Review your Tech for the New Year

As any arbitrary point in time, the start of a new year is as good as any to do those activities which ideally are done regularly, but often only happen annually. Like checking the batteries in your smoke detectors, there’s a set of really trivial steps that anyone with any online technology interface can, and should do.

  1. Check back with online services you use and see if they now support Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA); enable it if they do. MFA comes in multiple types, from an SMS to your mobile, an automated telephone call, an app installed on your phone that generates a unique code every 30 seconds, and offline hardware devices such as a Yubikey (FIDO2).
  2. Uninstall programs you no longer use. On Windows, go to Add or Remove Programs and review the entries. On Debian and similar, “dpkg –get-selections |grep installed
  3. Update those programs you do use, from verified authoritative sources. In particular if you have a Password Manager (take a backup first!), web browser, email client.
  4. Ensure all OS patches are installed. Your OS should have support for this, but some patches may be held back.
  5. Update the firmware on your home WiFi router. If your ISP provided you with the router, then ask them for the updates and how to apply them. If there are no updates for the last 4 years (eg: since the WAP2 Krack attacks), then go buy a new one that will come with firmware updates from the manufacturer.
  6. Update the firmwares on your printers, network security cameras, desk phones and any other devices you have.