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As we wrap up 2021, you may wonder what your New Year’s resolution should be. Historically, people lean towards improving their health, learning a new skill, or traveling to new places. But what good is posting your weight loss online or storing your vacation pictures without knowing how to do so safely?  

Every day, there’s a news story about people’s social media accounts getting hacked, cyber criminals acquiring stolen photos, and personal data being compromised. Most of the time, these situations could have been avoidable. Whether it’s watching Netflix on a smart TV or having a fridge with a panel for news and the weather updates (Who goes to a fridge to check the news?), there’s a direct correlation between increasing IoT ownership and rising cyber attacks.

If this has happened to you or you fear it will, here are some easy goals to set for strengthening your online safety. It’s not like there’s a rule that limits how many resolutions you can have, right?  

  1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) anywhere you possibly can.  
  2. Update your software when recommended (and don’t procrastinate!)—double points for changing your IoT device settings to automatically update itself wherever possible. 
  3. Go through your online accounts and change your passwords to passphrases. Also, ensure that you don’t reuse passwords. Generally, passwords should be at least eight characters long with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. If you’re worried about keeping track of your passwords, a password manager will keep everything stored securely and even autofill for you. 
  4. Connect securely whenever possible. This is especially important when working on public Wi-Fi. Connecting through a virtual private network (VPN) is the best approach, and there are plenty of free online resources to help you set this up. 
  5. Store important assets in secure locations. This is especially useful for confidential documents or photo storage. Whether your drug of choice is Google Drive or Dropbox, I highly recommend reading the user agreements for them, as some of these services state that they own the rights to your content for advertising purposes. 

These are great ways to keep your information secure in a world full of cyber criminals. The best part? They’re all really straightforward. Establishing these habits will make you more fun and have a safer internet experience.  

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