Remember those futuristic films that we used to watch where people walked into their homes, and their homes spoke to them, turned on the lights and started the kettle? It seemed so far off, so advanced. Yet now we have the Internet of Things, voice-controlled assistants and even control our homes from our smartphones.
But all this connectivity seems to come at a price – there are now more ways than ever for our information to be stolen, viruses to gain access or people to impersonate us. We need tech in our wallets to stop people stealing from contactless cards and biometric data to secure our phones.
Staying safe online remains a big issue, whether on a smartphone, a desktop or even with voice-controlled assistants like Alexa or Siri. To help you, here are the top New Year online resolutions you should consider setting to help reduce the chance you fall foul of the many dangers in our wonderful new connected world.
NEW YEAR ONLINE RESOLUTIONS FOR 2020
Here are some of the online resolutions we will use in 2020, and that would be worth adding to your list of ambitions for the New Year.
I will do a social media clean-up on all my accounts.
Set yourself some time when there is nothing else on the calendar and start going through your social media accounts. The idea is to look at what you see if as if you were someone else, a stranger or a friend.
For starters, what setting do you have on your account? Can anyone view your profile or do you have restrictions in place? While this is a personal preference, a public profile can be seen by anyone, and you might not want that if you have family photos, pictures of your house or other similar personal information on show.
Take a look at your accounts and the settings. You may spot things you might not want to be there anymore. Adjust the settings, remove photos and even unfriend people if you don’t want them to see your information.
I will change my passwords (and make them tough).
Saving or remembering passwords is a pain, and that is why we often use the same one on multiple sites, but this makes us very vulnerable to hackers and cyber-criminals. So, another excellent online resolution for the New Year is to go through and change passwords and make sure they are tough.
A strong password should:
• Have 12 characters or more
• Use numbers, capital and lowercase letters and symbols such as ! or ?
• Be a word not found in the dictionary or a combination of words
• Not an obvious substitution such as using 0 in place of ‘o’
This kind of password can be challenging to remember and even to type, but you can get some great free online password apps that hold all of your data under a single master password that you need to remember. Phones and browsers can also save information if they are secure.
I will check that everyone in the house has tough passwords too.
Once you have changed your passwords and made sure they are strong and tough to guess, do the same for everyone else in the household. Start with ensuring people protect devices with a personal identification number (PIN) – this is a backup even if the device has biometric features in case you need to access it.
Make sure it is challenging to get into a device with those stored passwords, photos and personal information, especially for the younger members of the family who are less security conscious.
I will chat with the family about online safety.
Kids, in particular, are vulnerable to the dangers of the online world, and that is why it is essential to consider having a conversation with them about online safety as part of your New Year resolutions.
Set out some online rules or best practices if this works better. Talk about never giving out passwords, clicking the links in emails or messages and being careful about who you give friend status to on social media – as they can see all of your profile. While the aim is not to scare them into not using the Internet, it is best to be armed with information so they can protect themselves.
It can also be an excellent time to talk about online use in general. If you have household rules such as no phones at the dinner table or no online activity an hour before bed, go over these. Also, talk about why these things are important to show they aren’t just random rules!
I will support local businesses and be a good online citizen.
We often focus on the negative about the online world, but there are lots of positives. One example is the ability to support local businesses by leaving reviews and positive feedback. These things make a big difference to businesses as more people than ever check sites like Trip Advisor or look at the reviews on Facebook.
Rather than only leaving negative mentions, set a resolution to take a moment to review the positive experiences. Tell a local restaurant the food was delicious or the local pub that the entertainment was top class. Be honest but don’t forget, positive experiences help people as much as negative ones.
BE SAFE ONLINE
2019 was an eventful year, to say the least with the constant changes and challenges. From Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal to Instagram hiding likes and the growth of new platforms like TikTok, there are lots to consider and new issues to face. But there are also a lot of positives from the online world with the continued development of IoT one example of how it can make life easier.
By setting these or similar online resolutions for 2020, you can enjoy the best of the online world while also protecting yourself and your family. And don’t forget, you can send in your questions about any of these areas as we are always happy to chat online about security and help you stay safe while on the Internet!
If you have any questions about this article or would like additional tips and tricks or information. Don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]!
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