Digital Hygiene 101: Keeping your digital clutter at bay in 2022

Digital Hygiene 101: Keeping your digital clutter at bay in 2022

Categories: Special Promotions & Campaigns|Published On: April 29, 2022|5 min read|
About the Author

Syazana Khan

A communications specialist and technology wordsmith with over 2 years experience in the IT and professional development training arena.


Digital Hygiene 101


We have all heard of the benefits and importance of spring cleaning your home, your car, and your office desk space, however, these are all physical spaces, have you given a thought to cleaning up your virtual space? Yes, you heard that right, keeping your digital space in order is just as important as its physical counterpart.  

It goes without saying that the lines between our digital and physical realm are blurrier than ever. This was particularly apparent during the various pandemic induced lockdown phases that we prevailed through in the last two years. So much of our work and lives revolved around technology with a doubling of our usual screen time. The most obvious advantage of embracing good digital hygiene has to be improving your mental health but another important benefit is protecting yourself, your people and your data from cyber threats.  


Digital Hygiene? The Who, What, Why, Where, When and How. 

As with most things, let’s take a deeper look at what Digital Hygiene is first.  

Digital hygiene is the catch-all term for the practices and behaviours related to cleaning up and maintaining your digital world. You might hear this being called cyber hygiene or internet hygiene—these all really mean the same thing. 

This includes everything from organizing the files on your computer, to locking down your social media accounts, to introducing new apps or technologies to make your digital life easier or more secure.” – CIRA 

Digital hygiene as a term was first introduced to the world by Dr Eduardo Gelbstein in 2006 when he published the bookGood Digital Hygiene”. The book draws on his experience in both the public and private sectors to explore how users can create an environment that best protects their data and devices. Although the concept has been around for as long as computers have been able to connect to one another. Of course, what constitutes good digital hygiene evolves just as the technology we use to connect between computers does.  

To summarise, Digital Hygiene is essentially a set of practices and/or behaviours that we could adopt and implement to ascertain and maintain a healthy and secure digital ecosystem. Like with every other daily hygiene activity, maintaining good digital hygiene will involve investing in products and tools that fit our hygiene needs, performing these hygienic tasks correctly, and establishing a routine around them. 

Some of the best practices in digital hygiene include maintaining, cleaning and updating your electronic devices – a lot of the updates tend to include patches to fix bugs in the software, which could compromise your data. Others include using strong passwords that follow the given security protocols, organizing the files that you store on your devices, consistently optimizing the settings on your gadget and more. These are some sure-fire ways to ensure that your devices remain an asset rather than a liability.

If you are a technologist, here are some common questions thrown around that might just make you cringe. Have you (tactfully, of course) urged your colleagues to take care of their digital hygiene, only to find that users up and down the organization still refuse to use commonsense practices in their day-to-day activities? Are they connecting to unknown Wi-Fi hotspots? Are they downloading unvetted applications? Are they clicking links in emails from unknown or suspicious senders? 



How will you benefit from digital hygiene? 

Digital hygiene encourages individuals to perform routine-based digital practices in order to minimize cyber risks.  

Having a routine cyber hygiene procedure in place for your computers and software is beneficial for two distinct reasons – maintenance and security. 

Maintenance is necessary for computers and software to run at peak efficiency. Files become fragmented and programs become outdated, increasing the risk of vulnerabilities. Routines that include maintenance are likely to spot many of these issues early and prevent serious issues from occurring. A system that is well-maintained is less likely to be vulnerable to cybersecurity risks.  


Here are some of the most effective ways you can practise good digital hygiene  

  • Use strong passwords 
  • Use a password manager 
  • Using multi-factor authentication 
  • Backing up data regularly 
  • Keeping apps, software, and firmware up to date 
  • Delete unused software 
  • Use safe browsers 


Make digital hygiene your routine.

Adhering to these digital hygiene tips may not be everyone’s cup of tea and if you are going through the processes for the first time, it might seem extremely tedious, and a mammoth task but trust us when we tell you that the time spent will be paid off when it becomes a habit and you avoid falling prey to detrimental cyber attacks.

In a similar scenario with just about any ‘new year’s resolution,’ the trick of the trade is to incorporate digital hygiene as part of your daily ritual, forming a habit out of it. When you can unsubscribe from promotional emails you don’t need, clear your computer from files that you might not need, and spend some time backing up important documents onto the cloud or onto a hard disk.

To ensure you don’t forget to do these on a monthly or bi-weekly basis, you could set reminders or you can go the extra mile by getting a fancy habit tracking app, after all, it is said that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Cleaning after your digital as you go can eventually save you time and keep you safeguarded against threats.

An important aspect that people tend to forget about cyberattacks is how costly they could potentially become. Similarly, large corporations with huge databases and tons of personal information stored are also at risk of losing their customer’s trust and faith in the business and/or organization.

By lowering the risk that hackers will take advantage of security gaps, cyber hygiene helps: 

  • Safeguard your business’s data and client information 
  • Ensure your devices and computers running well 
  • Secure against ransomware and malware 
  • Avoid phishing attempts and other malicious activities 
  • Identify and fix outdated admin privileges from former employees, etc. 
  • Locate unmanaged assets 
  • Finding unauthorized software on a system 


Of course, cybersecurity is an important element incorporated within the infrastructure of most technologies, but it is important to be aware that cybersecurity tools on their own are not sufficient protection against today’s many threats. However, practising and embracing good digital hygiene, with the backing of the right tools and security protocols for the specific needs of your organization could be the game change and an effective first line of defence against any unwarranted attacks that may cost you and your organization.





About the Author

Syazana Khan

A communications specialist and technology wordsmith with over 2 years experience in the IT and professional development training arena.