New year, new you, so they say. With most people running around at the start of the new year making resolutions about going to the gym sticking to a diet, or saving money, you have the opportunity to leave the beaten path and work on a better you—in a slightly different way.
What do you always check you have before you leave the house? Wallet, keys, maybe a bag or a purse—and your phone. What do you sit in front of at your job? Probably a computer screen. And what do you do when you come home from a long day of working for the man? Put something on TV and scroll through Facebook, probably—not that there’s anything inherently wrong with all that.
The point is, we are increasingly “plugged in.” And seeing as technology is consuming a larger and larger portion of our lives, we owe it to ourselves to be mindful of our usage and adjust our habits when they are not aligned with our larger life goals. We also need to keep our professional lives in focus as well.
With that in mind, let’s look at tech resolutions you should consider making this year.
For starters, the new year is a perfect opportunity to start practicing good cyber hygiene, and it all starts with strong password habits. We’ve shown you before that your passwords aren’t good enough, and we mean it. One out of every 142 passwords is “123456.” Talk about unoriginal. More important that originality is security. For obvious reasons, if you’re using a short, predictable password like this one, you need to change it as soon as you can.
You’ve got other options for making your passwords stronger. The first is to increase your password length. Most experts recommend using passwords that are sixteen to twenty-four characters long. You can remember these credentials by using passphrases—something like “WagonChipDebtNap.” It’s easier to remember than “G25sDq67@#5^se4&” and it’s just as secure. And if remembering these passphrases is too difficult, you should consider a password manager app. They are largely considered a safe option thanks to zero-knowledge security.
Finally, never use the same password across multiple accounts. Compromised passwords often end up on dark web forums where hackers can share information. And if they have one of your passwords, they’re bound to try it for other websites too—your bank, your Amazon account, your Facebook account, and more. You name it, they’ll try to steal it.
Speaking of keeping your account secure this new year, you should enable two-factor authentication (2FA) across all of your accounts, starting with the most important ones. 2FA is an extra layer of security that can stop hackers dead in their tracks—even if they have your log-in information. Any log-in attempt from an unrecognized device will trigger a 2FA request: a call, text, or email with a secret code to prove you are who you say you are.
Setting a resolution to improve your password habits and to enable two-factor authentication for all of your important accounts is a great way to start protecting yourself online.
While you’re busy protecting yourself online, it’s also worth considering how your employees are being protected as well. You can do this by looking at some of the most pressing threats on the horizon right now. First on that list is phishing. According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing attacks are the number one entry method for malware and spyware and the top threat action in breaches. In other words, they are no laughing matter.
That is why your employees need to be trained. Make it a resolution this year to start requiring security trainings for all employees. At the very least, they should be familiar with and be comfortable identifying potential phishing emails (and other fraudulent emails). There are many services that let you test your employees with staged, harmless phishing emails. Will your team fall for them? Remember, it only takes one person.
Human error is just one element that makes your company vulnerable. There are many more holes in your cybersecurity that you need to plug in order to stay afloat over the next year. If you haven’t addressed them yet, now is the time to start.
First, if you have employees working from home, you need to make sure they are set up for success. Given that the devices they are using are endpoints for your network, you need to make sure they are secure. Now that so many of us have had time to adjust to working from home, there is no longer any excuse to have poor remote security. When possible, distribute company-owned devices to employees so they are not forced to use personal, potentially vulnerable devices. Your company-owned devices should come installed with antivirus software, firewalls, and automatic patching.
A less expensive but no less important resolution you can make is to establish company policies and procedures related to working from home. This is your opportunity to explain and enforce best practices for all remote employees. That way, there are no gaps in understanding. While you’re at it, you can review the whole company’s IT policies. When these documents are not routinely updated, they can quickly become outdated and no longer relevant. The new year is your chance to change that.
Finally, set a resolution for yourself and your business to review your data backups and disaster recovery plans. Many businesses mistakenly have this “it won’t happen to me” mentality. The truth is, you might be vulnerable to data breaches or permanent data loss—even ransomware attacks—unless your data is backed up off-site with several redundancies in place.
Moving away from your cyber hygiene and business protection, there are resolutions you can make for the new year that will keep you organized and happier.
The first personal tech resolution you can make achieves both of these goals. CNET recommends that you “detox your inbox.” What they mean by this is that you should go through your email and get rid of all the junk. Don’t just delete the individual emails themselves; unsubscribe from them. You can usually find an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any given email, or, if you’re on iOS, then there should be an button at the top of the email. CNET recommends making a resolution to unsubscribe from 5 emails per day until your inbox is fully “detoxed.”
For any of us that take social media a little too seriously, the new year presents an opportunity: take a step back and evaluate what you share and post. If you’re someone that frequently gets into arguments online, make a resolution to do less of that. Or, if you’re a really awesome person, you can simply make a resolution to be nicer online. If enough people do this, we can make the internet a nice place to be.
Speaking of making the internet a better place to be, you can do your part to make the roads a safer place to be by resolving to stop using your phone while driving. Right around 40,000 people die in car accidents every year, and while all of these are not related to texting and driving, some of them undoubtedly are. While we can’t recommend you use your phone while driving, we understand people still do. If you do, you can be safer by mounting your phone somewhere close to the dashboard. This way, your eyes won’t have to travel as far as they might otherwise have to.
Resolve to Be Better
All of us, no matter who we are, can strive to make the new year better than the last. That could mean improving our cyber hygiene so our personal information is safe, overhauling our policies and procedures so our business are safer, or making the highways (digital or physical) safer spaces to be. What tech-related resolutions are you making this year? Let us know by tweeting us @MachadoConsultg.