There’s still time to get in a better swing of things for 2017, especially when it comes to digital technology.  

We all have bad habits, but when it comes to technology, some of these habits are putting our personal security and our productivity at risk.

If you’re guilty of any of these, consider making a change that might keep you safer online and make it easier to work through your daily to-do list.

Security habits

Not using secure websites  

While you can never be 100% sure that your personal information is safe online, some websites are riskier than others.

Have a look at the top of the transactional websites you are browsing. This includes your banking website, the places you regularly shop and media sites that ask you to sign in as a user.

When you are logged in, the beginning of the URL sometimes reads ‘https://’ rather than simply ‘http://’. That little ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’ and means that the site has additional security protecting your personal information. Look for the ‘s’ as well as a little padlock icon as reassurance that the site has been properly validated and data is encrypted as it passes between the browser and the server.

Basic sites that you browse without sharing your personal information are not such a concern (you will likely just see ‘www’ at the top of the page). However, if you are entering details like credit cards or your date of birth – this is when https becomes important.

Sites that don’t have an SSL certificate are more likely to be easy prey for hackers – it is easier for them to find your details and use them for personal gain.

To be on the safe side, always be careful what information you provide and what password you use when registering your details online.

Using the same passwords for every account

Speaking of passwords…

At first, they were just that – words. Now you are likely to be asked to include uppercase, numbers and a minimum character count.

This isn’t purely to annoy you! It is to make it more difficult for hackers to break in. For example, having ‘hellocomputer’ as your password gives you a score of under 20% for security on the website passwordmeter.com. Changing that to something along the lines of ‘HellLoComput3R72’ takes you right up to 100%, as it is harder for a computer program to figure out.

But what if a hacker does break into your email account? If they can then use the same password to access your online banking and even get into your workplace intranet, you are in for some trouble.

This is why tech experts recommend using as many different passwords as possible. Use a site like LastPass to keep track if you have trouble remembering your different entry codes.

For more tips, read our First rule of passwords article.

Oversharing

We’re not necessarily talking about those Snapchat pics where you have dog ears or the fancy meal you whipped up for dinner.

In terms of security, we’re talking about sharing personal information online.

Posting your address, date of birth and full name publicly on social media can make it easier for criminals to use this information for their own gain. Letting the world know your daily habits is also a way of letting it be known when you are not likely to be home – yikes!

Protect yourself by double checking the privacy settings of the accounts you use regularly and avoiding sharing personal details on small sites that you don’t feel you can trust, or which may not have up-to-par security systems.

Be careful also about permission requests from apps and websites. It is possible for hackers to get through these platforms to your other accounts so be selective with the sites you grant access to.

Productivity

Checking your phone every five minutes

Recent research from Deloitte found that Australians are collectively checking their phones an astonishing 440 million times per day. Eighty per cent of us check our phones within an hour of waking up in the morning, returning for a look an average of 30 times a day.

This regular checking is an interruption that can cost hours without you realising. Some tips to cut back include:

  • Keeping your phone out of reach when it is time to focus on an important task
  • Having set times each day when you don’t look at your phone
  • Switching it to silent
  • Allowing for a period each day when you are free to have a good scroll around but setting a timer so that you don’t get sucked down the social media rabbit hole

Responding to notifications

It is easy to feel like someone wants your attention every minute of the day. If it is not an alert from your social media or news app then it is an email or a text message. The fact is that many of our digital alerts are for things that aren’t urgent.

By turning off alerts and notifications, either some or all, you are free to devote yourself to the task at hand. An app encouraging the Pomodoro technique can help with this by timing your work in 25 minute blocks and then giving you regular breaks to stretch your legs or check your emails.

Alternatively, if you think it wouldn't cause problems, you could discipline yourself to check emails and updates first thing in the day, after lunch and before you head home for the day.

Not leaving space in your calendar

Busy day? Your colleagues have the power to make it busier. If your calendar is set to public, they can see your availability and add you to meetings or conference calls.

That means even every hour can be claimed by an enthusiastic co-worker, leaving you with little time to get other things done.

If you don’t want to make your calendar completely private, block out some times each day so you know you will be able to concentrate on important tasks during business hours.

Technology is able to provide so much, but you want to have control of it rather than the other way around. By making sure you are safe and that your devices and connections aren’t causing you stress you will be able to make the most of the digital products available to you.  

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