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Cyber Safety New Year’s Resolutions – Adapting to the New Normal

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Sarah Nicholas

It’s time to cook up the collard greens, buy a new calendar and make a resolution for the new year. But this is the first time we’ve had to come up with New Year’s resolutions during a global pandemic! With more of us working and learning online than ever before, there might not be a more important time to take stock of your cyber health and make changes to protect yourself and your family.

Where should you start?

For you:
  1. Commit to cleaning your computer every 6 months. Our previous tips tell you how. Add a reminder in your phone if you need to.
  2. Update your passwords on your key accounts. Free services like LastPass can help you keep track of them from any device. You can sign up for either a personal or family account.
  3. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and schedule it to run regular scans that match your internet usage. If you’re a heavy browser, 2-3 times per week (even daily) is not overkill. If you’re a lighter user, weekly will work.
  4. Back up your most valued files to a remote storage service (such as Dropbox, iDrive, or OneDrive) or an external hard drive. You can find a suitable drive for roughly $20.
  5. Resolve not to click on suspicious links or open messages from people you don’t know – ever.
For your kids:

If you’re worried about your kids spending so much time online, even for school, you’re not alone. According to Lightspeed Systems, three-quarters of American parents surveyed are more worried than ever about their child’s online safety due to distance learning, cyberbullying and inappropriate content. Here are some steps you can take to limit their exposure, even as their screen time increases. 

  1. If you provide your child’s school computer, make sure their anti-virus software is up to date.
  2. Keep track of their credentials for their learning platform so you know how to log in and navigate it should you need to.
  3. Set parental limits on YouTube (enable Restricted Mode) and other sites. You might be surprised to find they have unrestricted access, even from school-issued computers.  
  4. Talk to your kids about the heightened dangers. The best protection you have in your arsenal is open dialogue. Make sure they know it’s OK to come to you if they experience something that scares them.
  5. Help them refresh their digital citizenship skills through programs such as The Center for Cyber Safety and Education’s Garfield Cyber Safety Adventures.

We’re all navigating uncharted territory right now. Perhaps the pandemic has given us the wake-up call we needed to protect not just our physical health but also our digital health. Here’s to yours in 2021 and beyond!

You can find many other helpful cybersecurity resources on our website. We also invite you to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter. 


Written by: Sarah Nicholas

Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education and animal rights and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.


Parents significantly concerned about online safety of children during remote learning (