New Year: New Habits: Five Things You Should Start Doing in 2018

Gabrielle Fellows

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A new year means new resolutions! While most people focus on health-related New Year's resolutions, there are a lot of other resolutions you can make. These five tech-safety items will give you peace of mind in 2018 if you resolve to use them.

1. Actually use stronger passwords

Every time you set up a new account on a website, it asks you to set a "strong" password. This password consists of an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a symbol, and maybe a number. The thing is, many people make one password that follows that rule set, and then use it for everything. While it is convenient to always know what your password is, it also makes it a lot easier for someone to hack into all of your accounts. Start using stronger, more unique passwords. You may have to write them down to remember them, but it will make you and your identity safer.

2. Storing your cards in an RFID blocking wallet

While RFID blocking wallets might be a bit more expensive than other wallets, consider it an investment. These wallets protect you from credit card skimming. Certain credit cards, passports, and licenses come with a radio frequency ID chip, allowing you to buy things or prove your identity without having to swipe your card. The problem is anyone with an RFID reader can activate those chips and take the information. RFID blocking wallets block the chips in your cards from sending out their information unless they are outside of the wallet, preventing you from giving out your information without your permission.

3. Setting up 2-step authentication on your social media accounts

For some, this might seem like a no-brainer. But you'd be surprised at how many people don't set up 2-step authentication on their social media accounts. If you have 2-step authentication set up, it should take two separate actions to log you into your account.

Normally, you either have to verify you logged in by entering a code sent either to your cell phone or email. It takes a little bit of extra time to log into things, but it prevents people from hacking into your social media accounts, which often carry a lot of important, personal information. If you haven't set this up yet, do it. With most social media sites, you can do so from the settings menu.

4. Learning phone shortcuts for emergency purposes

If you use a newer smartphone, remember this! You never know when you might need it. Your smartphone has an emergency call feature available if you don't have time to unlock your phone and dial 911. If you have an iPhone 7+ or older, hit the button on the right side of your phone five times to activate Emergency SOS.

For iPhones 8 and above, press and hold the button on the right while at the same time holding in one of the two volume buttons. There is also an option that alerts your trusted contacts when you trigger the SOS signal.

Samsung Galaxy phones also have an SOS option that will send an audio clip, a picture from both your front and back camera and a Google Maps link to your location to the contact or contacts of your choosing. Once the feature is set up, you only have to press the power button three times rapidly to activate it.

5. Start pulling any card reader before inserting your cards

More and more people are getting their card information stolen by card skimmers attached to gas pumps, ATMs, and the like. To help prevent others from taking your card's information, pull on card readers before you use them. In most cases, a card skimmer is inserted on top of an already existing card reader. A quick pull can dislodge a skimmer that may be glued to the reader. Also, pay attention to the card readers you frequent. If your ATM's reader is a different color than before, call your bank teller and the police.

Any resolution feels odd at first. Give it a few weeks, and doing these things will feel second nature to you. A couple small changes can impact your life and significantly increase your safety. Cheers to a fun and secure 2018!

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