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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.

Sign up for online backups

You probably know that you should create a backup of your computer's hard drive, just in case. But what happens if your backup disk goes bad? Using an online backup service is a good way to protect your most valuable documents, just in case double-disaster strikes and both your hard drive and backup go dead, or both are destroyed in a diaster. There are plenty of services out there, and some antivirus companies provide online backup services for their customers.

That said, security practices can vary between online storage providers. Check out our overview of online storage security for some providers with stringent security practices.

Install a two-way firewall

A firewall helps block hackers from being able to access your computer via the Internet and local network by controlling what traffic can pass through. Windows comes with a firewall, but by default it only monitors incoming traffic. To help catch malware or other malicious applications from sending data from your computer, the firewall needs to also monitor your outgoing traffic. If you use an all-in-one security suite like Norton Internet Security or McAfee Internet Security, you likely already have a two-way firewall. But if you don't, consider using standalone two-way firewall like those from ZoneAlarm or Comodo.

Use OpenDNS for content filtering

An Internet content filter is a great idea regardless of whether you have youngsters in the home. In addition to blocking adult and other inappropriate sites, OpenDNS can help block virus-spreading sites and other dangerous corners of the Internet. Best of all, the basic-level OpenDNS service is free and you can apply it both to individual computers or to your entire network.

Check your Wi-Fi security

If your Wi-Fi network isn't encrypted--that is, if you don't have to enter a password when connecting--anyone nearby can connect to the network and intercept your Internet traffic. To keep unauthorized users off your network, you'll want to make your wireless router in your home is set up with wireless security: Wi-Fi Protect Access (WPA or WPA2).

To check if your wireless router is secured bring up the list of available wireless networks in Windows. Those that aren't encrypted will have a warning indicator next to them and those that are will show the security type when you hover your mouse pointer over the network names. If yours isn't secured refer to the manual that came with your router for instructions on how to turn on encryption.

 

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