13 Security Resolutions for 2013 – Follow Them or Get Hacked!

by Michael Sheehan on December 28, 2012

in Application, Family, General, How To, Opinion, Parenting, Security, Social Media, Software, Trend Micro

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With just a few hours left in 2012, it’s time to think about ways to make 2013 an even better year. I’m sure that all of you are planning on going to the gym about 20 times a day, or eliminating all fat from your diet, or working to become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013. I wish you all the best of luck with those grandiose goals of perfection and world dominance. My New Year’s Resolutions are a little less aggressive, but, as you might guess, they do involve technology and writing. So to kick off the New Year’s Resolutions, I thought that I would help you out a bit with some that you can put on your list and feel happy about accomplishing fairly easily.

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Let’s talk security. I’m sure for many of you, this isn’t really something that you think about often, but if you own a computer or laptop or mobile device, or, manage your entire family or business’s computer infrastructure like I do, you probably do want to keep your environments safe and secure. And while updating and maintaining the security of those systems can be a yearly project, it really should be much more frequently than that…at least monthly. For the past year, I have been participating in a program with other bloggers around the country called The Digital Joneses. Our corporate sponsor is Trend Micro who has been providing us with themed challenges to sharpen our security skills and be able to speak much more intelligently about things people should think about when it comes to privacy and security.

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As part of my end of the year post, I thought that I would go back to the 9 other challenges that I have written about and compile a list of 13 items (for 2013) that I consider to be the top New Year’s Security Resolutions for 2013. If you implement even a few of these items, you are already making your digital life much safer than it was before, so good job! (I have linked to specific articles within each item should you want to read more – these are chronological, not ranked by priority).

13 Security Resolutions for 2013

  1. Use Internet Security Software – If your computer doesn’t have any anti-virus or malware protection, it is vulnerable for an attach, a hack or have a bot net installed on it. All of your personal information is open to prying eyes. There are lots of security suites out there (including from Trend Micro). Be sure to keep your virus definitions updated. (March 2012)
  2. Become More Knowledgeable about Internet Security – Trend Micro put together a pretty nifty security quiz at the beginning of the program. Try it out here. This month, Trend Micro put together 10 important security definitions that you should know and learn. (March 2012)
  3. Use Parental Controls – If you have kids, it would make sense to ensure that their Internet experience is safe and not rated R. You can filter websites and ensure that your kids are not seeing inappropriate content or talking to questionable strangers as well. (April 2012)
  4. Work WITH Your Children & Train them how to be safe online – With all of the social networks out there, “stranger danger” couldn’t be more of a clear and present danger for kids who are online. Spend some time with your kids and educate them on the best practices when it comes to being online. (April 2012)
  5. Watch your email – Don’t click on links you don’t know, don’t open attachments that look odd or from people you don’t know, and don’t send passwords over email. (April 2012)
  6. Keep your Operating System, Installed Applications and Web Browsers current – Most of these items have automatic updates which makes keeping your computer system up-to-date extremely easy. Updates come out for a reason. They either fix bugs or security holes, or add handy features or functions. (April 2012)
  7. Stop using the same, insecure password on every site – Develop a Password Formula. Take the next step and create passwords that are unique to a site and are hard to decode. And use a password manager. (April 2012)
  8. Help your children make their cell phones safer - Most people don’t think about security when it comes to mobile devices. Some smartphones can get infected and share personal information to 3rd parties without you knowing it. Take some easy steps to make the phone safer like putting on a pass code, turn off location services, and keep software up to date. For some smartphone platforms, there are even anti-virus apps that you can install. (May 2012)
  9. Learn who your kids converse with online – Kids are a bit gullible and vulnerable when it comes to online interactions. It’s incredibly easy to talk with a stranger online and even share information that you don’t want to. Kids don’t know how to distinguish innocent questions from questions with ulterior motives. And don’t think that this is related to only a computer or even a smart phone, it can be with a game console as well. (June 2012)
  10. Don’t get suckered in by a phishing scam – Phishing scams are getting more sophisticated each and every day. Be sure that you know what to look for, don’t click on any links that come unsolicited, and ensure that you have a modern browser. You can learn more about what phishing is on the monthly article. (July 2012)
  11. Secure your Digital Identity – Using some of the tips above as well as the ones in the August 2012 article will move your digital identity into a much more secure or hardened state. Things like 2-factor authentication, complex unique passwords, making backups of your data and media, and other tricks, will give you a leg up on cyber threats. (August 2012)
  12. Don’t download software you don’t know – Whether someone sends you a link or you search out a particular app, take extreme caution when downloading these types of things. Some 3rd party software (not the application developer or the main source of the software) can contain viruses and other scary stuff. (October 2012)
  13. Avoid questionable sites when making purchases – If your gut tells you that the site you are on is a bit odd, that should be enough of a reason to not use that site. If you can, still to a local boutique that you know or major retailer websites as a safer option. (November 2012)

If you work your way through these resolutions, I can guarantee that your computer or other digital device will be much safer than ever before. Some of these take a bit of time to do, but be diligent and do these updates or activities regularly. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive!

