By Tracey Dowdy
Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. Year after year we fall into the “new year, new me” trap. We convince ourselves that the motivation we feel on January 1st will be enough to carry us through to December 31st. Yeah. That ain’t happening. Habits are hard to break and your brain doesn’t distinguish between good and bad habits.
In reality, what most of us need is the promise of immediate results. These resolutions for the technology in your life deliver just that. You’ll have the satisfaction of a job well done and the peace of mind knowing your digital identity is secure.
Back up your data. Think about how many irreplaceable photos, videos, documents, music files and other personal information is stored on your devices. For instructions on backing up your PC follow this link. To back up your Mac, click here.
Curate your digital footprint. How many online profiles have you created over the years? Your old MySpace page, online shopping accounts, profiles, or groups you’ve joined and lost interest in over the years. Face it, most of us have left a pretty messy trail across the web, especially those of us around in the early days before we realized how vulnerable we were making ourselves. Audit, delete, or deactivate old accounts and make a habit of curating any new accounts you create going forward.
Make sure all devices have the most recent updates. Remember, those updates aren’t just about the latest features or faster speeds. A big part of every update is the patches to cover security gaps that make you vulnerable for identity theft or privacy violations.
Use a password manager. Keeping track of passwords is a bit of a Catch-22 situation. To be safe, you need a variety of different, complex passwords for your online profiles and accounts. To keep track, you may be tempted to write them down, use the same one repeatedly or choose ones that are easy to remember. Oops. Now you aren’t safe anymore and you’re back to where you started. Instead, use a password management tool like Dashlane or LastPass to keep track for you. Wired Magazine has a list of the best free password managers here.
Remember, you are the weakest link. Posting without discretion on social media, opening suspicious emails, sharing without reading the whole article or checking the source, using the same password for every account, providing your credit card information on unsecure sites…there’s no software that can compete with all of that.
Take control once and for all. Be mindful that everything you post impacts your digital reputation and leaves a digital footprint. Potential employers, academic institutions evaluating for scholarships, even future in-laws have access to whatever you’ve left behind online. According to Harvard Business Review, more than 75 percent of companies and recruiters search your online presence and 70 percent have decided not to hire a candidate based on what they’ve found. Three Minute Coach has some great tips on managing your online presence here.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.