Happy New Year! 2015 is here, and along with its arrival come New Year’s resolutions – those vows to be better next year than we were this year. What resolutions are you making for the new year? We hope you’ll include these tech resolutions for yourself – and your small business – in 2015.
Use Strong Passwords
Data breaches were big news in 2014, and a strong password is the first defense against those who want to hack your accounts and steal your personal and professional data. What makes a strong password? Follow these four tips:
Length. A good password is at least eight characters long, but 12 is better. Passwords of four and six letters are too easy to crack.
Obscurity. Don’t use real words. Your password should not be a word you could look up in a dictionary. Also, avoid personal information like your name, family and friends’ names, pets’ names, street names, etc. And don’t use the username for the account for which you’re creating the password.
Numbers. A good password should mix numbers, letters (lower and capital), and special characters (more on this below). Don’t use numbers that have a meaning to you, including birthdays (yours or that of someone close to you), anniversaries, addresses, phone numbers, and account numbers.
Punctuation. Use special characters -- like punctuation marks -- in your password. A good rule of thumb is The Geek Stuff’s “8 4 Rule.” That is, your password is eight characters long and contains at least one character from each of these categories: Uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number, and special character (like, *, &, !, #, etc.). Better yet, they say? Use five of these different types of characters.
For more tips on creating passwords, read our blog post, “Tips for Creating Strong Passwords.”
Once you’ve got a strong set of passwords, you’re not done. Stay on top of data breaches and security news (follow this blog and our Facebook page!), and change your password when a website, app, or account you use could be compromised.
Back Up Your Files
When disaster strikes – whether it be a computer hacking, a weather event, or a crashed computer – the last thing you want to worry about is replacing your data. Make 2015 the year you make a plan for backing up your data, both personal and business. Your family photos are just as important as your business files.
You have many options for backing up your data – from removable disks to cloud storage – but the best solution is the one you’ll actually do. No matter which method you choose, these suggestions remain the same:
- Back up regularly. Get yourself on a regular schedule or schedule them to happen automatically.
- Make sure your backup option has enough space for your files.
- Your backup solution should be stored in a separate place from your computer, preferable someplace fireproof.
- Be consistent with your file naming and organization system. Do it once, and you’ll never have to spend time reorganizing your files or searching for something you need.
Stay Up to Date
Passwords are one step in securing your personal and professional information, but if your operating system, software, and antivirus programs are not up to date, you leave yourself wide open to attack. Take the time this January to update your software and then resolve to keep it that way. The easiest way is to allow automatic updates, but if you’d rather do it by hand, set reminders for yourself to search for updates.
Not sure if you’re up to date? Want us to check? We’re happy to evaluate your computer or network and make recommendations to make you more secure. We can even help you manage updates. Contact us for more information.
Don’t Text and Drive
We hope you’ve already made this last resolution because we like you – we really like you. And if you’re still texting or surfing the web while driving, make 2015 the year you break the habit. Distracted driving is dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes in 2012. We can break that cycle if we all resolve to focus on the road. The slogan “It can wait” hits the nail right on the head – no text message or status update is worth your life or anyone else’s.
Tell Us: What tech resolutions are you making for yourself or your business for 2015?