Cyber‑savvy New Year’s resolutions you’ll want to keep

Put cyber security at the top of your New Year’s resolution list for 2017, implementing a digital detox and improving your online behaviors.

Put cyber security at the top of your New Year’s resolution list for 2017, implementing a digital detox and improving your online behaviors.

For many, the New Year is a great time for starting afresh and improving on behaviors and actions from the previous year. As a result, many of us turn our attention to New Year’s resolutions – setting goalposts for the year ahead. While losing weight, quitting smoking or hitting the gym are all popular resolutions, it’s worth giving thought to your relationship with technology too.

The problem with today’s New Year’s resolutions is that they’ve become all too complex. As Confucius said, “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”.

Rather than set ourselves obtainable goals, we set ourselves too much to achieve at once. Take the popular weight loss resolution as an example; lots of people sign up to the gym in the New Year, cut out drinking and junk food, and attempt to turn themselves into the ultimate healthy eating chef. By adopting an extreme approach like this, we set ourselves up for failure. Instead, small, achievable, time-bound goals hold the answer.

7 steps to a cyber-savvy 2017

1. A different kind of detox

One New Year’s resolution you might not have considered is a digital detox. Yes, a New Year’s resolution and being kind to yourself can go hand-in-hand. Achieving a healthier balance between real life and technology will see you reap rewards such as improved focus and more restful sleep.

In fact, Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2016 found that our reliance on the Internet is negatively impacting our personal and working lives. In a study, which saw Internet users go offline for a period of time, the majority of participants reported a positive experience. A third said they felt more productive, 27% found it liberating, while a quarter said they enjoyed life more. The key to making a digital detox a success, however, is setting realistic goals. Instead of switching off from technology completely, choose one day a week to switch off. Alternatively, why not turn off all your technologies at 7 pm each night, spending your evening winding down and enjoying better sleep.

2. Get cyber security fit

The same principles apply to cyber security. Instead of changing all your passwords on the first day of the New Year and logging out of all your social media accounts, take a longer-term approach and implement small steps.

To make sure you’re in the best shape possible when it comes to cyber security, we recommend that you:

3. Install antivirus and malware software

Perhaps you decided to ditch the antivirus software a while back or maybe your subscription has run out. Whatever your reasoning for not having antivirus software, we suggest you invest in it now. Without it, you are at even higher risk of innocently downloading malware or becoming victim of a scam. As ESET researcher Aryeh Goretsky says, antivirus certainly isn’t dead.

4. Update all software regularly

Software updates seem to pop-up at the most inconvenient of times – but patching your device in a timely manner is essential in protecting against attack. Software updates for programs – including Microsoft and Internet Explorer, as well as your mobile devices – contain vital security upgrades, which help to protect your device.

5. Start becoming password savvy

If you use the same password for all devices and accounts, it’s time to change. Weak passwords or re-used passwords make the work of a cybercriminal easy.

Begin the New Year by creating secure, complex passwords or passphrases for all your accounts. Don’t stop at this step though. Set a reoccurring appointment in your calendar to change your passwords regularly and make password management a new habit.

6. Keep social media accounts but treat them with caution

Instead of deleting or logging out of all your social media accounts, why not adopt a more balanced approach? Use social media accounts on an ad hoc basis rather than scrolling through your feed all day.

It’s also important to be conscious of what you post on social media and to secure your accounts – you don’t want to give too much away. Announcing your birthday or that you’re away on holiday can be dangerous when the information falls into a cybercriminal’s hands.

7. Apply cyber safe thinking to all devices

Did you know that devices like your mobile are also subject to attack? With all internet-connected technologies at risk of being compromised, it’s essential that you applying all the same thinking and security practices to all your devices; not just your laptop.

Implementing these small but effective changes in your behavior and technology usage could make a huge difference in 2017. Remember, it’s steady, progressive steps, rather than extremities, that win the race.

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