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Take Out the Digital Trash

Did you know, in 2021 an estimated 1.4 trillion photos were taken. That’s right, while the world was still partially locked down and events were cancelled we still managed to take 1.4 trillion photos!

When you add on the estimated 281 billion emails that whoosh around our planet every day, the daily 3.2 hours of Netflix that the average user consumes, and the 300 hours of video which are uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s not surprising that the internet and its supporting systems produce 900 million tons of CO2 each year.

Despite all the useful things technology has given us, digital devices have also given us a lot of digital trash. Unnecessary emails, files, apps, and photos & videos are all digital waste and add to our environmental impact. By “cleaning” our devices, and hopefully forging new digital habits, we can also reduce the risk of cyber threats such as identity theft or privacy breaches. Sounds like a win-win!

How can I forge more environmentally friendly digital habits?

To raise awareness about our collective environmental impact, and to sneak in a few security tips, the SEEKurity team are celebrating World Cyber Cleanup Day! World Cyber Cleanup Day is happening this Saturday the 19th of March and is a perfect excuse to refresh those digital habits.

Below the SEEKurity team are sharing three ways that you can reduce your digital impact without making too many drastic life changes.

1. Make your e-mails more e-fficient

We send and receive a lot of emails every day. However, a lot of times we leave these emails to accumulate in our inbox, miscellaneous folders, or in our sent box. Believe me, that’s a lot of clutter!

First things first, delete old emails. Search for common names, addresses, and words to round up similar emails so you can deal with them en masse. A good place to start is to delete copies of your passport or driver’s licence that you’ve attached to an email. This is really important in the event of a breach, as it limits the hacker’s ability to use your personal documents to engage in identity theft or fraud.

Next, stop that clutter happening in the first place. Hit unsubscribe from newsletters or content you don’t actively engage with. If you don’t want to unsubscribe all in one go, when the next newsletter comes in that you don’t read, instead of deleting it, hit unsubscribe.

2. Smarten up that smart phone

Clearing out old files from your smart phone is a great way to improve battery performance, extend the life of the device, and limit apps’ ability to track your information.

A great place to start is to remove all those applications you haven’t used in a while. If you haven’t used it since 2021, you probably won’t be using it any time soon either. Be brave and delete the app! That way, apps that you no longer actively use can’t access or sell your data by simply operating on your phone. Remember, some apps might be tracking your location even when the app is closed (if it’s been given permission)… so delete that data grabbing app!

Next, have a quick review of your camera roll. Your photos and memories are important. But maybe those random clips from a concert you attended 5 years ago, or 9 of those 10 duplicate photos where you and your friends are holding the same pose, can be deleted. Reviewing duplicate or unnecessary images can go a long way in clearing up space on your phone and extending the device’s life.

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

3. Power Clean your PC

Your computer probably houses a lot of files or programs you’ll never open or use again…Don’t believe me, look at the random things in your download folder or your recycling bin!

A super easy and quick step to cleaning up your digital waste is clearing out your recycling bin. Hitting delete will simply move those files to the recycling bin. That means, if you’ve deleted something which contains sensitive information it might still be sitting on your computer and easily found. Clear out your recycling bin so you can clear more space on your computer and properly delete those files!

If you’re in a deep clean mood, you can also choose an old folder and go through the contents. Try to delete files that might be duplicates or outdated versions that are no longer relevant… do you really need all those drafts or can you just keep the final version?

What if I miss World Cyber Cleanup Day?

Just start when you’re ready! World Cyber Cleanup Day is here to raise awareness, but any day is a great day to start considering your technological footprint. Start with a small change on one device to ingrain those habits or jump into deep clean mode and clean up everything in one go!

Remember, if it’s no longer needed, delete it. Delete it to reduce your CO2 footprint. Delete it to extend the life of your devices. Delete it to keep your personal information safe. And delete it to stop apps tracking your data. Win-Win-Win-Win!

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Kelsy Luengen

Kelsy Luengen

Security Influencer

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