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12 Security Resolutions for 2013

PCWorld Staff | Jan. 7, 2013
Among your typical New Year's resolutions--lose weight, stop smoking, be happier--you should consider making some pledges to better secure your digital life. You might even be healthier if you can prevent the stress of a digital disaster, like malware wiping out your PC, having your online accounts hacked, or becoming a victim of identify theft because of a phishing scam or data theft. With that in mind, here are some security resolutions you should consider for the new year.

Perform PC security checks

You should periodically perform a through security check of your PC. Antivirus is a must-have, but it doesn't detect all vulnerabilities. It doesn't always check for missing security updates for Windows, and for vulnerable applications like Abode Reader and Flash, Java, and your Web browser. And they usually don't analyze your passwords to detect weak ones. See our previous story, Beyond antivirus software: Eclectic PC security tools for system-wide audits, for what you can do to tighten your PC's security.

Encrypt your laptop

A Windows password prevents the average Joe from booting up your computer and accessing your files and personal documents, but it can easily be removed or bypassed. A thief or snooper could remove the hard drive, connect it to another computer, and access your files that way. Or they could use a special CD to remove your Windows password and then be able to log into your Windows account.

Since a laptop can be easily lost or stolen, it's a good idea to encrypt your entire hard drive, which prevents someone from removing or bypassing your password. Check out our tutorial to learn how to go about it.

Encrypt your USB drives

External USB and flash drives are easy to lose, and all someone has to do is plug them into their computer to access your files. With that in mind, if you ever transfer or store any sensitive documents on external drives, you should consider encrypting them, which requires you to enter a password before you can get at your files. You can buy drives that come encrypted or you can encrypt any drive yourself. Whatever route you go, it's best to use those with 256-bit AES encryption. Also, consider buying those carrying the government-standard "FIPS 140-2 Level 2" or higher certification.

Secure your social network accounts

If you aren't taking on social networks seriously, it's only a matter of time before you get taken by malicious links and social apps that try to steal your personal information or money, or spread spam. And that doesn't even include the privacy issues in play--you probably don't want your employer to see all your personal life. So consider securing your social network security and privacy settings. Take a close look at the security and privacy settings for the social networks you use; learn what each of the settings mean, and adjust them as you see fit.

Also, think about using a security app to help catch threats and keep up with the latest threats via sites like Facecrooks. Some current security suites, like Trend Micro's, include features that will check your Facebook privacy settings, and offer suggestions for improving your privacy.

 

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