email

3 quick and easy ways to declutter your digital life

Unless you're living under a rock, you’re probably aware of dozens of recent data breaches involving huge — and therefore implicitly trusted — companies (*cough* Facebook) where your sensitive information was mishandled and put at risk. 

Privacy is a major issue these days, and the best way to prevent your data from being exposed in a breach is to start small, at home. 

1) Let’s get physical

Clean the digital clutter from your space. We hope you don’t leave sensitive data lying around in your home or workplace, but data that could be compromised in a physical breach could include anything on your computer or phone — think old PDFs containing medical information saved to your desktop, photos on your phone of your driver’s licence or passport — that you'd be better off trashing or saving to a more secure cloud service.   
 
Put yourself in a criminal’s mindset: if you were looking to commit fraud and you stole someone’s laptop or smartphone, what would you look for first? That’s the kind of info you should be deleting or securing.  

2) Delete old, out-of-use email accounts

Why are you hanging onto that embarrassing email address from high school? Unless you believe cutieblond91@hotmail.com could serve you in adult life, it’s best to give it the boot, because email accounts — even dated ones — are a hacker’s goldmine. Through an email, someone could gain access to almost any other piece of info about you — everything from logins to other accounts, to passwords, financial data, the information of all your contacts, your mother’s maiden name and the make of your first car.  
 
Before deleting an email account, go through it and download any data you may want, and double-check to make sure there are no other services you use currently that are still connected with the old email, like Spotify, PC points, you credit card, Netflix, et cetera. Search out any subject lines associated with account creation, go into the security settings and check for any third-party apps with account access. 
 
If you don’t want to get rid of the email altogether, you should at the very least change its password to be long and strong.  

3) Get rid of app accounts you don’t need anymore

Remember when you downloaded Runkeeper last January and used it to track your one New Year’s resolution workout? Well, it really doesn’t need to be on your phone if it’s not in regular use. Apps like this track far more than calories burned — they also track your location (among many other prized informational nuggets), even when turned off.  
 
Companies store data they’re given long after you delete their apps, so going forward, don’t download apps or create accounts online for no reason. The more of your data that’s out there, the tougher it is to manage. 

Decluttering digitally is about being proactive with your privacy — it's about paring down the amount of your personal data available to only what you need and use, so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 

To get the right information at the right time, contact the Beauceron Security Team @ info@beauceronsecurity.com or 1-877-516-9245. 

 

Have you been pwned?

If you’ve ever wondered how exposed you are to hacking or how vulnerable your online presence might be, now you can find out in a matter of seconds.  

Here’s what you do: go to the site haveibeenpwned.com and input your email address. Hit enter. Moments later you’ll get either an all-clear saying “Good news – no pwnage found!” or an “Oh no – pwned!” message letting you know how many breached sites that email address has appeared on.  

More spam, more attacks

“Pwn” is an old gaming slang term derived from the verb “own.” According to the Wikipedia page, “pwn” “implies domination or humiliation of a rival, primarily in the internet-based video game culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g., ‘You just got pwned!’).” 

Troy Hunt, a respected security researcher, created the website, which lets you check whether your email and/or passwords have been compromised, and which sites your information was leaked from.   

If you have appeared in any breaches, you will inevitably be getting more spam, and even targeted criminal attacks against you. It’s a good idea to check your work email and personal email against this cool tool to see how exposed you are.  

Hunt’s password service also allows you to securely check whether your passwords are in one of these data breaches. He has compiled a data set of 551 million passwords, and if you use passwords that appear here, you should change them immediately! 

How can you secure yourself?

The site suggests three steps to better security.  

1) Protect yourself using 1Password (or another reputable password manager such as LastPass) to create and save strong passwords for each site you use. Don’t use built-in browser password storage; Google Chrome, for example, will often ask, “Do you wish to remember the password for the site?” But it’s better to use a third-party password manager. It’s more secure and more convenient.  

2) Enable two-factor authentication

3) Subscribe to notifications for any other breaches on haveibeenpwned. This will keep you in the loop and informed on the status of your accounts and passwords. 

Remember: while this site is not a catch-all fix to any vulnerabilities in your online identity, it is a useful tool that can go a long way in boosting your overall security.