Column: Resolve to protect your data

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Commentary by Feras Mash

So, here we are in a new decade. Many of us have resolutions to keep and a new quality of life to create, so  in keeping with the theme, here are some thoughts on new year’s tech resolutions:

  • Be mindful of what you click. We’re all tempted to click on those links on websites or within emails, articles and especially search results, but how can you be assured those links are not malicious and end up causing serious problems such as identity theft and data breaches? If you’re not sure about that link, don’t click on it. If you’re on a web page or in a Google search results listing, always hover your mouse over the link before you click on it to see if the URL matches what the search result shows so you’ll be directed to the correct site. I also recommend always accessing secure sites that start with HTTPS. Those guarantee the user proper access to valid websites.
  • Password maintenance is key. We always recommend changing critical passwords on a regular basis, every 90 days or so, using complex words that are not easily guessed, such as using upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. These include passwords for banking, email, credit cards, shopping sites, education and any personal sites that you deem important to you. We also highly recommend turning on two-factor authentication, or 2FA, if the sites allow it so you’re 99 percent sure your accounts will not easily be hacked.
  • Be mindful of your emails. Email links and attachments are the main avenues for cyber criminals to get access to systems, so be cautious with which email attachments and links you receive and click. Cyber criminals have been getting better at disguising their emails as legitimate. Always pause and think, is this truly a legitimate request from my friend or family? Does it seem fishy? Should I call them or email them back first and make sure they sent me that email? Sometimes old-fashioned thinking before you click will help avert disasters.
  • Take inventory of devices. Check to see which devices are connected to services such as Google, Apple IDs, banking, subscriptions through PayPal and other financial sites. For example, check out iTunes and your Apple ID and see which devices are linked to them and deauthorize any old devices. Also, check your banking site and PayPal subscriptions and make sure those are still valid so you’re not paying for things you don’t need anymore.
  • Don’t skip updates, and be sure to clean up your devices. Check devices such as laptops, desktops, phones and tablets and make sure all the latest updates and O/S upgrades are installed. Also, go through apps on your computers and phones and uninstall and remove any old or unused apps and software which would free up space and remove any unneeded processes that may bog down your devices.
  • Back up your data. We’ve always stressed the importance of data backups, and that should be something that is done daily and checked at least weekly to make sure your backups are active and current and your subscriptions are not expired.

Begin the new year fresh and commit to better cybersecurity and safe computing. Good luck, and may the new year bring you much joy and cyber happiness.




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