January 07, 2013, 9:00 AM — Among your typical New Year's resolutions--lose weight, stop smoking, be happier--you should consider making some pledges to better secure your digital life. You might even be healthier if you can prevent the stress of a digital disaster, like malware wiping out your PC, having your online accounts hacked, or becoming a victim of identify theft because of a phishing scam or data theft. With that in mind, here are some security resolutions you should consider for the new year.
Use PIN protection on your mobile devices
Smartphones and tablets are mini computers, and if they get lost or stolen, others may be able to access your email and social networks, browse through your photos, files, and text messages, and access other accounts that you've downloaded apps for. However, you can enable lock screen protection to require a PIN or password before using your device.
How you turn on PIN protection varies between devices, but you should be able to find it in your phone or tablet's settings app. A password or PIN isn't foolproof, but it's a good first line of defense against snoopers and would-be data thieves.
Install an anti-theft app on your mobile devices
If your smartphone, iPad, or tablet gets lost or stolen when you're out and about there's a good chance you'll never see it again. But having an anti-theft solution increases your chances of recovery. You could remotely locate it on a map from another device or PC, make it play a siren to help you find it (useful for when your phone slips between the couch cushions), or wipe your device if you think you won't get it back.
Many mobile carriers offer an anti-theft or remote locating service, but there are also free apps you can download for your Android or iOS device. Take a look at Lookout Mobile Security for Android, which also includes protection against Android malware. If you own an iOS device, the free Find My iPhone and Find My iPad apps from Apple are worth downloading.
The same goes for your laptop
Like with smartphones and tablets, you can setup an anti-theft solution on your laptop. And if it becomes lost or stolen you can remotely locate it via Wi-Fi positioning and IP address locations, if someone connects it to the Internet. Some anti-theft solutions let you remotely control the web cam and monitor the screen as well, further helping you to find the thief.