The New Year is upon us, and that means it’s time to make the resolutions that will help you change and improve your life 2012 — a philosophy that applies to everything, including your computer habits. Online security is more important than ever this year (read about our predictions here), and not properly protecting yourself can cause trouble for everything in your life from your finances to your online reputation. So, make sure to include the following resolutions on your 2012 to-do list to make it a good year.
1) Shed Those Extra PC Pounds
Whether you’re eager to clean house or were lucky enough to get a new computer this holiday season, make sure you properly dispose of your old computer to protect your information and the environment. Before getting rid of your PC, you should back up all your important files. After backup, you must completely wipe the hard drive to remove all information (simply deleting files won’t do the trick). Check out the University of Santa Barbara Office of Technology’s tips to help you wipe your hard drive. When all your data has been removed, you can then dispose, reuse, or recycle your PC (the Environmental Protection Agency has a resource center for you to decide where to donate or recycle it). Whatever you do, don’t just chuck your old PC in the trashcan — the components contain toxins that contaminate land.
2) Give Your Security Suite a Makeover
If you’ve been lagging on updating to a current version of your security programs or installing important software such as a two-way firewall and anti-virus, now is the time to make sure everything is up to speed. Everything should be activated, updated, and running regular sweeps to ensure you’re protected against malicious software and hackers.
3) Exercise Your Security Muscles
4) Protect Your Online Banking
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get your finances in order, protecting your online financial information should also be your number one priority. Hackers use a variety of techniques to access your accounts, so make sure you’re protecting them with activated security software and strong passwords — and always follow smart practices (avoid banking online over public Wi-Fi and using banking apps). To be extra safe, invest in a security suite, such as ZoneAlarm’s Extreme Security 2012, that also offers credit monitoring to flag any suspicious activity.
If you make these resolutions now and continue to educate yourself on how to stay safe online, you’re sure to have a happy and malware-free new year.