New Year Tech's Resolutions: Best Digital Practices for 2013

by News Editor on January 4th, 2013 in Industry and Security News.

Losing weight and quitting smoking are resolutions most of us don't keep through January. You can definitely do better in 2013.

There are ways to improve your online security, PC hardware performance and even financial bottom line that require little vigilance and just a few mouse clicks. We have compiled some tips to help you achieve your cyber security new year resolution.

From Network World

1.      Change your passwords.

There’s lots of research to indicate that most people use simple passwords or choose one strong password and use it all the time. Neither one of these practices is safe. As you access your on-line accounts this January, change every password, use a string of 7-10 characters, and make each one unique. Henceforth, repeat this process often depending upon the value of the account. While this is a good best practice, don’t believe for a second that you are protected as the whole user name/password model is extremely vulnerable and due for some type of replacement.

2.      Change your security software settings. 

Assuming that you are running an Internet security software on your system. Go into the system settings and check your protection level. In many cases, security software provides three options (low, medium, and high), with medium being the default. Change this setting to high or whatever other label your security software vendor uses for maximum protection. Many people believe that this maximum setting will slow system performance but if your PC is 2 years old or newer, you shouldn’t notice a difference.

3.        Explore other software security options.

I’ve found that most users really never look at the capabilities built into their Internet security software. This is a crying shame and it leaves users far more vulnerable than they could be. Security software from vendors like Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro (amongst others) have built-in features for things like proactive defense, password management/storage, virtual keyboards, automated malware quarantine, etc. Take the time to see what options are available and start using those that will enhance protection without getting in your way.

4.        Delete old software.

PCs, smart phones, and tablets are just about the only things we buy that come loaded with stuff we don’t want and will never use. Most people just ignore this garbage on their systems but stale software could be vulnerable to an attack. Take the time to get rid of it.

5.       Manage the Windows white flag.

If you are using Windows 7 (and perhaps Vista though I’m not sure), there is a little white flag icon on the bottom right of your system. When you mouse over it, it says, ‘solve PC issues.’ When you see this flag, take the time to remediate these problems. It’s not there by accident.

6.       Explore system utilities and security add-ons.

In addition to seeing what features you already have in your security software, you may want to add some additional capabilities. For example, registry cleaners can help detect rogue registry settings that may indicate the presence of malware. Note that they won’t clean up the malware but they may delete a registry key that the malware depends upon. You may also want to look at browser sandboxing tools and evaluate some Advanced Malware Detection/Prevention (AMD/P) endpoint security tools from vendors like Invincea, Malwarebytes, and Sourcefire. These tools are generally used in work environments but some vendors offer consumer versions as well.


From PC World

1.       Ring in the New Year with Windows 8

2012 was the year in which Windows 8 launched, but most of us will be using the OS for the first time in 2013. If you're installing Windows 8 on an old PC,  you're going to want to prep that system first for a successful upgrade. For those new to Windows 8, here is what you need to know to get started using the OS, along with tips and tricks such as adding a Start button.


2.       Play it safe in 2013

Security will matter even more in 2013, as malware threats will only continue to rise into next year. Of course, PC security should always be top of mind, but who couldn't use a refresher on how to protect one's digital bacon? You'll need helpful advice on avoiding poor passwords, tips on mobile protection for tablets and smartphones, and a tutorial on encrypting data stored in the cloud.


3.        Resolve to spend less

Gadget collecting is an expensive habit, so saving here and there can add up. One big drain on your wallet comes from good, old-fashioned printing. There are plenty of ways to print what you need without having to take out a second mortgage. For starters, a host of printers sip ink, saving you money, instead of guzzling expensive ink and sending you to the poor house.
You can also shave dollars off your electric bill by de-fanging gadgets such as game consoles, PCs, and plasma TVs—all relative vampires when it comes to sucking down power.

4.       Best Digital Practices

We know we sound like a digital mom each year, nagging you to backup your PCs. The good news in 2013, for all you procrastinators, is there are a number of new cloud backup options that make it easy and free (albeit sometimes with a catch) to protect your data from fire, flood, theft, and other localized disasters.
But why stop with data backup when it comes to computer best practices? Tuning up your laptop and de-gunking it of both digital and physical crud will make it run faster. For your PC, there are over 50 tools to download from PCWorld for putting some zip into a lagging system. And if you've resolved to use Windows 7 for a another year or so, you'll want to make sure your system is still optimized for the OS and you are up to speed with all the latest performance tips.