Your New Year’s resolution should be to lose 50 pounds: 50 pounds of worry over the security of your digital world. My New Year’s resolution is to lose 3 pounds of that stubborn belly fat that even starving myself and discipline doesn’t seem to work.
Anyways… for the New Year, consider implementing the following tips to help prevent identity theft in 2017.
Delete: Shed the unwanted weight of computer files you no longer need, by deleting your excess clutter.
Security Software: This is a must: anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall, etc. and pay for it. Remember, you get what you pay for – don’t trust your identity to a free piece of software.
Public Wi-Fi: If you absolutely must use public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions including e-mail correspondence, use a virtual private network (VPN); this encrypts your transmissions, making them impossible for hackers to read.
Backup Daily: Back up your files every day on a flash drive or larger external drive. Consider a cloud backup service.
Don’t Forget Your Smartphone: That little thing is a hacker’s favorite target. What you do with your PC you should do with your phone as far as security. Your phone is especially at risk if it uses an Android operating system.
Create Strong Passwords: Review the passwords to every important account. No two should be the same. All should be long and void of keyboard sequences and actual words/names. The most unhackable passwords are 12 characters consisting of random strings of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
Don’t Be Click-Happy: Don’t hastily click on every alluring link that comes your way. Hackers put out links to lure people into clicking—triggering a virus download. For once, try to pass up the urge to click a link that supposedly goes to a “caught on tape” of a man being eaten by a crocodile.
Links inside emails in messages from unfamiliar senders or senders that seem to be from your bank, the IRS, UPS, Walmart, etc., are dangerous.
HTTPS: If you’re going to a website that has http instead of https in its URL, realize that no “s” means the site is not secure. This doesn’t mean it’s malicious, but an “s” is a sign of security reassurance. A legitimate website for your bank, health plan carrier, etc., will have an “s.”
2FA: Two factor authentication is an extra layer of security for your accounts. If your account offers this, sign up for it. This prevents logins to your account unless you can receive a one-time numerical code via phone and type it into the login field.
Operating System Reinstall: An annual reinstall will clean things up, speed up your computer and rid it of bloatware.
Credit Card Chip: Does your credit card have a chip on it? If not, get one. The U.S. is gradually converting to chip technology in place of swiping technology, which is much more secure.
Protect Your House: Reassess your home security. Every little bit helps: security cameras in plain site, security company signs on the property, security company decals on your windows, penetration-proof film on your windows, motion sensor lights, top grade deadbolts, anti-kick-down door guards, and more.
Invest In Identity Theft Protection: Yup, do it. When all else fails, having a solid service to watch your back is the equivalent of losing 50 pounds of fat and gaining 50 pounds of muscle.