A new year has just begun. And if you’re like many of us, you may already be well on your way to forgetting any New Year’s resolutions you made during an evening of revelry.
But when it comes to your life with technology, a sobering fact remains: bad habits can cost you. The good news: it’s never too late to protect your data, your privacy, and your security. Here are some New Year’s technology resolutions that will help you achieve a carefree 2011 with technology.
These days, there’s little excuse for not backing up your data in multiple ways. You need to look at multiple types of backups in part because they’re available and in part because any single type of backup can let you down. In short, for important data, you need backups of backups.
Start with traditional backup. Two terabyte (TB) hard drives now retail for around $80. Pair one of those with a USB 3.0 external enclosure, or install one into your existing desktop, and you’ll probably have more than enough space to schedule daily backups of everything on your PC.
But don’t stop there. You should have multiple copies of your mission-critical files, and there’s no better solution to creating a second or third backup than by using one of the many online backup services today.
Mozy, Carbonite, Backblaze, Amazon S3, iDrive, Norton Online Backup, and SOS Online Backup are some of the most highly rated services. Most of these are “set it and forget it” services which run continuously in the background to back up your files.
If like millions of others around the world, you now call Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or Bebo your home, make sure you’re not inadvertently letting the world see your dirty laundry.
Too many social networking users post personal or potentially embarrassing photographs or information about themselves and fail to use the privacy setting available in Facebook and other networking sites to determine what others can – and cannot – see.
Remember that by default, many social networking sites are designed to make finding your information easy through search engines such as Google.
You might not want that, however, as those who look you up on the internet – including potential employers – might stumble across your social networking site and get the wrong idea about you.
In Facebook, open the Account menu, click Privacy Settings, and spend some time configuring your account.
Each year, a new study comes out to confirm a tired old fact: most people use the same password for everything. And those passwords are not secure. The most popular passwords from one recent poll conducted by RockYou.com: “123456″, “password”, and “iloveyou”, followed by an array of first names.
Make 2011 the year you get serious about password security. After all, your passwords are probably the only thing between you, your financial data and credit cards, and some hacker.
The highly rated, free LastPass toolbar integrates unobtrusively with every major browser and makes short work of both creating and remembering your passwords.
“Phishing” refers to the practice of trying to procure from you account information, personal identifying information, or anything else that scammers can use to try to gain access to your money.
Phishing attacks come in all forms: e-mail messages that look like they come from legitimate financial institutions, requesting that you log on to your account; phone calls that appear to be from official agencies, again requesting sensitive personal information; websites that redirect you to other sites, where applications are surreptitiously installed on your PC in an effort to extract account information.
In 2011, do not respond to any external request that you log on to your bank account or provide account information verbally or by e-mail. If you have a question about whether a request is legitimate, call the institution in question to verify that you were contacted.
In addition, make sure you’re using a full-featured anti-virus application and be sure that the virus signatures are up to date.
If you carry data around with you, as many do on USB sticks, secure that data with encryption. Otherwise, anyone can plug in your stick and read what’s on that drive. Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise come standard with BitLocker. For everyone else, there’s the free, open-source TrueCrypt.
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