New Year’s resolutions… IT style!
Here we are again, the usual time of the year where we plan ahead and we all become obsessed with New Year’s resolutions, even if the majority of us haven’t managed to keep the ones we set this time last year. That said, one should not stop having targets and now is a great time to make some resolutions relating to the world of IT.
Home security is taken seriously by everyone nowadays compared to the times when everyone used to leave their home key hanging in the lock on the outside! Everyone has learned that threats have increased over the years and that we must now be more aware to do everything we can in order to make it difficult for anyone to attempt a break-in. As a new year’s resolution, we must start applying the same kind of focus to our Cyberspace. We are increasingly dependent on the internet, which we use for almost everything; thus, creating our own Cyberspace. We must therefore protect this in the same way we protect our homes so that all of our data, stored both online and on our personal computers, does not become compromised in any way.
Online threats are multiplying as each year passes and individuals with malicious intent are making millions out of this type of “job”, so if we can increase our knowledge of how these individuals work, we can go some way towards avoiding from falling prey to their tactics. This can only really be achieved by regularly reading articles either online or in print. There are also the well-known things we can and should repeat to ourselves such as “I will not happy click on any links or emails”, “I will look more closely at contents of a suspicious message” and “I am not so lucky that I might win anything, especially if I have not entered in any contest”. These phrases might save us from phishing emails or emails that contain links to malware.
How long has it been since you last changed your passwords? How many online accounts do you have with the same password? Where do you store the passwords for multiple accounts? Are your passwords easy to guess? I bet that in more than 9 out of 10 cases the answer to these questions would be very disappointing. Set it as one of your 2017 goals to change passwords to your most important accounts and make it possible not to use the same password for all accounts; so that, if one account is breached, the others are not in danger as well. You can also easily download install password managers to keep track of all the different password you have. Nonetheless this might come with its own risks… So, if you decide to keep them written down somewhere, be sure not to leave them running around where everyone can find them. Also consider enabling ‘Two-Factor Authentication’ on any of your online accounts, this allows you to receive a pin number on your mobile every time you try and login to any account, adding a layer of security which makes it more difficult for a break-in attempt on your accounts.
Another New Year’s resolution should focus on backing up all of your data. Imagine if all those photos, personal documents or study material that are stored on your computer somehow get lost! Frequent backing up of data can save you from such an unfortunate experience as data can be lost both upon malware infection or hardware failure and these can happen at any given time… don’t think about it, do it! In fact, there are many ways to create and automatically maintain a copy of your data and store it either on online storage or an external hard drive – a little bit of reading is all it takes.
Have you ever tried to do a search for yourself on the internet from a friend’s computer? Have you ever tried to see what information is accessible from your online account without being logged in to your own account? If you’ve tried any of the above, you’ll might be pretty surprised to learn that you are sharing more than you need to. Take some time to look at your Social Media account security settings and try to tighten things up as much as possible. Information that is not relevant to others should not be made available as this can easily be used against you.
You must also be extra careful when sharing information about your location. There is no need let anyone know that you won’t be home during any particular period. There is no need to share the current location that you are in either. Social Media is a great tool to be in contact with friends and family but we should take care not to allow this freedom to backfire. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of how Social Media has been to taken to extremes and so, when too much is shared, our safety and that of our friends and family might be placed in jeopardy.
It cannot be stresses enough how important it is to protect our online world. Since we live very much in a virtual world, it might be more difficult to understand what is happening in the background, but you can be sure that there is a whole other world out there that is not only inhabited by malicious hackers but from anyone interested in gaining any type of information about you that can be used for monetary or personal gain. A recent film called ‘Snowden’ gives a good picture of some of the things this articles points towards. If you have not seen it, I recommend you do!
Ryan Mintoff works at Deloitte Malta in Information Technology and Security. For more information, please visit http://www.deloitte.com/mt