Have You Done Your Digital Spring Cleaning?
It seems Spring cleaning is all the rage lately. From a popular Netflix show that encourages ruthlessly discarding anything that isn’t joy-inducing—to my memories of being forced to clean out that corner of the closet I never touched—it seems it’s time to tidy. I wonder, though, how many of us take the time to consider cleaning up our digital lives and our infrastructure.
Here are several practical ways to tidy up our digital lives and ways to suggest your users do the same during this season:
1. Clean up your passwords. The reality is so many of our “hacks” aren’t really hacks, per se, they’re compromises. Users routinely use passwords that do not conform to a minimal security requirement and/or use previously-compromised passwords. One quick way to help this is to install the Password Checker extension that Google recently released. Any time a user enters a password it checks it through the Have I Been Pwned directory and notifies the user that the password is known and compromised.
Another way to help ensure password security and begin your tidying process is the use of a password manager like Lastpass. Lastpass securely stores passwords and, more importantly, can run a security check. I regularly let Lastpass check the security of the passwords I’ve stored and change any that need strengthening.
2. Physical cleaning. Our devices, access points, switches, servers, etc need a good cleaning once in a while. This is a great time to give each of these areas a good cleaning. In some areas, the air conditioning is beginning to be used, and allergens are everywhere. Those particles get into the fans cooling all of our systems, so this is a great time to clean those. Of note, I am typically very reticent to use canned air or any sort of compressed air, because that often pushes dirt, particulates, and dust further inside the device. I prefer to gently vacuum with anti-static attachments to remove the issues rather than possibly contribute to the problem.
3. Audit your policies and update kernels. Network infrastructure is not a “set it and forget it” system, so we need to take some time to ensure we’re up to date. Check to make sure you have the most appropriate updates, whether policy, kernel, or software for your relevant systems. It’s not uncommon for firewalls to have noteworthy security holes that have been patched but that patch has not been applied. At this point in the year, I like to audit network policies as well. It’s a great time to review everything from SSID usage, QoS, and security.
However you handle your spring cleaning, don’t neglect the infrastructure pieces that may most critically need your attention.
Dr. Christopher Craft is an award-winning educator and speaker based in South Carolina and the Executive Director of Innovation for EdTechTeam. As a classroom teacher, he has been recognized both locally and nationally for innovative teaching with technology. Most recently he won the Belk Service Learning Challenge Grand Prize for his work with 3D-printed prosthetics for children. Dr. Craft was also asked to visit the White House and meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Dr. Jill Biden for a dialogue on the current state and future of education. He was named to the National School Board Association’s “20 to Watch” and one of the prestigious “20 under 40” in South Carolina. He has a B.A. in Spanish, a M.Ed in Educational Technology, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of South Carolina, and is Nationally Board Certified. Chris is a Google Certified Innovator, a Google in Education Trainer, and was recently accepted to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. Find out more about Dr. Craft at www.christophercraft.com or follow him on Twitter @crafty184.