7 New Year’s #Cybersecurity #Resolutions for #Everyone

With less than two weeks left on the 2017 calendar, I’ve started to think about life after the holidays and what personal resolve I will need to accomplish some of my goals for next year.

For me, this entails a lot of dedication and discipline as I train for a spring marathon. But I know that’s not for everyone, and in order for our resolutions to be successful, they need to be reasonable and achievable. And while I put a lot of focus on running, I also wholeheartedly believe there are certain things in all our lives that can be changed for the better without a whole lot of effort.

Take cybersecurity for example. Even the biggest technophobes among us can up their game with some reasonable resolutions that will make things like using your credit card or shopping online safer and more secure.

There are some terrific websites out there that offer good advice and information about online safety, like “Stop. Think. Connect” for example. But before you hop over to that site, check out my seven cybersecurity resolutions for everyone to consider adding to their own lists:

1. I Will Be Security-Aware
Being security-aware means that you understand that there are people out there who will deliberately (or even by accident) steal or misuse your personal information. Awareness is the first step. Next comes education and diligence around cybersecurity.

Here’s an easy step: sign up for text and email alerts to get informed about important activity on your bank and credit card accounts. If you’ve misplaced your wallet, you can easily shut off your cards on your accounts’ apps. (I can say from personal experience doing this can give you peace of mind until you finally find your wallet under the driver’s seat of your car.)

2. I Will Stop at the Autofilling Station for Online Shoppers
Online shopping will get a little safer and easier with the latest Android platform “Oreo” due to its expanded autofill framework. For example, Oreo will allow you to recognize credit card forms and addresses, and if you’ve got that information stored in your LastPass vault, we’ll safely fill that up for you.

3. I Will Only Visit Secure, Trustworthy Websites
You don’t need to be a security expert to know if you are on a safe, legitimate website. Simply check the URL to confirm there’s an “s” after “http” at the beginning (like this post’s URL).

By the way, that “s” stands for “secure”. When you’re on your local Starbucks’ or any airport’s Wi-Fi network, you aren’t on a secure connection so reconsider shopping on Amazon Prime until you get home.

4. I Will Treat My Passwords with Kindness and Let Them Thrive
Treat your passwords like you treat your child. They all thrive with discipline, structure and love. For starters, stop leaving your passwords defenseless against cybercriminals because you’ve made them simple and easy to guess, or over-exposed through reuse on multiple websites. Break the cycle with a simple password management tool that will generate strong and unique passwords for every account, change them as often as you like (or as it advises), and keep them locked up tight.

5. I Will Keep My Devices and Applications Updated
When Apple, Microsoft or Google strongly encourage you to apply the latest mobile or laptop operating system update (e.g. Apple iOS, Windows) because of a security vulnerability, they aren’t kidding around. Update it. Or just set it to happen when you’re sleeping.

The inconvenience of managing your software updates is significantly dwarfed by the ever so inconvenient identity theft. Check the settings on your laptops, tablets, and smartphones to manage automatic updates to apps, software, and operating systems. Don’t forget your browsers while you’re at it. They’re a gateway to everything important on your machine. And don’t drag your heels like the folks at Equifax. Earlier this year they neglected to patch a known vulnerability which led to a massive breach of personal data belonging to 146 million people.

6. I Will Not Overshare on Social Media
I was on a popular social site the other day to check out my niece’s new profile. I sent her a link to a photo of her house on Google Earth and noted that anyone could do the same because her home address was public. (I’m subtle like that.)

Check your settings on Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social media site you use. Make sure your personal email address, phone numbers, addresses, and birthdate are only visible to you. (And maybe keep ‘em locked up in a password vault while you’re at it.) All cybercriminals need is a few bits of information about you to put together the rest of the puzzle.

7. I Will Stay Motivated to Meet My Resolutions
Be realistic when setting any of your goals. They should be attainable, not out of reach. Give yourself a reasonable timeline to meet your resolutions, and celebrate milestones along the way. If you don’t lose those 10 pounds by the end of January, fend off the shame and guilt, and keep at it.

So let those passwords of yours thrive. They’re fat-free.

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