates. Monitor and update your apps to make sure you always have the latest version.

Sources: Heimdal Security: Remove Software that Makes Your PC Vulnerable | Federal Trade Commission: How To Protect Your Privacy on Apps