The new year is here. You’ve already started working toward your New Year resolution for this year. Did you include a cybersecurity resolution?
If not, why not?
If nothing else, what we’ve seen from the past few years is that with the increasing amount of information about ourselves that we share online, and with the rate cybercrime is increasing, it’s only becoming more critical that we protect ourselves.
Regardless of who you are, what you do, or how much you use the Internet and connected devices, cybersecurity shouldn’t be an afterthought.
So why not use a New Year’s resolution to make some headway on your cybersecurity?
Why add cybersecurity as a New Year’s resolution?
No doubt, you already knew that creating New Year’s resolutions could be useful. One reason for this is because the new year feels like a fresh start and a clean slate.
We already have the sense that the new year is an opportunity to enact whatever change or self-improvement we desire.
If you’re not so sure a New Year resolution is useful, consider this study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton.
They found that at six months into the new year, 46% of the people they studied who made a New Year’s resolution were continuously successful compared to only 4% of those who did not.
They found that those who made a New Year resolution were ten times more likely to achieve the changes they set out to make compared to those who wanted to change but didn’t create a one.
Another reason is that a New Year’s resolution also affords us the time to plan and easily track on any calendar. Are you halfway to your goal in June? Not sure how long you have left – Total the months or days left in the year!
What to Choose for a New Year’s Resolution
Especially if you’re only starting to work on your cybersecurity this year, choosing a resolution can seem daunting. Where the heck do you start?
One good starting point is to look at an area of your cybersecurity that you haven’t focused on much. Choose one thing from that area to focus on that you know will help improve your cybersecurity.
Another good starting point is to complete a cybersecurity assessment or have a look at one you’ve done previously. Choose one of the higher-rated items to focus on for your resolution this year.
4 New Year Resolution Ideas
A cybersecurity resolution can be but doesn’t need to be lofty. If you’re still stuck, think about starting with something simple like the new year resolution ideas below:
- Make a complex password for every new password created this year; Change all your passwords to be different at every site and keeping them that way. Have a hard time remembering passwords? Check out: Two Simple Tips to Remembering Passwords
- Review the configuration of all existing and new devices bought during the year (the wireless router included!) to ensure the security settings are set as secure as possible.
- Read and review each of the Terms of Service and Privacy policies for all of all cloud and online services you use to understand how they affect your security and your privacy.
- Review every social media post to make sure none reveal anything they shouldn’t.
It’s important to remember that when choosing a resolution, it should be realistic, specific, and something that you know you can achieve. Even if it’s lofty, it should still meet these criteria.
A New Year Resolution Needs a Plan
Of course, a New Year resolution by itself isn’t going to get us anywhere. They require work to achieve success, and a great way to achieve success is to plan!
Once you’ve decided on what your New Year’s resolution is going to be, the next step is to set up some goals.
When we set up our resolutions each year, we like to break them down into multiple SMART goals, each of which we intend to meet throughout the year.
Setting SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
The goal has a particular outcome in mind and isn’t something general.
For example, if you’re going to change your passwords to be different at every website, then your goal could be specific by saying that you’re going to change 4 per month.
You can write down concrete criteria to measure your progress towards the goal.
For example, you can note the running total of how many passwords you’ve changed, or note down 12 groups of 4 and cross them off as you work on them each month.
Being attainable means that the goal is one that you are reasonably confident that you can achieve. It also helps if the goal is something you have control over. If not, the goal could become much harder to attain or become unreachable entirely by factors out of your control.
It can also help if the goal is something you have control over.
For example, stating that you’re going to change all your passwords in 1 month when you know you won’t have the time or the task itself seems daunting might leave you frustrated and without the motivation to continue. On the other hand, stating that you’ll change four might make the goal much more obtainable.
The goal is something you are not only able to work towards but one that matters to you and that you are willing to put effort towards until it’s complete.
For example, you aren’t too concerned about the strength of your passwords, changing four each month might slowly slide down the to-do list until it eventually sits at the bottom for the rest of the year.
The goal needs to be bound to a timeline. Setting a timeframe to your goal not only creates a sense of urgency around reaching the target, but also provides a marker to march toward and aspire to achieve.
For example, if you’re changing all your passwords, not only will all the changes be completed by a specific date, but commit to changing a number by the 15th of each month.
How Many Goals Do I Need?
The number of goals you want to set is entirely up to you.
We like to break down our resolutions into several smaller goals that we can achieve during the year. It gives us measurable results at shorter intervals and helps us keep the motivation by seeing the small achievements along the way.
Let’s make this the year you do something about your cybersecurity
Make a security resolution, set some goals, and follow-through. The return on your investment of effort may not be as immediate as you’d like. However, when you do see that return and avoid becoming compromised in a cyber-attack, you’ll be glad you took the time to put in the effort.
Have you made New Year’s resolutions to improve your cybersecurity this year?