Your 2018 New Year’s TECH Resolutions!

Say goodbye to 2017 and make some changes to protect your Technology

As with all New Year’s Resolutions- my advice is not to make them SO insurmountable that you set yourself up for failure. On the flip side, don’t make them so easy that they do nothing for you, or that you feel no sense of accomplishment.

1. ORGANIZE!

That being said, my number one Resolution is to Organize. Now this is an incredibly broad word and in its entirety, is way easier said than done. My point here is just focus on ONE part of your life. Your desk, your bedroom, your kitchen. Likewise, maybe just your EMAIL, your to-do list, your daily routine, etc.

My focus here is related to a conversation I had with a friend last night. They were searching everywhere for their medical card (NOT a Medical marijuana one). I asked them if they use Dropbox. She said “yes, it’s great for all my pictures!” I used to do that too. It is so one dimensional though that I was missing the point. When I came to LA Creative Technologies I found a big EMPTY file cabinet. I asked Josh where all his important documents were- like the one I had at my last business that overflowed with papers and junk and mismatched files?

He said- “they’re all in the cloud”. Assuming that he didn’t just throw them all in a bonfire I asked questions and found that he kept scanned copies of EVERYTHING- contracts, tax returns, legal documents, leases, warranties, etc. etc. in a cloud application like Drop Box. Anywhere we go in the world we simply sign in to that app, search for the folder (or even the name of the document, like “copy of Driver’s license”) and Viola! there it is!

So, guess what? No more frantic searching for documents or ID cards that you need once a year and can never remember the “clever” spot you put them in! Try this and you will NEVER look back! AND you will never look for those documents either!

2. UPDATE your software!

Some of the most damaging Cyber-attacks in 2017 involved Ransomware.  In May, the ransomware known as WannaCry affected more than 200,000 Windows computers in 150 countries. Security experts believe the malware spread through machines by getting people to download it via email.

This is the incredible part: Microsoft had already released a security update that would have prevented the WannaCry malware from infecting machines. But the hacked computers were behind on downloading the updates. This episode was an important reminder that keeping your software up to date is crucial.

3. Read Privacy Policies

Amid Uber’s laundry list of scandals, which included sexual harassment accusations and an undisclosed security breach, there was an important revelation that everyone can learn from. It involved Unroll.me, a free service that unsubscribes you from junk mail.

To gather intelligence about its competition, Uber bought information about its main rival, Lyft, from Unroll.me. How did Uber do that, exactly? Unroll.me scanned the contents of its users’ inboxes and sold anonymized data, information that did not have individuals’ names attached to it — in this case, emailed Lyft receipts — to Uber.

You may be shocked to learn about Unroll.me’s business model. But the truth was always there in the fine print: the company’s privacy policy clearly stated that “we may collect, use, transfer, sell and disclose non-personal information for any purpose” and that data can be used “to build anonymous market research products and services.” Still, people were understandably outraged by the misleading nature of Unroll.me. A company that promised to rid you of spam mail scanned your inbox and sold information about you to other companies, including marketers.

So, make it a habit to read a company’s privacy policy. As boring as it sounds, a bit of reading will go a long way.

4. Delete Unnecessary Apps

The Unroll.me episode also raised awareness of the sheer number of third-party apps that may be leeching off your personal information. There are probably apps and web services you don’t remember downloading or subscribing to, and they could still have access to your data.

THIS year do an audit on your third-party apps. On your smartphone, delete apps that you have not touched in several months. For a clean break, in some cases you will also have to visit the company’s website and request that your account be deleted entirely.

Also check your primary online accounts, like Facebook, Twitter or Google, to see which apps are hooked into them. Chances are you have used those accounts to quickly sign up for a web tool or app. The ones you never use may still be leeching off your personal data, so you should disable them.

On Facebook, go to the settings page and click on the Apps tab to see which apps are connected to the account. On your Google account page, you can find a similar apps list labeled “Connected apps & sites.” And on Twitter, go to the Apps page under “Settings and privacy.”

5. Use a VPN

In April, Congress voted to overturn privacy rules that would have made it more difficult for broadband providers like Comcast and Charter to track and sell information about your browsing history to advertisers. The stronger privacy rules never went into effect, meaning nothing changed. But the privacy repeal underlined the sheer magnitude of data that internet service providers can collect and share about you. Subscribing to a virtual private network, or VPN, is a meaningful safeguard for your online privacy.

When you browse the web, a broadband provider helps route your device’s internet traffic to each destination website. Every device you use has an identifier consisting of a string of numbers, also known as an IP address. When you are on the internet, a service provider can see which devices you use and which sites you visit. You must realize that this information is used extensively in marketing and advertising to YOU among other things.

VPNs help cloak your browsing information from your internet provider. When you use VPN software, your device connects to a VPN provider’s servers. That way, all your web traffic passes through the VPN provider’s internet connection. So, if your internet provider was trying to listen in on your web traffic, all it would see is the VPN server’s IP address connected to the VPN service.

VPNs have their drawbacks. They often slow down internet speeds significantly, and some apps or services don’t work properly when you are connected to a VPN. I also wasn’t able to buy my 5th Groupon in a row during a sale because they found I was using a VPN from a different state (we’ll leave that story for another time…). But everybody can benefit from using a private network, especially in certain situations, like connecting to an open Wi-Fi network at a cafe or an airport.

BONUS Resolution!

For the love of Pete (Or any other person or Deity you choose), get a case and screen protector for your phone!! Just because you got it FREE or only $199 (with an MSRP of $999) after agreeing to pay $30 extra dollars a month, DOES’NT mean that it will be free again when you drop it.

Newer phones are made more and more out of glass and are even more susceptible to damage. For someone who worked in the cell phone industry over 18 years, this author doesn’t leave the store without a case and screen protector in hand (or at least an order placed on Ebay/Amazon for one)

 

I hope these help you to enter 2018 more aware of Internet Technology and how it can and WILL improve your life. People say technology is doing damage in some ways to society, but I feel it’s all in the hands of the users. Literally. Let it IMPROVE your life, not take it over.  I wish you all a Wonderful, Happy and Healthy New Year!

See you in 2018.

 

Some of this information was quoted from New York Times writer Brian X. Chen’s article “5 New Year’s Resolutions to protect your Technology”