Spring cleanup
by Chris Taylor

Spring cleanup

About Chris Taylor:  Chris is on the Community Review Board for SANS’s OUCH! (the security awareness newsletter designed for everyone), has given over 470 computer-related presentations at the Ottawa Public Library, and is President of the Ottawa PC Users’ Group.

Some look to spring as a time of review. I don’t think we should only review our computing environments that infrequently, but spring is good too! Here are some things I think are worthy of periodic review.

Don’t get compromised

Review your settings in GlassWire to make sure you are getting the best security from the program. I recommend setting the firewall to Ask to connect and in Settings > VirusTotal, check the boxes for Enable manual file analysis by VirusTotal and Automatically analyze all apps with network activity with VirusTotal.

Check that your operating system and programs have the latest security updates and all auto-update functions are working properly.

Check the settings in your anti-virus and make sure it is updated to the latest program and signature files. Run a full anti-virus scan of all storage devices on your computer. Double-check that your anti-virus is not missing anything by running a free on-demand virus scan from any number of major anti-virus vendors.

Get a vulnerability management program that can check all your installed programs for security patches.

Review your authentication to devices and services. Use unique, strong passwords for every service, multi-factor authentication, and a password manager. Review the answers to password-reset questions: use nonsensical answers and record them in your password manager.

Set the DNS on routers and other devices to use a DNS resolver such as Quad9 or OpenDNS that can block you from going to malicious sites.

Verify the security settings on your router and make sure it is running the latest firmware. Check to see what devices are connecting to your router.

Don’t lose your important data

Backups are one of the most important factors in making sure data is safe and secure. Image, real-time, and offsite backups are all important in ensuring you don’t lose data. Near real-time backup can be achieved for free with Windows’s built-in File History. For image backups, there are many free and paid programs. Be careful if choosing a cloud backup provider: the features, limitations and costs vary wildly!

Review your backup strategy to make sure all threats are covered. Test your backups: we don’t back up for backup’s sake, we back up so we can recover.

Make sure you have at least two accounts on your computer that have Administrator-level access to aid in recovery should your main account becomes corrupted.

Drop stuff you don’t need

Check your password manager for sites and services you no longer use and delete your accounts from those services. If a service is compromised, it may provide a foothold to an attacker.

Use the Windows tools Disk Clean-up and Storage Sense to get rid of dross clogging your drive and making your backups bigger than they need to be. There are also 3rd party tools available that can help you clean up your storage.

Uninstall programs that you no longer use. Not only do they use up space, but they also represent potential vulnerabilities.

If you are getting rid of old computing devices, make sure to sanitize them by securely erasing all personal information. If you can’t be sure data is unrecoverable, it might be best to destroy rather than discard.

Review all your online subscriptions. Get rid of those you don’t need. It can not only reduce your email load, but in the case of paid subscriptions, you can save money with any that are set to auto-renew.


Configure financial accounts so they send you alerts when a transaction is made or there is suspicious activity.

If you are a parent, review parental controls and settings on young’uns’ devices and accounts.

Review privacy settings on social media accounts. Don’t share more than you need to.

Tidy up email. Review your email filters and contacts. Check at to see if your email address has showed up in data breaches.

Tweak system performance. Task Manager’s Processes tab can help you track down programs hogging CPU cycles, memory, disk activity and Internet bandwidth. Use the Startup tab to disable auto-start for programs you really don’t need running all the time.

Ensure your online accounts can be handled by someone in the event of your incapacity or death.

Related previous articles I have written

“Public DNS Resolvers” (June 2018)

“Security – it’s all about layers” (July 2018)

“Outbound firewall protection” (September 2018)

“Protecting your passwords” (October 2018)

“Why backup?” (February 2019)

“Home wireless security” (April 2019)

“Passwords” (May 2019)

“Updating Your Operating System and Programs” (July 2019)

“Check your backups” (August 2019)

“File History” (December 2019)

“Attack surface” (March 2021)

“Password strength” (December 2021)

“Cleaning up your disk” (March 2022)

“Disabling automatic sign-in to Windows” (September 2022)

“Re-authentication when resuming” (October 2022)

“Re-authentication after inactivity” (November 2022)


Monitoring Data Usage: A Critical Aspect of Cybersecurity

monitor data

The use of technology in various aspects of life has increased dramatically in recent years. With the rise of the internet, the amount of data being transmitted and received has increased significantly. As a result, monitoring data usage has become a critical aspect of cybersecurity. In this article, we will discuss the importance of monitoring data usage in Windows and the potential risks associated with not doing so.

