Cleaning Your Downloads Folder

May 8, 2024 by
Mark Nash

Modern computers and smart devices have more storage space than ever before, and more than many people know what to do with. However, this blessing can also be a curse if you are not careful. When you don't have to worry about running out of space, you also don't have to worry about cleaning up your old data, but that is a critical mistake. The more data that is on your devices, the more that hackers can steal if they ever breach your device, and it only takes one mistake for a hacker to gain access. This problem tends to be much more prevalent in the downloads folder.

Dangers in the Downloads Folder

We download all sorts of things off the internet, and many of those files we only need to use once, and then they simply sit forgotten in the downloads folder. Those forgotten files may not be a big deal if they are things like music, movies, or games, but many can hold sensitive data, especially in a business environment. Things like old tax documents, PDFs of contracts, and Excel documents full of PII (Personal Identifiable Information) can often be found in peoples' downloads folders. And it is those types of files that pose a severe risk to cybersecurity, holding the potential to drastically increase the severity of a data breach. The danger those forgotten files present is growing as the cybersecurity landscape changes; as the number of people paying ransomware ransoms decreases, hackers are relying more on the threat of data leaks to coerce victims into paying increasingly exorbitant ransoms. So, if you have a whole load of PII sitting in your downloads folder and a hacker breaches your device, they can easily steal all that data and threaten to leak it if you don't pay. 

Cleaning Up Digital Liabilities

So, now we know that we need to clean our downloads folder out; thankfully, that isn't hard. Clearing out your downloads folder can be as simple as opening the folder, selecting everything in it, and then pressing the delete key on your keyboard. Mind you, that method won't work for everyone, but even if you need to keep a hold of some important documents in your downloads folder, that's not an excuse for allowing other sensitive yet unnecessary data to remain as a potential timebomb. Any documents that you intend to hold on to for an extended time should be moved out of your downloads folder and properly encrypted. 

Protecting Through Encryption

While the downloads folder often stores an excess of sensitive data, keeping it clean doesn't automatically make the rest of your data magically protected. To keep your data much safer, regardless of where it's stored on your device, you need to encrypt it. Thankfully, we can help you get all of your files encrypted with our latest tool, Actifile. Actifile is a cybersecurity tool that encrypts your data by the file instead of the drive. The distinction is important as it means that each file has its own encryption, so even if a hacker were able to steal them off your network, they still wouldn't be able to read them unless they managed to break the encryption, which they would have to do for each file. Meanwhile, if only your drive is encrypted, but a hacker manages to breach that encryption, they have full access to all the files you have stored on that drive. Good data encryption is a critical component of modern cybersecurity, and we can help you achieve that and more. 

If you are interested in protecting your data through secure file encryption, reach out to us and get set up with Actifile. Or better yet, let us help you achieve total IT harmony through our Harmony managed services. We can help you create a comprehensive cybersecurity solution for your business, establish business continuity, mobilize your workforce to enable them to work remotely, and more.