I remember when Daylight Savings Time (DST) used the same dates every year. Those were the days! Things were so much easier to manage. Given that I also work for a software company, it also meant no new mini-Y2K’s occurring regarding software updates every time the US government or some other nation decided to make a change to the DST dates.
Anyway, this year we move into DST in a few weeks. For many households, they take the time incorporate other biannual habits into the “clocks-back” ritual. By the way, I wonder how long this will have to continue the further we get into the 21st century. More and more of my devices with clocks are adjusting to DST automatically. This too may go the way of other 20th century constructs. But I digress.
In addition to checking your smoke detector batteries, why not include a little personal IT security ritual into your bi-annual time re-routing? Here are some suggestions for you to do that will not only improve your personal/consumer IT security, but also allow you to maintain control of your online presence and it may even save you a little money. Bear in mind, you may have to give up the majority of an entire weekend doing this, but hey, it would only be twice a year!
- Change your device passwords: Change your phone PIN, your computer login passwords, and any tablets you may have.
- Change your online email account passwords and all of your online bank account passwords. While you are at it, change all of your passwords that involve account that’s may have your credit card information or any of your other personal information.
- Are you having trouble keeping track of all of your passwords to all of your online accounts? Well take the time to maybe place all of them into a single Excel spreadsheet or a Word document. If you are currently involved in steps #1 and #2, you are probably already having to do this. The thing is, when you are done, you will need to secure this in some fashion. Use a USB drive that has hardware level encryption (You can Bing these online) or in my case, if you are using Windows, take advantage of Bitlocker-to-Go! If you change you usernames and passwords to the same thing, you may not need to go this far, but for me, I use different usernames and passwords so it has become a necessity. I know Amazon and other book retailers actually sell notebooks for you to write this stuff down, I would only reserve that for offline low-tech storage (i.e. safety-deposit box.)
- Back up all of your devices if possible. Tell the truth, when was the last you have done this? Backup all of your computers to external USB drives. You can now buy 2TB external drives that could hold full backups for multiple computers. If you have important information such as pictures or documents on USB stick/thumb/flash drives, you can plug those into your computer so that information will get backed up as well. For your portable devices such as SmartPhones, tablets – EVEN Xbox consoles, you can back up your game saves and user profiles to the cloud. For stationary devices such as desktop computers, you can also schedule regular backups to external drives.
- If you have any time left this weekend after doing the above, consider cleaning out your email inboxes. Are your email rules updated? Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with your daily inbox growth? Take the time to add in email rules that will automatically put certain types of emails into folders for viewing later. You can do this in Outlook *AND* you can also do this now with your Live/Hotmail accounts using Outlook.com! Other online services have this or similar features. Obviously, I’m partial to specific services 😉
If you really want to get paranoid and if you have the time, use this weekend (maybe once a year instead of twice a year) to change your credit cards and debit cards. When you do this, you essentially will get a new card with a new PIN. Once you activate these new cards, the old ones become invalid, and guess what? The emails and phone calls will start coming. I LOVE THIS and I will tell you why – On more than one occasion I have been contacted to update credit card information for something that I: a.) . . . did not authorize to begin with b.) . . . completely forgot about and was not even using the goods/service provided, or c.) . . . put serious thought into it, realized it was no longer worth continuing. Be careful that when you get correspondence from these companies that you contact the ones you would like to cancel directly so as to not have any of them create credit havoc for you later.
If all of this seems a bit overwhelming for one weekend at the very least, try to do steps #1 and #2 at least once a year.