Why monitor data usage in Windows?

Windows is a widely used operating system and is present in many devices such as computers, laptops, and mobile phones. The amount of data that is transmitted and received through these devices is substantial, and it is crucial to monitor it to prevent potential security risks.

One of the primary reasons for monitoring data usage is to protect sensitive information. Sensitive information could include personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account details, and social security numbers. If this information is transmitted or received without proper encryption, it could be intercepted by unauthorized individuals and used for malicious purposes.

Another reason to monitor data usage is to detect malware. Malware is malicious software that is designed to cause harm to a device or network. It can be transmitted through infected email attachments, websites, or even advertisements. If malware is present on a device, it can cause a wide range of problems, including data theft, data corruption, and unauthorized access to the device or network.

The importance of monitoring data usage also lies in identifying network anomalies. Network anomalies refer to unexpected changes in the network traffic patterns. These changes can indicate the presence of malware or other malicious activities. For example, if there is a sudden increase in the amount of data being transmitted, it could indicate the presence of malware that is exfiltrating data from the device or network.

How to monitor data in Windows?

There are several ways to monitor data usage in Windows. One of the easiest ways is to use the built-in Task Manager. The Task Manager provides information on the amount of network data that is being transmitted and received. It also provides information on the process that is using the network, which can help in identifying potential security risks.

Another way to monitor data usage in Windows is to use third-party software. There are many software solutions available that can help in monitoring data usage. These solutions provide more detailed information on the amount of data being transmitted and received and can also provide alerts if there are any unusual changes in the network traffic patterns.

Another tool that can be used to monitor data usage in Windows is the Windows Resource Monitor. The Resource Monitor provides information on the amount of network data that is being transmitted and received and also provides information on the process that is using the network. It can also be used to identify potential security risks by displaying any processes that are using a large amount of network resources.

Possible scenarios in which monitoring data usage is important

There are several possible scenarios in which monitoring data usage is important. One scenario is when an employee is using a company device to access sensitive information. In this case, it is important to monitor the data usage to ensure that the sensitive information is being transmitted and received securely and to detect any potential security risks.

Another scenario is when a user is accessing a public Wi-Fi network. Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, which makes them a prime target for hackers. Monitoring data usage in this scenario is important to prevent potential security risks, such as the interception of sensitive information or the transmission of malware.

A third scenario is when a device is infected with malware. In this case, monitoring data usage is important to detect any unusual changes in the network traffic patterns, which could indicate the presence of malware.

GlassWire to monitor your data

GlassWire is a powerful and user-friendly tool that makes it easier to monitor data usage in Windows. With GlassWire, users can easily view the amount of data that is being transmitted and received, and can also monitor the processes that are using the network. The software provides detailed visualizations of network activity, including graphs and charts that show the amount of data being transmitted and received over time.

GlassWire also provides alerts for potential security risks. If there is an unexpected change in the network traffic patterns, such as a sudden increase in data usage, GlassWire will alert the user and provide information on the process that is using the network. This allows users to quickly identify and address potential security threats.

Another feature of GlassWire is its firewall. The firewall provides an additional layer of security by controlling which processes can access the network. This helps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and protects against the transmission of malware.

The software also has a privacy mode that allows users to hide their network activity from others. This is useful for those who are using public Wi-Fi networks and want to ensure that their sensitive information is not being intercepted.

GlassWire also has a feature that allows users to monitor data usage on mobile devices. This is useful for those who are using both a Windows device and a mobile device and want to monitor the data usage on both devices from one central location.

In conclusion, GlassWire is an excellent tool for monitoring data usage in Windows. Its user-friendly interface, detailed visualizations, and security features make it easy for users to monitor their network activity and protect against potential security risks. With GlassWire, users can have peace of mind knowing that their sensitive information is secure and that their devices are protected from malware.