4.5 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make for Your Security, Sanity & Peace-of-Mind
The New Year is a time for fresh beginnings. While weight loss resolutions and promises to obliterate bad habits might be broken by Valentine’s Day, here are some tech resolutions you can make that will bring you long-lasting peace of mind and security, at least for the next 12 months.
1. Implement a back-up system for your important data. If you’re doing anything important on your computer, from college term papers to running a small business or even storing photos of your grandchildren, I shouldn’t need to reiterate how important data back-ups are. Unfortunately, research shows most people don’t back up their data.
A Harris Interactive survey discovered that only 7 percent of respondents back up their data daily, 14 percent do it weekly and 23 percent perform monthly back-ups. That leaves 56 percent who have no back-ups at all.
Today’s external USB hard drives, offering terabytes of storage capacity at very affordable prices, make it easy to back up your data. Automate the process to back up files overnight, so you don’t have to think about it.
If you already have a back-up system in place, boot up the drive and your data to make sure the system has been working correctly.
Note: This is the bare minimum of data back-ups you should perform and it truly is better than nothing. Typically, we recommend three different forms of back-up for business data, including one stored off-site in case of a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane.
2. Update your anti-virus, malware and spyware software. Most virus and malware protection comes with an annual subscription. So if you invest in a good package today and simply hit “yes” when your computer asks you if you want to perform regular updates and scans, you won’t have to think about it until this time next year.
3. Change your passwords. When was the last time you changed your passwords? If it was some time in 2012, you are way behind! Ideally, you’ll change passwords monthly or whenever there is risk of a breach (for instance, news comes out that a major website like LinkedIn was hacked), but making a resolution to start now is better than nothing. The best passwords contain a mix of letters, numbers and special characters, and do not spell out any recognizable word. In fact, the industry is adopting the term “passphrase” rather than “password” to reflect best practices for securing your devices and apps.
4. Lock down your Internet access against unauthorized use. If you use a wireless internet connection in your home or office, lock down your router with a password, enable WPA2 (or WEP if you have devices manufactured pre-2006) encryption, and activate MAC address filtering. This last step will prohibit anyone from using your wireless connection, even if they have the password, until you add the MAC address of their device to your router.
4.5 – Secure your mobile devices, too. Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, are at even greater risk than desktop PCs to fall victim to hacks, security breaches and infestations of viruses and malware. Some malware may drain a device’s battery, either as a side effect or to result in a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. Other malware attacks can do everything from tracking your location to stealing your financial information.
Unfortunately, as vulnerable as they are, fewer security measures exist to protect smartphones and other mobile devices. Most of the security measures are common sense.
For instance, use a password or pin to lock your phone. Some phones provide a feature to add a second security code on top of the first. You can also install Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to “wipe” the data from your phone if your device is ever lost or stolen. Finally, do not store passwords, bank information or other sensitive data on your phone.
These tips may not be the ultimate security measures you can take to protect your vital information, but they are a good start if you’ve previously been ignoring security completely. Make a vow this New Year’s to become aware of data security and take these important first steps.
Want to get to the next level of data security? Internet Tech Specialists can help. Make one more resolution to contact us for a security audit. The investment will be well worth the peace of mine you’ll discover when you find out the best ways to protect yourself, your family and your data.
Image source: Efi on MorgueFiles