The end of a long year is the perfect time to reflect on the past and search for ways to make the next 12 months better. If 2018 has taught you anything about your online safety, you know you can’t trust anyone but yourself to protect your data. Data breaches are on the rise as hackers target online retailers, social media, and even credit agencies without prejudice. If you expect to protect your data from overexposure, make your digital life a priority in 2019. Here are four ways to stay safe in the new year.
Update your software
Did you know that Windows randomly searches for updates every 17 to 22 hours? That would explain why that pop-up reminding you to update seems to show up every time you use your laptop.
If you’re like most people, you click “remind me later” on most of your software updates, whether it’s for Windows, your anti-virus, or phone OS. These notifications usually come at the worst time, and they can take forever to load. Depending on the size of the update, it may even change the UI — causing some people to postpone these updates indefinitely.
You’ll want to rethink this strategy in the new year. In many cases, these regular, minor updates include security upgrades targeting common malware and bloatware affecting your apps and devices. These updates patch any vulnerable parts of your software. By accepting these on a regular basis, your data will be better protected against virus and other security issues.
De-bug your phones
Another way you can limit your exposure to malware is by taking a look at your phone. If you enjoy trying out new games, podcast players, and messenger services you’ve probably downloaded your fair share of apps. And you probably used all of them a lot at least once — like when they were still fresh in your mind.
After a few weeks, however, the novelty wears off. Eventually, months go by before you even scroll far enough to see the app is still there. If this sounds familiar, your phone is probably full of stuff.
It’s a good idea check in with any third-party app that didn’t come with your Pixel or iPhone, using your Pie OS or iOS to help you determine which ones you don’t use. Review your phone for any apps that you don’t use often and apps that you don’t remember downloading. These third-party apps could be accessing your data and using it without your permission. By deleting them, you’ll cut off the supply while opening up some much-needed memory on your device.
Read terms and conditions
Back in the spring, you probably received a bunch of emails regarding privacy policies and terms of service. From Uber and Skip the Dishes to Facebook and Instagram, online services had to update these terms and conditions thanks to a new data security law ratified by the EU.
In all likelihood, your eyes glazed over when you opened these emails — just like when you consent to websites tracking your cookies. Most people do it, but you shouldn’t. Every time you visit a site, shop online, or log into a profile, you’re sharing confidential data with these servers. These terms tell you how these companies and apps intend to use your data.
Protect your hardware
Studies show mobile browsing is more popular than traditional desktop usage. So If you’re like most people, you’re using your iPhone or Android to scroll through Instagram, read the news, shop online, and more.
The prevalence of dedicated apps and mobile browsing makes it easier than ever before to use your handset as your primary device — making it possible to do almost anything on the web from anywhere you get a signal.
The downside to this mobile way of life is that the latest handsets like the iPhone X series, the Galaxy S9 series, and the Pixel 3 series are incredibly sensitive. One wrong move and you can scratch a groove into the backing or drop them to the ground.
If you’d rather not wait to see how your new iPhone XS Max fairs on a drop, you’ll want to invest in a protective skin for your phone. iPhone skins are thin yet durable accessories that wrap around the bezels and backing of the XS Max, coating it in a scratch-free and grime-resistant layer of vinyl. This material is texturized to boost your natural grip — improving the chances of you keeping it in your hand.
Each skin is made with your phone in mind, so an iPhone skin measures differently than a Galaxy skin or than a Pixel skin. A skin company like dbrand is also working on a screen protector that will work alongside these custom-made skins to ensure your phone is protected from bezel to increasingly smaller bezel.
Sign-ups for the Prism screen protector are on-going, and there’s word on Twitter it will release alongside a skin compatible Grip case. Exact dates aren’t known just yet, but that’s okay. You have all of 2019 to go through this checklist and make sure your tech is safe.
From esoteric online security to handheld physical well-being, every step contributes to your digital safety. Make sure you follow this guide to keep your data and device protected every month of the new year. These intentions are the best resolutions you can make in the new year.