The New Year is here, and turning the calendar to 2024 provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on old tech habits and set fresh resolutions. If you’re looking for safe, smart ways to lead a more productive, efficient, and secure digital life, CMIT Solutions has you covered. Here’s what we recommend to start the year off on the right foot:
Cybersecurity and digital privacy
• Update any old or weak passwords. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your login credentials, it’s probably time to strengthen them—especially for critical accounts like email, social media, and banking apps. Security experts recommend using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols that form long but memorable passphrases. Once that’s done, consider using a password manager for added security and convenience.
• Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). Once your passwords have been updated, add an extra layer of security by enabling MFA on every account that offers it. MFA pairs your password with a unique code typically delivered via text, email, or a dedicated authenticator app. If an old or weak password is compromised, MFA can prevent hackers from easily gaining access to your account. This might be the most important step to protect your information in 2024.
• Review app permissions. Worried that an application on your phone might be sharing too much of your private information? Check the permissions associated with every app by visiting Settings or System Preferences on your mobile device. Keep an eye out for location services, activity tracking, and access to your camera or microphone—not every app requires such granular insight into your movements and behaviors. Turn off any unnecessary permissions to enhance your digital privacy. Make this an annual step you always perform around the holidays so you know what information is being shared by which apps.
• Invest in a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet connection, protecting your data from potential eavesdroppers and shielding online activities from hackers who often identify targets using vulnerable ISPs (internet service providers). If you plan to travel in 2024 and use public Wi-Fi in places like coffee shops or airports, a VPN will encrypt your data and prevent cybercriminals from intercepting sensitive information. Anyone working remotely can also access business networks more safely using a VPN.
Productivity and efficiency
• Organize your digital space. Many people wait for warmer weather to perform “spring cleaning” on their computers. But the New Year is a great time to declutter your digital life by organizing files and folders on desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. Delete old and redundant files to free up storage space while creating better visibility for pertinent documents you’ll need to get 2024 off to a great start.
• Boost productivity with a plan that works for you. Many people swear by the Pomodoro technique, which helps them work in focused intervals with short breaks. Time management apps like Focus@Will and Forest can also help you stay on track. Don’t want to use a branded option? Consider the time-blocking method, where specific blocks of time are allocated to specific types of tasks. This can provide a structure for the parts of your daily schedule that aren’t taken up by meetings.
• Learn more keyboard shortcuts. You can shave minutes off your day—and hours off your week—simply by mastering keyboard shortcuts for popular applications like Microsoft Office and common web browsers like Chrome, Edge, or Safari. Start with the simplest ones—Ctrl+C to copy text, Ctrl+V to paste text, and Ctrl+X to cut text—and consider learning a new one every month in 2024 to really improve workflows.
Identity and data protection
• Check your credit report. Here’s another important task that you should perform yearly (if not more often):kick off the year by reviewing your credit report for any suspicious activity. Free annual credit reports are available from major credit bureaus, while most banking and finance apps allow you to quickly check at-a-glance credit scores on a regular basis. If you see any sudden changes, dig deeper to look for unauthorized or suspicious activity.
• Monitor social media accounts. In 2023, phishing and social engineering scams proliferated on apps like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and X. Regularly review your social media accounts for anything unusual while double-checking security settings to make sure they flag or prevent DMs and friend/follow requests from unknown contacts. Be mindful of the information you share online to minimize the risk of identity theft.
• Secure your Wi-Fi network. Check the password on your modem and router—if they’re still using the original factory settings, strengthen them following the tips listed in this article’s first bullet point. Add WPA3 encryption for a more secure home network and regularly update your router’s firmware to patch vulnerabilities.
• Back up your data. If you’re not backing up your work and personal data regularly, remotely, and redundantly, contact an IT provider for help right away. Regular backups provide an important failsafe for critical files and documents, and negative impacts from ransomware attacks can be avoided simply by wiping affected systems clean and restoring a recent data backup.
• Be mindful of your tech consumption. Everybody sets New Year’s resolutions on January 1st—but how many will last throughout 2024? Use this quiet time at the start of the year to evaluate your own tech habits. Maybe consider unsubscribing from the promotional emails that fill up your inbox or try to limit your non-essential screen time. Even if you only reduce it by a few minutes a day, it’s a big step toward better digital health.
All of us at CMIT Solutions wish you and yours a happy, healthy New Year. Hopefully, you can embrace this aspirational time of year and kick 2024 off with a tech-savvy mindset focused on cybersecurity, privacy, productivity, and efficiency.
If you need help setting the foundation for a successful and secure journey in 2024, contact us today. We’re here to help with tech excellence, digital protection, and business growth.