Just like trying to lose those last five pounds or promising to get to the gym more often in the coming year, the best 2011 New Year's resolution for small-business technology is much same as it was in 2010: Take the security of your business seriously. Here is a list of simple steps small businesses can take -- but often don't -- that can make their firms safer in the new year.
1. Change your passwords -- all of them.
Now is the prime time to systematically go through your business accounts, cash cards, debit cards, online bank statement, accounting software and other business tools and update the passwords associated with each account. The trick is to make a consistent a high quality password with at least eight letters that is a mix of capital and lower-case symbols, punctuation marks and numbers. Then, step by step, go through your work day, updating each password so it the same. You should find, slowly but surely, all your passwords will be newly secured with a single phrase you can remember. It's simpler and safer. And that is a good thing.
2. Close down dud emails, business software and social networks.
Do you have your business Twitter feed on your mobile phone but never look at it? Or do you keep old Yahoo account from college but never use it? Or do you have a debit card with $13 on it? The new year is the time to close them all down. Besides being pure clutter in your office, these vestigial services capture remnants of your identity that can be cobbled together and stolen. A refrain for security is: If you are not using it, get rid of it.
3. Shred your documents.
If you have not invested $35 in a basic shredder, say, a Minimate from Staples, by all means do so and get in the habit of shredding everything you touch but don't need to keep. Shredding consistently keeps your desk uncluttered and your identity safer. It is also very satisfying to turn a pile of junk into nice neat strips of paper.
4. Don't forget your mobile phone.
The downside of the smart-phone revolution is most users are almost embarrassingly lax when it comes to securing these portable devices. All phones come with a password or other sign-in system. Use it. Also, secure your voice mail with a solid, updated password and track usage each month so you know your account is being used as it should be. It's also a good idea to install an active contact protection tool, such as a 1Password from Agile Web Solutions Inc. or Keeper from Callpod Technologies Inc. These place your contacts behind yet another password-protected phrase. And make your personal life that much more secure.
-- Jonathan Blum is the principal of Blumsday LLC, a Web-based content company specializing in technology news.