Let’s face it—at some point over the next two weeks you’re going to look outside at the wind, rain, or snow pelting your window, and say, “I’m bored!”
Holiday downtime can seem a little unstructured for the always-busy, go-getters among us. Never fear! For anyone desperate to fill a couple free hours or even free minutes during this holiday season, here are some ideas to turn that boredom to good use and make yourself more cybersecure in time for the new year:
Start Using a Password Manager | 2+ hours
Using a password manager is probably the single most important thing you can do to keep yourself secure. But it will take an investment of your time and attention.
You’ll need to select a password manager, learn how it works, and then start the process of converting all your old, lazy, reused passwords into long, unique, strong passwords. Pour another cup of coffee (or a glass of Scotch) and get to work!
Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication | 30-60 minutes
Most logins—from Google to Facebook to LinkedIn to your bank—offer some form of multi-factor or two-factor authentication these days. As most security experts will tell you, these methods are a great way to add another layer of security to your important accounts.
Using a text-message-based second factor is good, but why not take that extra 30 minutes and use an app-based authenticator like Google Authenticator, Authy, or Microsoft Authenticator, or consider a security key such as a Yubikey?
Tighten Your Security and Privacy Settings | 30 minutes
No matter the social media platform you use, there are security and privacy settings that you should get to know and tweak to match your own concern for your personal data.
If you really want to tell the whole world every time you post on Facebook, by all means make everything public. But my guess is that’s not what you’ve got in mind. Dive in, get to know these settings as well as that second tin of holiday cookies you just polished off, and limit what information about yourself you share and who you share it with.
Set Strong Passwords on Your Home Devices | 30 minutes +
Are your connected home devices—routers, Wi-Fi networks, refrigerators, etc.—still rocking the default password they came with out of the box? If so, now’s the time to dive into the system settings and set a unique, complex password that will ensure that hackers can’t use your darned lightbulb to hack your whole house or enslave your thermostat to brute force an international bank.
This could be easy or it could take a while, depending on the age and number of devices in your home, but think of it like solving a good puzzle (with no missing pieces, like the 40-year-old Santa jigsaw puzzle on Grandma’s coffee table).
Update Your Software |15 minutes
You’ve been ignoring those software updates that keep popping up on your home computer, haven’t you? Perhaps you’ve forgotten that most of these updates are applying security patches that make a big difference in keeping your computer, and by extension every device on your home network, secure.
Now’s the time to click “Update Now” and let the computer do its thing. Yeah, you may have to restart a time or two, but what the heck else do you have to do? It’s only the 17th showing of A Christmas Story that you’re missing!
So don’t be bored this holiday season; be secure. You’ll be happy you took the time.