If you have any illusions that your company is safe from cyber-attack in 2017, consider just a few findings stated in a recent report by the Herjavec Group, a global information security firm:

  • Every second, 12 people online become a victim of cybercrime, totalling more than 1 million victims around the world every day.
  • Nearly half of all cyber-attacks globally last year were committed against small businesses.
  • Ransomware attacks rose more than an astonishing 300% in 2016.
  • The world’s cyber-attack surface will grow an order of magnitude larger between now and 2021.
  • The US has declared a national emergency to deal with the cyberthreat.
  • There is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime today.

Clearly, your company’s information and financial well-being are at greater risk than ever in 2017. And you cannot count on the federal or state government or local police to protect your interests. That’s why I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you implement the following resolutions starting TODAY:

  1. Password Protection

Using the same password for everything may make logging in easier for you, but that also means that it makes it amazingly simple for someone to hack into all of your accounts. If your password gets hacked on one account, any other place you use that same password is at risk. With the constant rise of identity theft on the horizon, it is your best bet to create complex passwords that are changed regularly, typically every 90 days. A password with strong strings of random characters including numbers, upper-case letters, lower-case letters, and symbols is best practice. Now, you may think, “How am I supposed to remember a complicated password like that?” Well, luckily you don’t have to. There are plenty of reliable password manager apps that use powerful encryptions to keep your passwords safe and secure. We recommend password managers like LastPass, KeePass, SplashID, and 1Password, just to name a few. Some of these apps even help you create your password, making sure each one is strong and unique.

  1. Back That Thing Up

Anyone who has lived through a hard drive crash can tell you how important it is to back up your system. Then thing is, you never know when your hard drive will fail (and it can, believe me it can), but you also never know when a natural disaster will wipe out your entire system, or when some cybercriminal hacker will encrypt your information only to make you pay to have it returned to you in its normal state. You may not realize it now, but with so much of our lives stored on our devices, like family photos, presentations, and possibly every spreadsheet and document you need to keep your business running smoothly, making sure you have a second copy (and are backing it up regularly) can be the difference between having those irreplaceable items and losing them forever. There are quite a few options to consider when archiving and protecting your data. External hard drives and flash drives are great, but Cloud based solutions such as DropBox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive make sure all your data files get synched, so that if you lose your computer and your external hard drive, you’ll still have a backup ready and easily accessible. On the other hand, while traditional solutions only capture data, image-based backup automatically captures a picture of the entire workstation or server and stores it as a unique point in time. If you need to rebuild or virtualize a machine due to damage or disaster, you can quickly restore all of the files, applications and operating systems using Datto.

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

How many old tech items are you hording? I’m talking old phones, tablets, printers, desktops, and laptops. They’re cluttering your drawers and closets, collecting dust, never to be used again, so why keep them? Maybe you thought you might use them again one day, but with technology continually improving, that old tech dinosaur is nothing compared to the latest and greatest items on the market today. It’s time to recycle. This e-waste would be better off re-sold, donated to someone in need, or recycled for their precious metals. The fastest easiest solution is to box everything up and bring it to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. The only problem is, even if you delete everything on your old device, it can still be recovered, that's why we recommend a DOD wipe. This software-based data sanitation method overwrites the existing information on a hard drive or storage device, preventing all software based file recovery methods. For the month of January, we are offering this service to you free of change, just give us a call to learn more: (512) 388-5559

  1. Shop Smart and Save

Did you miss the Black Friday/Cyber Monday crazy blowout deals? Not to worry! The truth is, most retailers “sales” promotions are actually designed to clear out unwanted goods. Best-selling products rarely drop that much in price. So instead of being pressured to purchase something with little to no research just because it was on sale, it’s far more lucrative to actually do your research, find the appropriate product that is right for you and actually worth the money. Also, many deals that emerge throughout the year are just as good, sometimes even better than the ones on Black Friday. Online tools like Camel Camel Camel and Keepa help you track and view pricing history and current changes for items you’re interested in on Amazon and Etsy. Another great tool is The Wirecutter, a website that lists product recommendations for the best gadgets on the market, helping you easily decipher good deals from the not-so-good deals. Either way if you find the product you want form a reputable brand you can trust at a decent price, you can save money just by getting the quality that lasts, not the cheap knock off item, meant to be replaced every 6 months. Another great way to save money on tech items is to consider buying a used product whenever possible. Most used or refurbished electronics from reputable brands were just returned by the customer or they were restored to good-as-new condition by a refurbishing center. The product might have a minor cosmetic flaw, or the box might have been a little beat up, but it is usually just as good as its newer or untarnished counterpart, and works just as well. Be careful though, make sure to read the items condition description, and return policy diligently to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.

  1. Don’t Underestimate the Update

It may be annoying to restart your computer, but updates keep your computer and other devices running smoothly and securely. Updates occasionally contain bug fixes and product enhancements that can only improve the programs performance. There are always flaws with any software system, and it’s only a matter of time before some cybercriminal hacks into it and locates that weak point. In fact, most software developers have employees rigorously test and quality check the software to discover vulnerabilities and make sure the functionality is stable. Sometimes when an update or patch is released, the vulnerability is even announced by the company, giving hackers an easy opportunity to access your device and all of its contents. If you installed it, you must update it.

  1. Delete, Delete, Delete

We all have old accounts, deleting the ones you no longer use and keeping your web presence up to date can prevent unwanted hackers from gaining access to the account you haven’t used in years, and in turn prevents them from gaining access to your personal information. While you’re at it, delete the junk email from your inbox. Maybe you signed up for a few newsletters, but no longer read them, or maybe you receive a few too many promotional ads from stores you’ve shopped or products you’ve purchased. Whatever the case may be, they’re clogging up your inbox, taking up precious processor space and wasting your time. Start small by going through and unsubscribing from at least 5 companies (Excluding CTTS, of course), and deleting 20 old unnecessary emails per day. It’s easier than you think, and can actually be a stress relieving and therapeutic experience. In no time, your inbox will be up-to date and stress free. One more way to free up some space on your computer or device is to go through and delete any old apps you have not used in over a year. Maybe you were obsessed with them for a week or so, but those one-hit-wonder apps can really bog down your device. If your devices feel sluggish, freeing up some storage can make a dramatic difference. Go through your apps and rid yourself of the excess baggage, you’ll be happier without all that excess clutter, and your device will load the apps you actually use a lot faster.

  1. It’s Never Too Early for a Spring Cleaning

After you’ve cleaned up the inside of your devices, it’s an even better idea to clean up the outside. Did you know that Cold and Flu germs from sneeze droplets can stay on a surface for up to 48 hours? Some microbes can even live on household surfaces for hundreds of years. A study in 2011 found that 16% of cell phones have feces on them, and that keyboards can have up to 60 times more bacteria than toilet seats. That’s 150 times over the acceptable limit for bacteria levels. The simple solution: wipe your keyboard and devices with a disinfectant cloth. Using a cloth with dish soap diluted with water, a disinfectant cloth like a Clorox wipe, rubbing alcohol applied with a soft tissue, microfiber electronic cleaning cloths, or any household sanitizing wipes will do. They’ve even developed an ultraviolet light cleaner, so no excuses, keep it clean!