Another year has come and gone, and it’s time once again to make your New Year’s Resolutions. While you have probably thought about resolving to losing weight or saving money, you probably haven’t thought of resolving to make your life more secure. Security is a top priority these days, but it seems that not many people know how to actually make their lives more secure.
Below are a few tips to help you make your home and online presence more secure. (These tips are to help you protect yourself from identity theft. If your identity has already been stolen, visit this blog to help you recover your security.)
Secure Your Home
Securing your home against burglary is quite simple. Your goal is not to make your house impervious to attacks, rather make it look less attractive to potential burglars. Of course, you should always lock your doors and windows, but read on for additional tips to help you secure your home.
Make it look like your home is secure
Burglars are going to choose homes that look like easy targets. This means that they will go for homes that are dark, vacant, and have a lot of hiding places. Install a motion sensor floodlight that kicks on, alerting people that something is happening. Don’t plant shrubs or bushes right next to the door, as it is easy to hide behind them. Avoid putting glass next to the doorknob on decorative doors. Even if you put up a fake camera, it looks like your home is being monitored, dissuading burglars from attempted entry.
Hide your valuables
Don’t allow your valuables to be seen, even if you are home. If you have a nice car, make sure that you keep it in the garage. If you have a big, flatscreen TV in the living room, keep your blinds closed. When you leave, make sure you close your blinds as well as locking up to avoid broadcasting what is up for grabs in your home. If you recently got something expensive that came in a big box, hide it in your trash. Burglars often look drive through neighborhoods looking at people’s trash cans to see what there is to steal, so don’t give them any bait.
Dogs make a lot of noise when someone comes to the door, as annoying as it is. Small yappers are just as intimidating to a burglar as a large dog, as the noise attracts attention. If you are not a dog person, consider getting a bird instead. If you have a dog or cat door is secure, as someone could break in through that small entry.
Don’t advertise who protects your home
If you have a sign that says “Protected by ___,” you should get rid of it immediately. Knowing what system is protecting your house allows intruders to know exactly how to disarm your security system. Get a generic sticker instead.
Get rid of your spare house key
Burglars know the typical hiding places for spare keys: under your mat, under a fake rock, in the mailbox, in the flower bed, etc. Instead of hiding your key in the typical places, give it to a trusted neighbor. If you’re afraid that they won’t be home, do a key swap; hide their key in your yard, and hide your key in theirs.
Secure Your Internet Life
You need to secure your internet life just as strictly as you would your home. If someone hacks into your email, they can easily access your banking information, credit card information, and more. Use the tips below to secure your internet life.
Use complicated passwords
Simple passwords, like those that only contain letters or are a word, are easy to hack. Make your passwords more secure by adding capital letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not use the same password across sites. A good way to make an easy to remember but secure password is to make a password based on the first letter of every word in a phrase, and adding numbers and special characters along the way. For example “I love my four kids, the dog is a child too” can become “ILm4ktDi@c2!” While that looks very complicated, it is easy to remember because it is based on a phrase. You can also use a password manager to create unique password for each website that you can access with one master password.
Disconnect from the internet
If your router is “always on” you should consider shutting down your internet when you go to bed, and various times throughout the day. Hackers are deterred by sporadic internet, and will be less likely to try to hack your connection. However, more and more appliances require constant internet connection (even some refrigerators!), so this tip may not be practical.
Update your software
Hackers are constantly trying to find ways to infiltrate computers and phones, and they have found that the best way to do it is through the software. Adobe is a common target, but other software such as Apple, Mozilla, etc. are often attacked. Each new update protects you and your computer from recent threats. Install updates as soon as possible.
Use a firewall and antivirus software
You should have a firewall on your computer (most computers come with them nowadays), but if you don’t have one, get one immediately. Make sure that you also have adequate and up-to-date antivirus software installed on your computer. There are many free and almost-free options that will secure your computer without damaging your pocket book. You should install antivirus software on your phone as well, especially if you have an Android phone.
Remember, as you are setting your New Year’s Resolutions to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-Sensitive. So instead of just resolving to make your life more secure, create a plan of how you will make your life more secure, when you want to accomplish it by, and how you will measure whether or not you accomplished your goals.
Good luck with your New Year’s Resolutions and thanks for reading!
Comment below as to what you do to keep your life secure.