Is the Internet "Safe"?

The majority of our clients didn't grow up with social media, apps, and even the major influx of the internet as a whole. By the time it came around, it was introduced as a world-changing disruptor, and it is.

At the click of a button, you can learn concepts that required a trip to the library, a $100,000 education, or personal experience in the field. You can connect with people who you haven't spoken to in years. Business professionals can create the company of their dreams without having to leave the comfort of their own home.

But with such a radical lifestyle revolution, there are always drawbacks. Let's address one of the key questions that we've been asked an astonishing amount of times, "Is the Internet Safe?"

For those who didn't "grow up" with the major transition from a culture that emphasizes reading to one that focuses on computer skills, it's easy to see how this can be quite daunting. Over the past two decades alone, technology has evolved at an alarming rate, and it continues to expand at a faster pace every day. Many probably see it as an abyss with endless possibilities, but with just as many endless threats. And it's true.

But for every invention that mankind has ever produced, hasn't there always been give and take?

That's basically where we're at right now. But that feeling will never go away, regardless of the topic at hand. This brings us to economics:

Just like any novel concept, the technology adoption life cycle is just as prevalent. Your innovators will lead the way for change and advancement, altering society entirely. While the early adopters won't invent the change, they will definitely embrace it immediately as a new way of life. The early majority will follow once they know that the concept is performing well, and the late majority will follow them once they realize it's safe. Lastly, the laggards will join the rest, but only years, and sometimes decades later.

By then, it'll be long too late to compete on a meaningful level against everyone else who took the risk and embraced change early on. So, ignoring technology is more of a detriment to anyone on a professional and even personal level.

But is the Internet safe?

In short, it's as safe as anything else. If hackers want your information badly enough, they're going to get it, despite the safeguards you and your organization may have in place. But that's not always a realistic threat in the every day scenario. And if we're going to live life in fear, we might as well do nothing at all.

But this doesn't imply that people should throw caution to the wind. There are several every day solutions that we can take to ensure that our browsing experience is reasonably safe.

Anti- Software

Anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spyware. The software security industry has reached $22.1 billion and there's a very good reason for it [RY1].

In recent years, an astounding number of large organizations across multiple industries have been hacked, including Target, Equifax, and Uber. And more join the list every few months. While these solutions can be penetrated by even mediocre hackers, the average user won't have to worry about that.

Security software is a good way to ensure that you have a safe browsing experience without fearing that you'll wind up on a page or open a file that cripples your device. In addition, these solutions can protect you from fraud, allowing you to keep your personal information secure.

2-Step Authentication

Yesterday, I received a call from someone claiming that their LinkedIn account was hacked (the inspiration for this article). After 30 seconds of research, it was crystal clear that the account had in fact been hacked. While it's still unknown how the hacker gained access to the account, in a matter of minutes, they logged in, changed the password, and swapped out the email address.

This could have been prevented had 2-step authentication been set up. For those who aren't familiar with this concept, it's essentially an extra layer of security. The account holder links their device to the social media platform. When they log in, they receive a text message with a verification code. Alternatively, they can choose to receive a series of backup codes or implement a QR code scanner.

Since the hacker didn't have access to this individual's phone, it would've been nearly impossible for them to access the account.

Protect Your Information

Similar to life outside of computers, be careful with the information that you agree to share with the rest of the world. In recent news, Facebook has come under a ton of fire for feeding third-party data to analytics firms for money. Since those developments, Facebook has made efforts to enhance transparency.

For instance, it's now abundantly clear where users can control the information that Facebook has on them. Users can then opt to hide details that they don't want to go out into the world. Also, Facebook Business pages now include the "Info & Ads" tab, allowing users to see how businesses are promoting themselves.

Beyond social media, take steps to investigate online services to fully understand A) what data they need, and B) how they'll use that data.

Summary

Whether you take these steps or not, no one is 100% safe on the Internet or anywhere else. Once again, if someone wants your information badly enough, they'll usually find a way to get it, regardless of whether or not your business has a digital presence. But that doesn't mean you should make it easy on them.

For information on how we keep our clients safe online, send us a message at RizzoYoungMarketing.com.

Additional Reading

RY1: Statista, "Security Software - Statistics & Facts", https://www.statista.com/topics/2208/security-software/