Summer Cyber-Secure Challenge: The Great Cleanout

This is part seven of the Summer Cyber Secure Challenge.  Here are links to the previous challenges:

  1. App Delete
  2. Social Connection Review
  3. Online Safety for Family
  4. Manage Your Passwords
  5. Home Internet
  6. Put Another Login Step On It

If you’ve been an internet user for any length of time, it’s likely you have these: Long-forgotten or neglected accounts. We all have these. They are the accounts of services, apps, retailers, etc. that are no longer actively used, but communications are still being delivered to your inbox. The Great Cleanout is similar to our first challenge where unused apps were deleted. However, this challenge takes it one step further by shutting down these unused accounts and unsubscribing to notifications.

The great cleanout

Find the Accounts

To find these long-forgotten accounts, check your recent email history. When you come across a service you no longer use, follow these steps to close it down.

  1. Reset your password (if necessary).
  2. Log in to the service and look for an account option to close/shut down/delete your account.
  3. If the services offers the option to delete your data, definitely consider doing so (more below on that).
  4. Finally, unsubscribe from all future emails.

Data Deletion

Thanks to a recently enacted European data privacy law (General Data Protection Regulation), many online services are required to allow consumers, European or not, to download a copy of the data collected about them AND have a mechanism for deleting that data upon the user’s request. Facebook implemented this feature a while back. If you’re sure you will never use the service again, request that they delete your data. This way, a future data breach of the service won’t impact your information because it’s no longer stored by the service.


Even after shutting down your account with an online service, you may still receive their marketing emails. All marketing emails are required by law to include a mechanism to unsubscribe. Your email app may even put a link at the top of the email so you don’t have to find it in the message. Use these links to unsubscribe from their marketing lists.

The Why

Aside from cluttering up your inbox, there’s a cyber safety reason to clean out long-forgotten accounts. Data breaches are occurring and coming to light all the time. Leaving personal information out there (email, address, phone number, etc.) may leave you vulnerable to spam or more nefarious communications. Even more dangerous, if you reused this login and password combination elsewhere, a breach of one of these services could jeopardize multiple accounts.

Your challenge is to clean out as many long-forgotten or neglected accounts as possible!

This ends our Summer Cyber Secure Challenge for 2019, although we will have a bonus challenge for kids next week, so stay tuned.

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