Pledging to follow healthier habits is consistently the most popular new year’s resolution. That January 1st promise looks different to everyone: snacking less often, going to the gym more often, drinking more water, drinking less soda, etc. This year, instead of a juice cleanse subscription, opt for a healthier habit that’s not an unappetizing shade of green: follow this digital detox, instead! In three easy steps, you can make great strides in improving your digital wellness.
There are various aspects of your digital habits that you should consider updating for a more private and safer online life. For starters, update your passwords. Do you reuse the same password for multiple online accounts? Doing so puts your personally identifiable information (PII) at great risk. For example, if a business with which you have an online shopping account is breached by a cybercriminal, your login and password combination could make it on the dark web, through no fault of your own. Then, through a brute force attack, a criminal could use that same password and username combo to walk into your banking or tax filing accounts.
Remembering unique, complicated passwords and passphrases for your dozens of online accounts would be impossible. Luckily, there’s software that remembers them for you! It’s called a password manager, which acts as a vault for all your login information. Just remember one master password, and you can be confident in the security of your accounts and never have to deal with the hassle of forgetting passwords.
Another aspect of updating you should adopt in 2023 is making an effort to always upgrade to the latest software updates on all your devices. The easiest way to do this is to turn on automatic updates. From there, you don’t need to take any further action! Apps and operating systems (like Apple, Android, and Windows) often release updates to patch security vulnerabilities. When you run outdated software, there’s a chance a cybercriminal could take advantage of that security gap.
Finally, make sure that you keep updated on the latest security headlines. Consider setting up news alerts to notify you when a breach occurs at a company that you frequent or have an account with. Speed is often key in making sure that your information remains safe, so it’s best practice to have your finger on the pulse on the security news of the day.
A new year digital detox can be a whole family affair. Connect with your family, anyone connected to your home network, and your elderly relatives to get everyone on the same page with security best practices. Here are some common online security snags people of all ages encounter:
Social media oversharing.
Everyone has an oversharer on their newsfeed. Alert your family members of the dangers of posting too much about their personal life. When someone takes those “get to know you” quizzes and posts their answers, cybercriminals can use that post to take educated guesses at your passwords. Additionally, social engineers can tailor social media scams to specific people in order to increase the chances of tricking someone into sending money or sharing valuable personal or banking details.
Falling for phishing.
While spam filters catch a lot of phishing emails, phishers are getting smarter by the day and are making their attempts more and more believable. Connect with your loved ones and make sure they know how to recognize phishing emails, texts, and social media direct messages. Telltale signs of a phishing message include:
- Typos and grammar mistakes
- Over-the-top language that makes you feel very angry, sad, or excited
- Harsh consequences for not replying within a short timeframe
- Requests for passwords or Social Security Numbers
- Blurry logos
If you’re ever unsure if a message is a phishing attempt, the best course of action is to just delete it. If the “sender” is a well-known institution, follow up with a phone call using the official customer service number listed on their website. The phisher may also claim to be someone you know personally. In that case, give the loved one in question a phone call. It’s a good excuse to reconnect and have a nice conversation!
Visiting unsafe sites.
In the quest for free streams of the latest new show or movie, people often encounter unsafe sites that hide malware, spyware or other types malicious links and programs. Some types of malware can jump from one device to others connected to the same home Wi-Fi network. That’s why it’s important to make sure everyone under your roof practices excellent digital security habits. One wrong click could sink an entire household. Consider signing up your family for a safe browsing extension that can notify you when you stray onto a risky site. So, instead of putting your device at risk during movie night, connect with your friends or loved ones over one copy of a safely and officially purchased version.
As with any new health regimen, immediately zooming from zero to a hundred will likely be overwhelming and result in failure. The same goes for adopting new digital safety habits. If you try to do too much at once, all the security measures you put in place will likely get in the way of your daily online activities. The more inconvenient it is, the more likely you may be to cut corners; thus, negating all the progress you’ve made.
Being cybersafe doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your connected devices to the fullest. It just means that you may need to act with more intention and slow down before volunteering personal details online or clicking on links.
Supplement Your Digital Detox With McAfee+
To supplement your digital detox, consider signing up for McAfee+ Ultimate to make 2023 the year for a safer online you. McAfee+ Ultimate includes all the tools you need to live your best online life safely and privately, including a password manager, web protection, unlimited VPN and antivirus, and $1 million in identity theft coverage and restoration for peace of mind.
Cheers to a digitally smart 2023!