Regardless of whether or not you make New Year’s resolutions, the first few weeks of January are always a good time for you to assess your personal and professional habits. A little extra effort can go a long way towards helping you reach goals that can improve your quality of life. Sometimes we need that added accountability to shift things for the better and establish new behaviors that pay off quickly.
Regardless of if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, improve your financial situation, or achieve any other important priority, creating resolutions can get you started on the path to long-term changes, both positive and productive. With that in mind, and in the spirit of the season, here’s a look at some cybersecurity resolutions to help you have a better New Year.
Monitor and Control Electronic Devices
We all live in a constantly connected world. The average US household now has around 25 connected devices, and this number is steadily rising. That new electronic gadget you got or gave for Christmas might be a lot of fun and a useful tool, but it also creates more possibilities for criminals to reach you and for them to commit identity theft and fraud at your expense.
Be sure to keep every device – both new and old – that you and your family own updated, so that those have the latest security features installed. An out-of-date device can mean easy access for a lurking cyberthief. With so many connected electronics around the house, the chance of a hack or malware incident is alarming.
If you have a device that’s too old for an update, it’s probably time to get rid of it. And be sure to monitor kids’ devices as well, to make sure that security features on those are turned on. Criminals don’t care who is using the device. If there is an easy opportunity to gain access to a tablet, phone, or computer, it’s going to be exploited.
Create Complex Passwords but Don’t Stop There
Virtually everyone understands that using a simple password on any account or device is a bad idea. But even that awareness hasn’t quite been enough to prevent people from using basic passwords that are easy for hackers to figure out. On top of this, best practice still dictates that you should use different passwords for every account and device that you have. By your following that practice, not all your accounts will be compromised in the event of a hack or data breach.
One general misconception is that adding a capital letter or symbol to a short, one-word password is enough to make it complicated. Capable cyber thieves utilize software and criminal skills to easily crack short passwords. A much better practice to prevent this is to utilize longer passwords that are inherently more complex and difficult to replicate. A good piece of advice here is to use a long phrase – maybe from a song, story, or quote that you like.
Longer passwords are a good first step towards a more secure year, but these aren’t the only part of the process. Multi-factor authorization and 2-factor authorization are other crucial pieces of the security puzzle. If you are unaware of these, they require you to verify your login credentials through another means in addition to just a password. A verification code sent to your phone or email is a common form of this added authentication and using such methods can help create another layer of security to prevent your account from becoming compromised.
Limit Sharing on Social Media
Social media platforms are built to help you share pictures, thoughts, and just about anything else with your network of friends and family. But getting too complacent or comfortable with this sharing can end in digital disaster. Bad actors often prowl around social media, searching for any crumb of personal information that they can use to steal identities or to gain access to accounts. If you aren’t careful, you can provide the perpetrators with all the necessary ingredients for them to take advantage of you or your loved ones.
Without instructing you to avoid social media sharing outright, always be careful with what you do share. Never provide highly personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, or account information. That may seem obvious, but even a location tag or other seemingly unimportant information can lead criminals to your online doorstep. Less is more when it comes to enhanced safety and security. If you don’t really need to share information, it’s best that you don’t. If the social platform you use has any enhanced privacy or security settings, be sure to utilize those to your benefit as well.
Use Caution at All Times
The truth of our modern digital world is that a constant barrage of cybersecurity threats is all around us. Even if you fully commit to practicing all the resolutions and best practices mentioned above, there is no way to prevent the chance of identity theft and other issues entirely. You need to remain vigilant in your efforts to enhance personal security. Having identity theft coverage for you and your family will provide peace and mind and critical support when an incident occurs. But using caution in every area of your personal life is essential as well.
Scammers are always out there, and this problem will most likely never be resolved. That means you should be aware of common tactics such as phishing and phone scams and realize that more complex and deceptive strategies are being developed virtually every day. It can be challenging to keep up with every way a criminal might try to defraud you, but your realizing these difficulties can help you by nudging you always to stay on guard.
If you suspect that something is a scam, or even if it just feels out of place, there is a good chance that it is a scam. Adopting new habits can help you to establish enhanced defenses, but your exercising caution is key. You never know when and where cybercriminals might strike, and your being careful can help you to avoid a complicated situation before it begins. With a little knowledge, vigilance, and awareness, we all can commit to making this year safer from a cybersecurity perspective.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.