By Erik Mazzone
Here we are a mere 60 days into 2017 and my many well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions are dead and buried with a fresh covering of rationalization and self-loathing.
I am wicked and weak.
Exercise, salad and watching less television are overrated, anyway, right?
Still, it’s a little depressing to chalk 2017 up to a total fail so early. There are probably some little things that I can resolve to do. Small changes and incremental improvements that have a chance of being sustainable. Things that might actually happen.
I am moderate and rational.
I’ve got my list of stuff to work on. If your resolutions have chalk outlines around them, as well, come on and join me with a few new ones of your own. Bonus points if they are useful or fun. We’ll call them our “almost new year’s resolutions.”
Here are mine:
Resolution 1: Maximize My Password Manager
I’ve extolled the virtues of using a password manager for a while. There are several decent options out there; I use LastPass, which (having recently been acquired by LogMeIn) also has the virtue of being free. I’ve been fairly consistent in using LastPass – I have most of my log in credentials stored in there – but I don’t use even half of the functionality it is capable of.
LastPass allows users to create multiple identities (think “work” and “home”, not “Sybil”), has an integrated security challenge to assess the strength of your passwords, can be set to automatically change your passwords on a schedule and save the new one, and has available, free credit monitoring on any credit card you store in it. In short, it does a ton of stuff that I am not taking advantage of.
Resolution 2: Use Two-Factor Authentication Everywhere I Can
Two-factor authentication is a digital security technique that allows users to combine (typically) a password with a second means of verifying you are who you say you are. Sometimes that second means is a physical token, like a USB-style key you carry with you. Other times it is a one-time password that is sent to you via text message or through a special app.
The idea is that it makes your accounts harder to hack, because even if a malefactor knows your username and password, he would still need to guess the one-time password on the first guess. Each wrong attempt and a new one-time password is resent.
Two-factor authentication saved my bacon (mmm, bacon) on one memorable occasion. This is the year I aggressively implement it everywhere I can.
Resolution 3: Start Using Encrypted Messaging
I send more text messages than any middle-aged man should admit to. It has largely replaced email for me for all but the most formal or lengthy digital communications. The relative security of the messaging services (Apple’s Messages, Facebook Messenger, What’s App, etc.) has come to be an important issue. 2017 is my year for picking an encrypted messaging platform and sticking with it.
Famously, Edward Snowden uses Signal. Maybe I’ll try that. Russia is so nice this time of year.
Resolution 4: Figure Out Snapchat
I confess. I don’t get Snapchat. The interface is completely non-intuitive to me. It seems pointless. I like virtually every other messaging service that I’ve used better than Snapchat.
It is the indisputable king of the up-and-coming messaging services. And I like keeping up with the march of technology. Even when it marches down a path littered with weird filters that put flowers and dog ears on photos. Because reasons, I guess.
Snapchat is my personal technological Rubicon. If I don’t cross it, I fear a steady decline as technology advances past my interest and competence. So, this year, I am embracing Snapchat, come what may. At least I will be able to pester my 13-year-old nieces.
Those are my almost new year resolutions. What’re yours?
Erik Mazzone is the director of the NCBA Center for Practice Management. His Snapchat name is emzzne.