The secret to just about all things in life: start with manageable or agreeable amounts and repeat.

What am I talking about?

New Year’s passed recently, so we still have resolutions ringing in our heads. How many friends do you have who loudly proclaimed on January 1, that they just joined a fancy new gym or bought expensive exercise equipment?!  (Or, maybe it was you who made the claim?) Are they still keeping up with the impressive exercise programs? Typically, most people fail in their exercise programs because they choose the wrong program. If Bob doesn’t like lifting heavy things on bars, or staring at a TV while sitting on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere, then he’s probably not going to be inspired to keep going to the gym to do it over and over, for weeks on end until he gets in shape – even though he bought a membership at that fancy gym. But if Sue signs up at the Y because she likes swimming, then she is more likely to keep up with a schedule. In the end, who’s likely to be more successful in attaining their health goals? Sue, not necessarily because of a super strenuous program, but because she found something that she could do in reasonable doses over and over.

So, great, you’ll go to the Y and start swimming, but what does any of this have to do with security?

Actually, a lot. The majority of people consider anything to do with security to be boring, or they don’t like it because it slows them down in what they want to do right NOW. These folks may have all sorts of imposing security hardware and software on their computers, but you’ll note that they often disregard proper usage. They simply ignore warnings from their firewalls by clicking ‘allow all’, that is, if they have their firewall turned on at all. And Microsoft security updates? Why should they bother? Strong passwords with some sort of solid approach to password management? Not likely! And all of these folks want to maintain their ‘health’ –  keep their identities safe online and their personal data secure.

The better approach is to have basic set of tools that you’ll use: an anti-virus program (many include anti-spyware), a firewall and a password manager – and perform those security updates from Microsoft. That’s the minimum. If you’ve read any of the earlier posts in this blog, or the general news, then you know that password and phishing exploits happen too frequently to ignore. A password manager is now part of the basic kit. Start with these few tools, and learn to use them. You’ll see that it doesn’t require any more effort to learn how to use them than it does to click on ‘allow all’ to break through your firewall!

Once you’ve built the foundation for your security health, add more tools in manageable amounts and repeat.