ImageSo, with three weeks of the year behind us, how are your resolutions fairing? Many of you are probably answering ‘Not Well’. And you’re not alone. According to a 2007 study 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail.

If yours are long forgotten it’s not too late to revamp your intentions and perhaps even add personal IT security to the list.

Troy Gill, AppRiver’s senior security analyst believes, “A security breach is the digital equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction – except it can be very expensive in addition to a red face. With hackers and data thieves working desperately to steal confidential information, whether it’s company data or an individual’s personal information, 2014 must be the year we all take security to the next level.”

To that end, at the beginning of January, AppRiver released its Top 10 IT Security Resolutions companies should be making. The list included many aspects of security that are relevant not just for organisations, but also us as individuals if we’re to keep ourselves safe and out of the criminals clutches:

•    Change passwords frequently and make them tough to crack
•    Use different passwords for different accounts
•    Don’t expose yourself (TMI – too much information) on social networks
•    Trust no one

With passwords an important security measure in an increasingly digital world – often the only lock to many areas of a person’s online life, it’s certainly something that I’ve made a resolution to focus on. If you’re interested in reading more about password security, Troy has written a lovely article that focuses on this element for Surveillance Magazine.

So, having made a promise to improve online security, how do we make this last the full twelve months and not repeat our previous failures?

To me the answer seems obvious – organisations and individuals need to work together, and make a promise to each other, to be safer online. Quoting Frank Ra (author of the New Year’s resolution book “A course in happiness”): “Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution.”

I’m sure it wouldn’t be too strenuous for organisations that trust passwords to identify users – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter spring to mind, to force periodic password changes. After all, the functionality exists! Following its recent breach Adobe imposed password updates for all customers to protect accounts – so we know it can do it. And if it can, then the others must be able to too.

From a personal perspective, we can also employ a degree of creativity when devising passwords. Troy’s advice is “Become creative using a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols that mean something to you but to others will appear completely random.”

Hopefully you’re inspired to make 2014 the year you get safer online. Good luck.

by Dulcie McLerie

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