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Have a Happy, Safe, Sane and Secure New Years for 2013!

Disclosure Text: For the Digital Joneses Study, Trend Micro has provided each of the bloggers involved, including me, technology, monetary compensation, and/or software items for use in the various challenges and/or for review. I have a material connection because I received these items for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return these items or gifts after my review period or the study duration. All opinions within this article are my own and not subject to editing or approval by Trend Micro, its agencies, or its contractors. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.

HTD says: What are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions?

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  • NoName

    I think dude, that you need some help:

    1. No, because anti-virus software does not protect from newest malware. I did not use AV for last 2 years – my PC was a lot faster. There are maybe 2 top AV software that is free and usable – the rest does not do any good job and there are many more, that actually are malware, that pretend to be AV.

    2. well, you must learn all your life – most of the times you will learn from your mistakes.

    3. I would advise to use Firefox and install AdBlock – I would be more concerned, that there are advertisements, that show nudity, but I have not been aware about advertisements in last 10+ years, so I don’t know. Parental control – well, ask yourself if you are controlling parent? I do not really like these two words together or that kids should be controlled – you must educate your kid, but not control – because you can’t, as he is making his own decisions from the first day he came to life.

    4. No – I’m pretty sure, that as a parent you will learn much better from your kid how to block stranger, than teach him…

    5. in year 2013 it will be really novelty, or was it in year 2003?

    6. ok, but really – if you don’t know about this, your first concern would be learning how PC operates

    7. no, use your memory or store on paper – unfortunately there are malwares that search for passwords in files

    8. You obviously use iPhone. I’m using my Google Map(and before that Nokia Map, that was greater than Google, because there were no intrusive advertisements and it was usable off-line) almost every day, because I use it to find shops, friends locations, and so on. I’d rather not use some applications, that I’m not sure about than turn off navigation, because occasionally I use my phone for navigation with car – because I’m not spending money to waste it on things, that do the same.
    Anti-virus for mobile – you got to be kidding…

    rest is ok, but it really comes with knowledge and caution with handling private information

  • mcfatfuck

    Extra tip for you hightechdad, Downloading a proxy or something to protect your IP is really smart, I recommend Hotspot Shield, it’s free and it changes your IP.

    Now you’re probably wondering what you’re going to do with it.

    A really easy and famous way to attack a computer is using a RAT.

    basically they can access your computer once you get it, and how you get it is simply downloading a picture. You have probably heard about skype, ofcourse you have.

    If you or your daughters are on skype, the IP can easily be traced, and if they just accept any picture, and download it, there is a chance that a rat is inside. myself I have 3 different rats that I use often for lulz and lulz accessories. its easy, I send packages through a port, from my IP to yours, and I’ll get all your information, I can control your computer, get all the password used in IE, E-mail, Firefox, Chrome etc etc.

    What I just explained was probably hard to understand, all I recommend is Hotspot Shield, if you have any troubles doing something, simply deactivate it for a little while, it can interfere with utorrent forexample, but at the end of the day you have some extra protection.

    Regards anonymous 17 year old hacker from Norway.

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Thanks for the comments and advice. It’s important to remember that while you and I might be a bit more savvy about internet security, the majority of end users might not be (think 80/20 rule). The advice that I’m giving is for those people who haven’t really thought much about security for their PCs.

    To address some of your points:
    1) I agree that there are several A/V & security suites that do slow down your computer. I have tried many different ones on different OS’s. I have uninstalled the ones that seem to be memory hogs and stuck with ones that seem to do the job without too much performance degradation. But most people won’t notice the needed protection.
    2) Yes, mistakes are good learning, but if you can potentially avoid making them and learning from other people’s advice, that’s a bit easier.
    3) I use AdBlock on all of my systems. That’s a good recommendation. Parental Controls can go beyond simply blocking sites, it can also restrict the amount of time a child uses a computer or when they access the computer. This choice is up to the parent to decide.
    4) Yes, kids are extremely savvy but it also depends on their age and the amount of exposure that they have had to the Internet. I believe that a good strategy is to work with your child to help them understand the risks. And yes, you can learn from them as well. It depends on both the child and parent.
    5) Email phishing and other scams is as bad as ever. I still believe it is one of the main dangers out there.
    6) I help people all of the time with their computers. You would be shocked to learn how many of them never run updates for one reason or another.
    7) My point on this password item is that many people use the same password for each and every site. They need to have distinct ones for every site. I recommended creating easy to remember formulae that can help with this. Password managers (not in your browser) are locally encrypted using military grade encryption and better, in my opinion , than writing them down. What is someone gets that paper? What if you lost that paper?
    8) There are plenty of stories about malicious code and malware on Android. People, especially children, don’t know what to look for so an anti-malware app might be good.

    Hope that helps! Thanks for the comments.

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Interesting. I used TOR for a while but found it too slow and unreliable. I will take a look at HotSpot Shield (assuming it is from a reputable developer). I’m glad that you pointed out how easy it is to do things. Most people don’t realize this and that is part of the reason why I wrote the article in the first place.

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