Personal Finance and Online Security

The Power of Minimalism

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The power of minimalism is by far one of the best tips and habits to adhere to when you wish to seek stronger online security. The less you download and use online, the less likely you are to be hacked or have your data stolen. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of minimalism, it’s quite a simple concept: you try and live your life with the fewest items possible. It was popularised by The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, in their infamous book Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life. I cannot recommend this book enough – it will change the way you live your life.

This article takes this idea of minimalism and directs it towards your local digital life to try and make it as clean as possible. This will involve deleting unused applications, programs, and files. 

What does local mean?

Simply, local means the files and programs you have downloaded onto your physical hard drives, phones, and other personal devices. A solid rule-of-thumb is the more services you download and use, the higher chance of a security exploit or data breach.

The Power of Minimalism

The majority of the population now own and use a smartphone. Let’s assume you have downloaded the Facebook app from the App or Play store. Once installed and set up, the Facebook app can now read all your contacts, your SMS messages sent outside the app, and it can view your phone calls. Then, let’s say you download Instagram, and upon setting up, the app now also has access to your contacts, SMS, and calls. 

You have doubled the chances your information will be leaked. 

Likewise, the more devices you leave installed on your computer increases the more chances of exploits or having your data harvested by a company, extending your digital footprint!

You should brag at how few applications you have on your phone!

Think about decluttering

You might not be aware of the term bloatware but it is defined as “unwanted software included on a new computer or mobile device by the manufacturer”. 

You’ve probably created an ‘extra’ folder and filled it with all the unused apps that Apple (or others) have filled the device with. These take up valuable system resources and are more often than not detrimental to your private security.

app--extras-folder-iPhone
The power of minimalism. Remove these unwanted ‘Extras’ folder.

Reinstall the operating system

If and when you get a new device, I recommend reinstalling the operating system to remove as much bloatware as possible. 

If the operating system itself contains bloatware, such as Windows, then you will need to manually uninstall as much as you can! Please note, deleting an application’s icon from your computer desktop is not uninstalling. You need to do this through the Windows Control Panel!

Next, delete all the applications you have not used in the past month! You don’t need them if you haven’t used them! They’re just taking up space and are potential data exploits if somebody unwanted hacks into them.

Personal files

Okay, so we’ve discussed removing and uninstalling any unused applications and programs, but what about personal files?

It’s obvious to say that if somebody can access your device, then they will be able to view/share/download any of the documents, photos, etc, that you have stored on there. 

Therefore, think carefully about the photos you take and store on your phone or computer. Also, on your phone, I would advise deleting your SMS messages and call log and history frequently.

We spoke earlier about how antiviruses are not good for privacy as they need to scan every file and document. If you missed this, read it here. Therefore, the less you give them, the better!

Of course, there are going to be photos and sensitive data that you cannot and/or do not want to delete. Therefore, you should save these onto secure external hard drives or memory sticks. 

Conclusion

We’ve discussed how to utilise the power of minimalism to improve your local digital footprint. Here, local refers to all the files and programs you’ve downloaded onto your hard drives and/or mobile phones, etc. It’s important to declutter! Not only will you improve your storage but you also reduce your chances of having your data exploited.

We also spoke about the term bloatware. Remember, bloatware is all the unnecessary files and programs that are pre-installed on a new device. Remove these by either reinstalling the operating system or manually uninstalling as much as possible.

Consider deleting your SMS messages and call history and logs frequently. This is to prevent anyone from gaining access if your phone is stolen or hacked. For any photos and files, you wish to keep, then consider transferring these to a secure external hard drive, especially an encrypted one (we’ll cover this in another article).

Thank you for reading this far, and I hope you enjoyed it. Please, leave your thoughts and comments.

-PocketPound

Featured image: Tyler Lastovich on unsplash

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