We’re just a few weeks into 2020 and we hope your new year has been off to a great start. If you didn’t make any resolutions around your digital life, it’s not too late to work in some small changes that can make a big difference in your security and peace of mind in the coming year and beyond. Just doing one of the below will help, but you’ll get bonus points if you take on all five!
Back up Your Data
Booting up your personal or work computer and getting an error message such as “hard drive not found” or “hard disk error” can be devastating. With the cloud availability and physical storage at an all-time low price, there isn’t much of an excuse to sweat a hard drive failure. Physical hard drives--whether they are a platter drive or a solid-state drive--are a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off, and absolutely nothing will stop them from eventually failing. So be prepared and follow the 3-2-1 rule of backups.3: Always store at least three copies of important data.
2: Store two copies in two different locations, and on two different formats.
1: Store one copy in the cloud or off-premises.
If you follow these simple rules, you’ll never worry about losing data to a failure.
Remember your data is only as good as the last time you backed it up, so get into the habit of backing it up often.
Be More Skeptical
Did you get an e-mail from an old friend asking for your phone number?
Did you get a purchase order for a large sum of money out of the blue?
Do you have an account that has supposedly suffered a breach?
All of these are examples of recent phishing scams you need to look twice at. But what about other types of scams? Texting scams need to be scrutinized too. Never take any type of electronic communication for granted and be extra cautious of anything you receive asking for feedback or a response. Take a few seconds to look over any email twice and trust that voice of doubt in your head before clicking on any links. Hover over links to determine where they are sending you before you click. Training employees on what to look for is also a great way to insulate your business from getting attacked. A little bit of skepticism can save you a lot of trouble
Set up Two-Factor Authentication on Everything You Can
An account enabled with two-factor (multi-factor) authentication requires two items to log a user in. The first is a password and the second is a code sent to a personal device. Entering this unique code along with the passcode doubly ensures the account is being accessed by the appropriate user.
If you haven’t set this up yet, you’re just asking for trouble. These days nearly every site from Amazon and Google to Microsoft relies on multi-factor authentication and so should you.
Not sure about which solution to use? Google, Microsoft and Authy are all good companies to look into. Although Google is probably the oldest of the bunch and it’s starting to show, you won’t go wrong with any of these options.
Learn more about multi-factor authentication here.
Get a Password Manager and Change Your Passwords on All Your Accounts
Time after time, one of the most common occurrences in data breaches is users not changing default passwords. Many of us don’t ever stop using the default passwords on routers, security devices or IoT devices. This is a terrible idea! Another common thread in breaches is users who only have a single password for multiple accounts. You should never reuse passwords.
We’ve discussed password managers before and as a quick recap, they are an inexpensive or free way to make sure if you do get breached the hacker doesn’t get all your account credentials at once. We use LastPass frequently in the office, but there are many different companies on the market; some have free accounts and some don’t. Either way it’s a lot better than the alternative.
Several password managers also come with multi-factor authentication apps, so if you are going to enroll for one then you might as well do both.
Update Your Software
Microsoft has Patch Tuesday, Apple releases critical bug fixes at least once a quarter, and all other software companies are on one schedule or another for updates. The takeaway from this is that patches are absolutely critical for the security of computers and networks.. Every day, there are groups of hackers around the world actively looking for and exploiting weak points in most operating systems and programs. It’s not a matter of if your system will get breached, it’s a matter of when.
Keep in mind, there are also groups of professional technicians whose jobs are dedicated to searching for these exploits and making sure they get patched before they ever make it out into the wild. You cannot benefit from any of these patches if you don’t update your computer.
Windows and iOS have many different features to delay patches, delay updating while the computer is in use, and temporarily put off updates that might cause a hiccup with your hardware. There really isn’t a good excuse to not have your computer updated with the most recent software. So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t checked on the update status of your operating system, or any software you use, do it ASAP!
Good luck with these resolutions (and any others you’re trying to keep) and here’s to a great 2020!