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New Year’s Resolutions – There’s An App For That!

As the saying goes, it’s a new year, a new you. Around this time of year, people tend to reflect on the past 365 days and look towards improvement. While New Years Resolutions seem to be a longstanding tradition, how we go about them has changed greatly in the digital age. We now live in a world where we have access to just about anything imaginable on our devices. We receive texts from our loved ones, reminders from our calendars and we can even order groceries at our fingertips. It only seems logical that the next step with this tech is to help us to achieve our goals. However helpful this technology may be, it’s equally important to know how your tech of choice is using your information, and how to keep it safe. We’ve chosen the five most popular resolutions, and offer advice on how to keep the latest technology available for each protected from cybercrime.

Live a Healthier Lifestyle

A new you often starts with a healthier you. Luckily, there are a range of apps and connected devices to help you stay on track. For weight loss, there are calorie counters, BMI calculators, diet trackers and a plethora of other apps out there to help you reach your goals. For those looking to exercise more, there are apps that will encourage you to walk and run more often, wearable devices that track your heart rate and movement, and inserts for your shoes that analyze your running patterns. Safety Tip: Be aware of exactly what information these apps and devices are tracking by reading the Terms of Use and examine closely what the app requests access to on your device. Sometimes apps want to share information with another app, so make sure you know what both apps intend to do with that information, as it can be sensitive medical information. If the app for that connected scale wants access to your contacts and access your phone app, you may want to think twice about it.

Improve Finances

Many of us would like to have a bit more money stashed in the bank, and become more aware of spending habits. There is an overabundance of money management, budget and finance apps on the market today, so this category is best to do some homework on. These apps often connect to your bank account, credit accounts and even your credit report. Safety Tip: It can be handy to have all of this information in one place, however, be aware of exactly who you’re giving your financial data to by examining the Privacy Policy carefully. If the app intends to access your bank account, be especially diligent about how the app accesses that data. If it if it read only, that’s fine, but if it requests to make changes to your account, such as transfers from and to other accounts, it is probably not a good idea. This is very sensitive data that you should be keeping a watchful eye over and you should know exactly what the company intends to do with that data.

Find A New Job

According to Monster.com, the first quarter of the year is when a lot of companies loosen their budgets for new positions. There are a surplus of job searching, networking and recruiting apps out there. Most of these apps will allow you to post your resume and work history, and in turn, make that information available to other members of the service. Safety Tip: Keep in mind; this service gives a lot of people access to information such as your full name, residence, employment history, current location and more. Be sure to use a service that allows your profile to be viewable only by other members of the service, as this is information you do not what to have freely flowing on the Internet.

Fall in Love

If you can order just about everything under the sun online, why not order your soulmate, too? The New Year tends to get people reflecting on their lives, and this area will probably be one of interest for the singles crowd. Online dating apps are all the rage, and have been for quite some time- according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, more than a third of new marriages that occurred between 2005 and 2012 began online. Safety Tip: Chances are, a surge of new users will be flocking to these sites in January, but so will scammers looking to take advantage of lonely hearts. Be wary of Catfishing, and be sure never to give out too much personal information before meeting in person. As long as you’re street smart online, go forth and find love!

Get Organized

To do lists, calendar appointments, and grocery lists- oh my! With busy lifestyles, there’s so much to keep up with, as well as forget about.  Luckily, there’s an app for that. Quite a few, actually. Safety Tip: Keep in mind that with these apps come some privacy concerns, as they often request access to your calendars, contacts, inboxes. text messages and sometimes social media accounts. This is another instance where the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use of an app is important, as these will explain what the company intends on doing with the information you grant the app to use. For example, you don’t want these apps posting to your social media accounts when you have an appointment, as this information can become publically available that tells people when you’re not at home, which can make you a target for robberies.

While all these apps and devices appear to have good intentions, a lot of people may not realize what privacy issues come along with these tools. Closely examine what applications want to access on your device, and if it doesn’t make sense, reconsider using it. Luckily, there are many variants of all of these apps available, and many people that use them. So in addition to reading Privacy Policies, be sure to check out user reviews as well, as this may have some key information about how that app interacts with your sensitive data. While there are some great free apps out there, remember that as good as it may sound, sometimes free isn’t always free.