Digital New Year’s Resolutions for Safe Internet Use

The New Year is traditionally the time that we aim to make positive changes to our behaviour. But online security and digital safety is often something that small business owners forget about. So make 2017 the year where you improve your safety online with these digital New Year’s resolutions.

Cyber security tips for 2017

Understand your social media privacy policies

There are still many small business owners who don’t really understand the privacy settings for their social media profiles. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and others have a range of different options relating to who can see your posts, photos and actions and it’s worth taking advantage of these settings to keep your profile secure from prying eyes.

For many people, the automatic Facebook settings allow anyone to view your profile but you have the option to it impossible for anyone to view other than your friends. Take the time to go through the policies and amend them so that they suit you.

Backup your documents and photos

Be honest with yourself – how often do you backup your files? Many people never take the time to make copies of their important documents and save them in other locations. Alas, this also holds true for small business owners.

But even in 2017, making a backup is essential.

Any files that are saved on your computer and nowhere else are at serious risk if your computer ever suffers problems. The truth is it’s easier than ever to back up your files – utilise the cloud or even simply email important files to yourself to save them on your email server.

Keep software up to date

We’re all guilty of seeing that updates are required by the operating system or antivirus software, and simply putting it off. Unfortunately while this may save you a little time in the short term it can add up to serious problems later on. Hackers and cyber criminals are most able to exploit weaknesses in out of date software and the prey on people who get left behind because they don’t take the time to update.

So whenever you get a notification telling you that you’ll need to shut down your computer for the updates to take place – spend ten minutes doing something else and enjoy peace of mind.

Use a stronger password

Is your password really as strong as it should be? Hopefully you’re not still using ‘password123’ or ‘enter’, but even those passwords that we might believe are strong may not be strong enough. As cyber criminals become more sophisticated it’s up to us to make sure that we stay ahead of the game.

Your password is incorrect
photo credit: Lulu Hoeller

Current advice is to ensure that your password is at least 10 characters long and uses a mixture of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols. It’s also worth noting that you should have more than one password – this will mean that if one account is compromised the others won’t also be vulnerable.

Consolidate your email addresses

While it is a good idea to have several passwords to help keep your accounts secure, it’s a bad idea to have multiple business or personal email addresses. If you don’t keep up to date with all of your email accounts it can be possible for you to be hacked without your knowledge, leaving the criminals free to gain access to other accounts before you can do anything to stop them.

Try to consolidate any email accounts that you have so that all of your emails come into one place. If you absolutely need to have multiple accounts make sure that you access them very regularly and stay on top of them.