Given the recent events in Nigeria involving the unauthorised leakage of nudes and photographic images, everyone must take careful measures when managing their digital files, JUSTICE OKAMGBA writes

Whether these files are intentionally shared online or exposed due to various circumstances, the reality is that they can have serious repercussions on individuals.

The past decade has seen a profound transformation in how we use smartphones. They have evolved into indispensable digital companions that store and manage critical aspects of our lives, from work-related documents and emails to cherished personal memories in the form of photos and messages.

There are several advantages to this approach, including the convenience of having all essential information readily available, ensuring data security and privacy, and eliminating the need to carry cumbersome stacks of paper documents.

Importantly, adeptly managing digital files on your smartphone could also serve as a linchpin for maintaining productivity. The lists are endless.

With smartphones, it’s indeed easy to access files from anywhere and at any time, but it’s also important to manage digital files effectively to prevent data loss or unauthorised access.

There are also recorded cases of blackmail or extortion attempts by malicious individuals who have unauthorised access to your digital files.

Some of the experts who spoke to The PUNCH suggested some tips.

File Management Apps

Streamline your digital life with file management apps like ‘Files by Google’ for Android or ‘Files’ for iOS. These apps offer features such as duplicate file detection and junk file cleaning.

A Cybersecurity Analyst at SAP, Chukwuka Madumere says, “Arrange your documents into dedicated folders within the application.  “This organizational step will simplify the process of finding them when required and reduce the likelihood of confusion.”

Discard Unnecessary Apps

Regularly review your app usage and remove redundant applications to eliminate cache and temporary files that accumulate over time, freeing up valuable storage space.

To safeguard the data residing within our smartphones, embracing a robust backup strategy is pivotal. It not only shields against data loss but also ensures the continuity of our digital lives.

He said, “Delete unnecessary files by regularly reviewing and deleting files you no longer need to declutter and free up storage.”

Further, the cybersecurity analyst also warned that smartphone users should avoid sideloading apps, and exclusively obtain applications from reputable sources like the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

According to him, this precautionary approach minimises the risk of inadvertently installing malicious software on your device.

In the same vein, the National Information Technology Development Agency periodically alerts smartphone owners to the increasing risks of data breaches through mobile applications downloaded on phones.

The Agency advises that it has become more worrisome as research has revealed that large numbers of mobile health applications are found to encourage data theft, thereby infringing on your privacy.

“Ensure apps available for download in Nigeria should have a privacy policy that is Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR)-compliant,” NITDA started.

Secure Data Backup

An ardent Android enthusiast, Emeka Orji shares his decade-long ability to preserve every digital file, even while transitioning between different smartphone brands.

“I still have photos from 2013 on my phone, despite changing phones multiple times,” says Orji.

“I can access any of my digital files from anywhere, it doesn’t matter the phone I am using. All I need is to know my email address and password.”

Nevertheless, Orji acknowledges the fragility of technology renders these compact devices susceptible to data loss, whether due to hardware failures, accidental deletions, or malware attacks – an emotionally draining experience.

Harness Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is the contemporary solution for safeguarding your data. Leading the pack are services like Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox, offering seamless and automatic data synchronization to the cloud.

Experts at Google explained in a blog post that cloud storage uses remote servers to save data, such as files, business data, videos, or images.

“Users upload data to servers via an internet connection, where it is saved on a virtual machine on a physical server. To maintain availability and provide redundancy, cloud providers will often spread data to multiple virtual machines in data centers located across the world,” the blog post reads.

Similarly, Madumere advises safeguarding digital files by transferring them to cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox, providing remote access, and relieving the burden on your local storage, all while ensuring data security.

Periodic Decluttering

Digital Marketing Specialist, Joel Ozue in response to questions from our correspondent, highlighted the prevalent issue of smartphones transforming into “digital dumping grounds.”

Ozue suggests dedicating a few minutes each week to declutter your smartphone by deleting unnecessary photos, old messages, and unused apps. “This practice not only frees up storage but also enhances efficiency.”

Ozue underscores the importance of clearing cached data, as it bolsters your device’s performance and responsiveness.

Moreover, “cloud backups are lauded for their convenience, ensuring data security and accessibility via remote servers. Automatic synchronization keeps your backup up-to-date effortlessly,” he said.

Local Backup

Further, Madumere advocates for local backups, offering greater control over your data. Local backups prove invaluable when you need to maintain independence from the internet or when switching devices.

“Establish a routine for backing up your files to external hard drives or reliable cloud-based services.”

Madumere, emphasises the significance of robust passwords for both smartphone access and document storage applications, emphasising the need to avoid sharing these passwords to safeguard your data from unauthorized access.

Password

Passwords are essential when it comes to managing your digital files. For it to be easy, you can have a password manager that offers convenience and, more importantly, helps you create better passwords.

Last year, Kaspersky, a global cyber-security and digital privacy company, discovered that the number of Trojan-PSW (Password Stealing Ware) detections in Nigeria surged by as much as 147 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 when compared with the same period of 2021.

Trojan-PSW, a malware that steals passwords along with other account information, enables attackers to gain access to the corporate network and steal sensitive information.

However, Madumere said, “Ensuring that you maintain robust passwords for accessing both your smartphone and the document storage application is crucial.

“You also need to refrain from sharing these passwords with anyone else to safeguard your information from unauthorized access and maintain its security,” he said.

Summary

In summary, effective smartphone data management necessitates regular app cleanups, secure backups, judicious utilisation of cloud storage, device decluttering, and consideration of local backups or third-party apps when appropriate.

By adhering to these practices, you can ensure your smartphone functions seamlessly while safeguarding your invaluable digital life.

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