Spring Cleaning in the Time of Remote Work
March 23, 2020 at 4:00 AM
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Ok, I admit, I missed it! What you ask? Well, the first day of Spring! I was too focused on what is going on in the world, and the concerns we are facing together with Covid-19.

However, Spring is a wonderful time to re-energize. Energy requires action. Taking the first step is the hardest thing to do. I started a few days back. It’s good for helping with personal and business digital hygiene, and complements the physical hygiene and social distancing that we now all practice.

So what should we be doing? Well here are some things to work on. What about you?

Clean Up Password Manager

Why is this first? Well, it is an excellent tool for eliminating applications that are no longer being used. This will lower clutter and your digital footprint (i.e. unnecessary visibility). Cancel the accounts that are no longer in use. Your past should not be used against you. Focus on what you need today and tomorrow. Also rethink log-in information (user name, email credentials, and passwords). So for example, if you look at the password manager and your log in is your last name and your street address, get rid of those. PS – If you do not have a password manager, get one.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Turn on Multi-factor authentication. Make sure that your accounts use multi-factor authentication. When you use an authentication app for this, such as Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Authy Free OTP, or others. If you have a text option, do not chose that, but go with the authenticator, it is a safer option.

Files, Emails, and Folders

Clean your Files, emails and folders. Files, emails and folders are all around us. As humans, we accumulate our possessions. This is true in the digital world as in the physical. 100 years ago, spring cleaning was to get rid of items we may have accumulated that we no longer need. In today’s digital world; files, emails and folders that are systems of record that have accumulated are similarly are unorganized, or no longer useful. Over time, just like any system of record, they need to be organized, cleaned out, or archived. Less is more!

Some people keep emails as they are an efficient record keeping mechanism. Others deplore and delete daily. Well for those who keep emails this is the right time to either reduce unneeded “records” and/or save to content management systems (OneNote for example or folders; local or online that you can find with Box, Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft).

Backups

Back up your data. We all have been a victim here in the past of bad backups (or sometimes not having any backups). I suggest what everyone else suggests which is keep 3 copies of your data. But make sure it is on site and offsite. Please encrypt it, and I would go a step further and even suggest to FIPS 140-2. On a workstation, for example, you can set this up through Bitlocker if you are on a Microsoft Windows environment. Do it frequently (you can determine if that is daily, weekly, or some other period; it will depend on the data you are protecting).

Reconfiguring The Home Network

This year you may want to consider ethernet and a business grade firewall. Look, I know, you are thinking, well it is just “my home”. Exactly, your home is your castle. Make the investment into cabling (if you can) and a firewall that you can configure. The recommendation is for a business grade firewalls. There are many vendors that provide Small and Medium Business (SMB) firewalls such as Cisco, Fortigate, Sonicwall and others. It is time to block the countries with kings making the $1 million dollar offers. They do not need your money or identity.

Software and Hardware Updates

Make sure that your software as well as hardware is up to date and includes the latest releases and patches. Your vendors, such as Microsoft and Adobe, and hundreds more are regularly sending out updates. Get them and use them. Set up a plan for this week and next to see that your software and hardware has the most current updates. This is your baseline. I would recommend checking back often to make sure they are still updating (e.g. monthly, or if you hear of an emerging threat, do it right away).

More Tips

There is more to be done. We will be publishing a remote work guide as our next post.