New Year’s Security Checkup

T he new year is a great time to look at your security and computer disaster readiness. Here are a few steps to take to make your online experience safer.

• You likely know it, but it is time to make all passwords unique and not based on any personally identifiable information. If your passwords can’t fit on one sheet of paper, consider using a password manager such as LastPass, 1Password or Dashlane. A secret advantage of a password manager is that it will warn you if you try to log into a fake website.

• It might be time to turn on two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication; though it might feel annoying to type in a second one-time key or password, it is a great way to be warned if someone is trying to log into one of your accounts.

• If someone hacks into one of your online accounts, they might be able to charge purchases if you have stored credit card information on that site. Consider removing that stored info and enter it every time instead.

• If you have a Google or Gmail account, check into what they are storing about you at

• WiFi and Bluetooth should be turned off on your iPhone when you are not actively using them, especially when you are out of the house. Turn them off in Settings, and people on Android devices should do the same. Turning off Bluetooth will not interfere with any COVID-19 tracing apps.

• Back up your computers and data.

Microsoft will begin forcing some users to upgrade their version of Windows 10 if they don’t update manually. If you have version 1903, you’ll be forced to upgrade to version 1909 later this month. If you have version 1909, you’ll be forced to upgrade to version 2004 by spring of next year.

An increasing number of websites are asking visitors to approve “notifications”— browser modifications that periodically display messages on the user’s mobile or desktop device. Increasingly, these seem to be ads that pop up, often in the lower right corner of the screen. I suggest you choose not to get these notifications.

Both iOS and Android have many accessibility features that can make your use of their devices much easier. Visit to find links that will allow you to do more without having to use your fingers on a small screen.