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Security Resolutions for 2012 and Beyond

2012-01-03

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Welcome back to the office, everyone (except postal and some bank workers). The first Monday after the new year is a great time to jot down a quick list of business-related resolutions. You can even put them into your calendar app, if you’re so inclined, to give yourself an extra nudge.

Here are my (security-themed) new year’s resolutions for 2012:

  •  I’ll change my passwords at least once a month

This one could be tough, but not to remember. I’m going to schedule the reminder in my phone’s calendar. For my own sake, the password itself has to meet some stringent standards, including a minimum length and some diversity of character types. But what’s tough is the sheer number of passwords this entails. I already use a different password for all of my various online accounts, but the idea of changing them all, so often, seems daunting.

It has to be done, but fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. In my case, I’m also going to rely heavily on a biometric finger scanner, helpfully preinstalled in the bezel of my laptop, and some third-party password manager software to keep up. You could also use a password manager like KeePass, which generates an optional password “best before” date, to keep you honest.

I’m doing this today, so listen up any criminals who might have been handed on a platter ahem, stolen, or audio-captcha-cracked any of my ‘victim test account’ passwords: use ’em if you got ’em.

  •  More frequent backups

This isn’t so much a security resolution as a security blanket resolution. I bought myself a nice, large external hard drive and I know how just to use it: A liberal application of Microsoft SyncToy to the data directories I want to back up.

I’m a proponent of frequent backups, but I don’t live up to my own standards and don’t back up the non-work computers often enough. No more. 2012 will be the year of 52 weekly backups of everything, with more frequent, perhaps daily, backups of things like email.

  • Dump bloatware from any computing device as soon as possible

Whether it’s a phone, a computer, or something in between, if it’s loaded up with some app that engages in any unwanted or undesirable behavior — or even if it just rubs me the wrong way — I’m getting rid of it.

No, I’m not going to just leave it there, running in the background, doing who-knows-what. Manufacturer warranties be damned: I will assert my right to total control over any technological device I have paid for, and will remove software that proves burdensome, irritating, or intrusive.

To the bitbucket you go, programs. And stay down.

  • Harden my computing environment

I already do this, so this resolution is more about the thoroughness than the execution. I’m making it a personal mission to really dig into the settings within applications and the operating system, with the goal to ensure I’ve done everything I can to lock down the computing devices I use. It’s also a catchall resolution, meant to include all the small stuff like disabling links in Outlook, and some of the unmentioned big stuff, like uninstalling vulnerable applications or disabling exploitable browser plugins.

  • Cleaning up my personal power environment

I use a lot of wireless devices, and many of those devices require the use of disposable batteries. Over the past year, I’ve reduced the number of batteries I produce as waste, but in 2012 I’m going full recharge. I’ve picked up a bundle of NiMH AAA and AA batteries and will attempt to use those, and (hopefully) occasional replacements, exclusively.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to eliminate all of the tiny watch-battery-powered devices I use, but I’ll try to find alternatives, like this solar-powered LED flashlight. What does this have to do with security? All that chemical-soaked metal poses a threat to some physical security things all humans require in order to live in meatspace, like clean water and soil. My disposable battery habit is a menace to society. So is yours. Let’s fix it.Solera blog stats

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