Our everyday lives are becoming even more dependant on the Internet and our online activity. We’ve become accustomed to inputting our personal information at a moment’s notice, and we no longer do a proper check into these websites to make sure they are safe, secure, and trustworthy.
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In a nutshell, we’ve become sloppy in the protection of our personal passwords, documents, and payment information, and now, hackers and scammers are taking advantage of it. The Internet has become a dangerous place to spend time on but most people are still not taking the proper precautions to ensure that they’re documents and information is not stolen or used.
2018 was a year filled with online privacy scandals and that has continued into 2019 at an alarming rate. Online risks are in the pop-ups on websites we visit, they’re in our email inbox, and they’re on the social media channels we circulate every day. At this rate, these online risks will continue to increase year after year, month after month until each and every one of us has been exposed on the Internet.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not waiting for that moment to come. Precautions have to be taken and I have taken them. I’m hoping the rest of the good people who spend their time on the Internet for work and pleasure will do the same.
It’s a constant battle to stay safe online and we all need to be aware of what is out there.
Nobody is Safe
We spoke with a few cyber-security experts, to hear their take on the growing concern in today’s environment. People need to be aware that everybody is at risk on the internet today. It’s not just like, if you have a smartphone, you’re okay, or if your laptop is from Apple and you don’t experience viruses so often, then you’re safe. The growing concern is that hackers and scammers are stealing people’s data without anyone even noticing it. We just had the Cambridge Analytica scandal and that was with one of the most reputable companies in the world today not properly protecting people’s information. The google home, Alexa, Siri, facebook messenger, Instagram are all listening to your conversations every day and collecting data from it.
Privacy scandals over the last few years have involved some of the biggest companies and organizations with the highest security measures in place.
Facebook has been a constant target by professional hackers because of the money exchanged over the platform and the number of people signed up to the platform. Because of this, they have had some major issues over the last number of years and, because there is so much personal info shared on Facebook, they will remain a definitive target in the future.
In a 2018 report about the state of online privacy, 77% of Facebook users that were surveyed said they had almost no confidence that their data would remain private on the social media platform. Yet, more people than ever are on the platform and very few are demanding the platform to do more to keep them safe.
The United States Government
The government has even been a target for hackers and data harvesters over the last few years and it has caused some major issues. In the 2017 Equifax hack, 143 million Americans’ social security numbers were compromised.
If given the chance, the current president would lead us to an era of Internet censorship, but this is because of his believed bias of social media companies; not because of the dangers of hackers and data harvesters.
If the United States government is struggling to stay safe on the Internet, we are all in trouble.
It seems as though if people see others doing something on social media that they will do it without really looking into what exactly they are doing. The recent ‘Old Person Filter’ that went viral was a huge it and people openly obliged to having their personal photos exposed without even second-guessing themselves.
It left us all vulnerable with no defence – we openly allowed this to happen by letting the program access our photos and I’d wager that most people would do it again if it happened tomorrow. We are unaware of the repercussions, and we seem to underestimate the power we hold in our hands every time we pick up a smartphone.
People take convenience over security 9 times out of 10, and we input our personal info too freely. Our online privacy is more important than ever and is decided by simple taps on a screen while waiting for an appointment. Using our mobile phones
If we aren’t already aware of the dangers we are imposing on our own online privacy, then we need to learn very quickly.
Our personal privacy is more at risk now then it has ever been – even from when the Internet was first launched and it became a staple of our everyday lives. Our safety measures have increased, but so have the people who are on the other side of things – the hackers.
We are not only spending more time on the Internet, but we keeping more of our most important personal data and documents online. These are our most sacred files, like payment info, credit history, private photos, and we trust the Internet with them. But why?
In 2016, 4.2 billion files were stolen, which was up by 1 billion from 2013. In the 3 years since then, that number has increased even more.
Phishing emails have also increased in the last few years. In 2018, they went up by nearly 65% with 1.5 million new phishing sites being created each month. People have been too quick to click these emails, trust them, input their info, and because of it, they are getting hacked at an alarming rate.
More Risks, But No Changes
Our world is built around technological advances, and the Internet has been an integral part of that. It has systematically changed the way we live, communicate, make (and spend) money, learn, and so much more. The Internet is not the problem.
The problem is in the inability of the users to recognize and prepare for these risks. Rather than become more guarded, we are opening ourselves up even wider, like by using devices like Google Home and Alexa that are placed in the centre of our homes.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been a step in the right direction but it’s not enough. We need more protection and it looks like that will come from what we do as individuals to keep ourselves – and our families – safe online.
While many smart people are behind the hacking that is happening to us every day, there are a lot of smart people on our side that can help you protect yourself online.
The government and some of the largest organizations in the world are paying people lots of money to help keep us safe, and we all can benefit from that. All we need to do is be more cautious, and do our research.
Using a firewall or a VPN are just a few ways you can stay safe, and neither is very complicated. They are now being designed at such a high level, with both safety and ease-of-use being top of mind. Making these security systems more appealing to people has been one major change in the industry.
Protecting your digital presence is more important than ever and there is world-class software like VPN’s that are available for a reasonable price to keep these hackers at arm’s length.
The problem remains the fact that most people fail to see the risks at hand and are doing something about it. Take a few minutes to protect yourself before it is too late. You won’t regret it.