5 Online Safety Resolutions for the New Year

Jan 1, 2013 9:00am

Happy New Year!

One of our goals at the National Cyber Security Alliance is to empower people with tools and resources to stay safer online. So we’ve created a list of five, easy New Year’s resolutions so that everyone can have a safe and secure 2013.

And we promise, these won’t be nearly as hard as losing those extra pounds!  

Resolution  #1: Keep a Clean Machine

This resolution rings especially true for anyone who got a new computer, tablet, smartphone or gaming device this holiday season!

All Internet-connected devices need protection from malware. Having the latest software, web browser, operating system and anti-virus protection are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

An easy way to remember to do this is by enabling automatic updates. Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.

Keep a Clean Machine (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Resolution #2: Connect with Care  

Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re in a coffee shop, hotel, or maybe an airport. You see there’s free Wifi available, so you connect on your phone or computer. You check email, maybe log onto a social network.  It may be convenient, but you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to hackers and at risk of identity theft.

Instead, make a resolution to get savvy about Wifi hotspots. If you’re on an unsecured network, limit the type of business you do (in other words, don’t do anything that requires logging in with a username and password or entering personal information). It’s also a good idea to adjust the security settings to limit who can access your device.

Get Savvy About Wifi Hotspots (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Resolution #3: When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

We know this applies to expired food in your fridge, but it’s a good cyber hygiene tip, too.

Links in email, tweets, social media posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete it, mark as junk mail or just ignore it.

When In Doubt, Throw it Out! (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)


Resolution #4: Own Your Online Presence

Did you know you don’t have to rely on default settings on social networking websites?

This New Year, make sure you set privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. If you’ve done this in the past, double check your settings to make sure they’re still right for you. There may also be new options available.

Remember, it’s okay to limit how and with whom you share information.

Own Your Online Presence (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Resolution #5: Protect Your Personal Information

When banking and shopping, check to be sure the website is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

If you’re shopping from a mobile device, remember that a 3G/4G connection is safer than shopping over an unsecured Wifi connection. (But you already knew that from Resolution #2, right?)

Dog Wifi (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

You can get more online safety tips and advice by visiting our Stay Safe Online section and at www.stopthinkconnect.org

The National Cyber Security Alliance and STOP. THINK. CONNECT. wish everyone a safe and secure 2013!