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Did you make a New Year’s resolution or 2019? While many people set ambitious goals each January – from losing weight to reading more books – most don’t even come close to reaching them. According to U.S. News, 80 percent of people have abandoned their resolutions by the second week of February.
The reasons for giving up on these resolution aren’t a mystery – many are simply too difficult to achieve. So let us propose a resolution that you can more easily keep: Securing your online presence. We’ll look at a few practices to throw out in 2019 and what you can replace them with. “Out with the old, in with the new” as they say!
Out with recycled passwords…
Discussing the risks of reusing password can feel like movie “Groundhog Day,” with everything getting repeated time after time. Yet it’s always worth coming back to, since so many people continue to recycle their passwords. A 2018 LastPass survey found that 59 percent of respondents reused passwords despite 91 percent of them understanding the associated risks, namely having someone easily guess the right password and then gain access to multiple accounts.
…and in with password management
You have plenty of options for making stronger passwords. Two of the best are:
- Using a password manager that automatically creates, saves and synchronizes passwords for you in a secure e-vault. All you need is a master password to unlock it.
- Creating passwords based on phrase abbreviations. For example, you could write a memorable sentence and then use the first letter of each word along with a number and a special character to make a really strong password.
Out with walking into phishing scams…
Phishing is one of the bluntest, yet most effective cyberattack vectors. For a phishing scheme to succeed, all that needs to happen is for the target to click a link passed along via email, text or social media. Many security breaches start with phishing, in the form of message that asks the recipient to take action.
…and in with anti-phishing and closer scrutiny
A lot of attempts at phishing are easy to spot: There’s often a typo, unusual grammatical construction or suspicious sender email address that will tip you off that the exchange is not entirely on the level. For more subtle attempts, lean on the protections built-in to your email service, which is likely to classify many risky messages as spam, and leverage a comprehensive protective solution like Total Defense Ultimate Internet Security to contain the effects of any phishing-initiated infection.
Out with unsafe online shopping and other transactions…
The security of what you do online depends on the presence of multiple protections. First, is the network itself secure? Not always: Public Wi-Fi is a prime example of a connection type that can be fundamentally insecure by being unencrypted and potentially monitored by untrusted parties. Second, is HTTPS in place? Fraudulent websites might try to swindle you by hosting pages for sensitive transactions at plain old HTTP addresses that put your data at risk.
…and in with fully secure browsing
Safer browsing starts with using a secure network. The best bets are usually a password-protected Wi-Fi network you own, the cellular service on your phone or tablet or a trusted Ethernet connection. For further protection, always check for the HTTPS banner, especially on sites such as online stores or banking apps. An encrypted connection via HTTPS is indicated with a padlock and/or green text specifying who owns the site’s certificate.
Out with not maintaining regular backups of your data…
If you don’t backup your data, you’re hardly alone. Many businesses, let alone individuals, have no formal backup procedures in place, meaning they run the constant risk of losing critical information to a cyberattack. The rise of ransomware is particularly troubling in this context. A ransomware attack can encrypt all of your important data and deny access to it unless you pay a steep fee.
…and in with multi-layered backup
Consider a multi-pronged backup strategy. Use local storage media like an external hard drive in tandem with an online backup service such as the one built into Ultimate Internet Security. That way, you’ll have multiple copies of your data that you can backup and restore to in the case of a drive failure or a ransomware attack.