From identity theft to online scams to just plain being tech lazy–2013 got a lot of us in trouble. If you got through 2013 without a single virus, being scammed, or if you didn’t suffer a catastrophic hardware issue, then consider yourself lucky. We’ve listed our top tech resolutions you should follow to make this year more secure and productive for you.
Feel The Need For Speed
There’s nothing more frustrating than a slow computer. Start the new year out right. Consider backing up your computer and reinstalling your Operating System. If that seems a bit drastic, consider upgrading your RAM. If you have a 32-bit Windows installation, max it out to 4 Gigs of RAM. If you’re running 64-bit, consider upgrading your RAM to 8 or 16 Gigs.
To see whether you have 32 or 64 bit installed, right-click My Computer (or Computer) and then select Properties. You should see what version of Windows you’re running. If it doesn’t specifically say 64-bit, then you have a 32-bit OS installed.
In addition to RAM, add a super fast sold-state hard drive. SSDs have extremely fast load times, do not suffer from disk fragmentation and will increase the overall performance of your machine. Find Solid state hard drives here.
Update Or Remove Old Software
If your computer is more than a year old, chances are you have a lot of outdated and insecure software running on your system. Less and less bad guys are looking to break into computers that do not have the latest Windows updates because Microsoft has done a great job in making sure newer computers update automatically. It’s software like Java and Adobe that might not automatically update that you need to worry about. Update any software you haven’t used in a while or uninstall them from your computer if not in use.
Secunia is a great free tool to use to help find and keep track of software running on your system. Read more about Secunia here.
Add Passwords To Mobile Devices
You do you taxes on your laptop. Your entire life is on your phone or tablet. Yet you do not have a password setup to log-in to your device. Ask yourself what would happen if you lost your phone, tablet or laptop and it didn’t require a password to log-in. Would you want complete strangers having access to all of that data? Take a moment today to add passwords to your mobile devices.
Change Your Passwords
If you’re the type of person that uses the same password for multiple websites, or if you haven’t changed your email or computer password in ages, then now is the perfect time to re-think your password strategy. Having complex passwords is important, but using the same password for every site is extremely dangerous. Instead, use a password manager like LastPass to create difficult and unique passwords for every site you visit. All you need to remember is a single LastPass password–it does the rest. Read more about how to setup LastPass here.
Backup Your Files
Backing up can be a chore. Most of us don’t find the time to backup and before we know it the computer has crashed and the drive is toast. In order for you to have a reliable backup strategy, you need to make it as easy as possible for yourself. So here’s how: Buy a Network Attached Storage device such as the WD My Book Live 2TB NAS and then install the free program FBackup on your computers.
FBackup is a great set-it-and-forget-it program that is easy to configure. Tell it what folders to copy, tell it when to copy them, and then specify the NAS as the destination drive. Done.
Activate Device Locator Software
If your phone has GPS, then likely there is a way to track its whereabouts in case it ever gets lost or stolen. We recommend Lookout for the iPhone and Android. In addition to being a phone locator, Lookout scans new apps to make sure they are safe when downloading. In addition to being able to find your phone, it has remote wipe and lock features that can turn your phone into a useless brick in the hands of thieves.
Be More Diligent
There are cyber-criminals everywhere. Your email is under constant assault, they are calling you on the phone and now even hacking into the credit card processing centers of major brick and mortar retailers. Mitigate your damages. Carry fewer cards on you, be wary of links in emails and do not fall prey to phone scams like this one.
Don’t Text Or Talk On The Phone While Driving
There’s an app for that. If your initial response to your phone ringing or buzzing from a text is to immediately reach down and grab it, then you have a problem. Your problem can get you or others killed.
These apps turn off text and phone notifications when the car reaches a certain speed, allowing you or your teen to drive without temptation.
In conclusion, we all need to stay ahead of the game as technology advances and security vulnerabilities impact our lives. If you have recommendations of your own, please share them below or in our forums.