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As we’re wrapping up 2021, you may be wondering 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?  

It seems like there’s a news story every day 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. This is largely fueled by the internet becoming a part of nearly every task that we do. 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 ever happened to you or fear that 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 all of 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 8 characters long with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. If you’re worried about keeping track of all of your passwords, a password manager will keep everything stored for you 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. 

All of these are great ways to keep your information secure in a world full of cyber criminals. The best part? They’re all really simple to do. Establishing these habits will set you up for a more fun and safer internet experience.  

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