Here at Tesonet we like to talk about cybersecurity. Our Information Security Expert already explained what cyberstalking is. And a few weeks ago, we shared a few tips on taking care of the digital data you’ve accumulated. Seems like there’s nothing left to say, right?
But, spoiler alert: protecting your data is a never-ending process. Just like the majority of the world, you’ve been online for years now. Creating accounts for free trials, new streaming services and god knows what else. In other words, you’ve been leaving your digital footprints for a long time and that’s an easy trail for hackers to follow. The more unused accounts you leave behind, the better target you are.
Luckily, not everything is lost. Yes, there isn’t one magic button you can click and wipe away all the data that there’s about you. But with a little bit of dedication, you can do a pretty good job yourself. So where do you begin?
Step 1: Start with the accounts you remember
It’s likely that you won’t remember all the stuff you’ve signed up for, but your email can help you out a lot. Yes, all those annoying email notifications you get from various services might be actually useful for the first time. So go to your inbox and sniff them out.
Some accounts stop sending you reminders after a while, but it doesn’t mean they’re done with you. They’re probably still keeping your information, so you need to think about them as well. How do you find these companies? Go to your inbox and search for “confirm your email”, “verify your email address” or “new account” to add more names to the list.
Step 2: Check your phone
Most of us have so many apps on our phones that we’ve forgotten what they do. But just because they’re hiding in your last screen, doesn’t mean they’re doing nothing. Many apps bypass restrictions and still collect your data even if you denied access to it. So the more unnecessary apps there are on your phone, the more information they’re getting from you. Here’s a guide to cancelling various iOS subscriptions that happened through Apple. And the same for all the Android users out there.
Step 3: Investigate the social and browsers
Email and phone are done, so time to head over to your social networks. Facebook, Twitter and Google are frequently used for logging in, so there’s a possibility they might be connected to various apps and services. You can check it here for Facebook, use this link for Twitter and click here for Google. However, disconnecting the apps and services isn’t the same as closing them down. If you disconnect them, they just won’t be able to get to your accounts as easily. You’ll still need to go and find a proper way of closing them down completely.
Once you’re done with social networks, check the web browser or a password manager you’re using to manage your login information. You should find a few more apps and services to add to your list that you may want to completely shut down.
Step 4: Take action
So now you probably have a pretty decent list of apps and services that are tracking you. And that you want to shut down. But just removing the app from your phone isn’t enough – there are a few more things that you should do.
Of course, to stop those accounts from accessing your data, you need to access them first. Since we’re talking about really old ones, you might not remember all your login info. So you’ll need to start by resetting the passwords to get to your account. When you’re in there, you might want to find a data backup or export option to see what is stored about you and move it somewhere else. This step isn’t mandatory, but hey, aren’t you curious to see what they gathered about you?
Ok, so now when you’re done with stalking yourself, you can go on to actually shutting down the accounts. Every app and service might have a different process of doing that. With some, you could find the option to delete everything fairly easily, others might require going for a quick search online. JustDeleteMe has instructions for deleting most of the apps and services.
Don’t forget to carefully read whatever information popups when you’re doing that. You might need to go through some additional steps to ensure that the company is really deleting all the information about you. So we recommend not skimming through and doing everything carefully.
Step 5: Avoid repeating the same mistakes
Yay, you’re done! Until you accumulate the next batch of unused accounts, right? So our last tip for the future – be a bit more critical about the apps and services you sign up for. Read their T&Cs, don’t blindly agree to everything that pops up and you might be good.