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.
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.
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
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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!
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?