As technology develops, users can take advantage of more options and power, not to mention all of the luxury that comes along with it. Life in the digital age is heavily characterized by that luxury, but it’s not without its own problems, some of which stem from much of the same technology advancements. That means that navigating the modern world successfully often depends on maximizing the benefits of current technology while minimizing the risks. Here’s what you need to know in order to stay safe in the digital age.
It’s a safe bet that just about everyone has some understanding of what spam is. For the uninitiated, spam is a slang term that refers to unwanted phone calls, text messages, and emails. The purposes of spam can vary quite a bit, but the point is generally to trick consumers into making a purchase or giving up personal information. Generally speaking, there’s no way to avoid spam outright. However, you can minimize the amount of spam you receive and, more importantly, you can know what to look for in order to protect yourself from it when you happen to receive it. For example, most smartphones can detect an incoming spam risk call and alert you to the potential danger. However, this is sometimes not possible, because spammers can “spoof” the phone number of someone in your area, disguising the origin of the call. A good rule of thumb is to never answer a phone call from an unknown number, instead opting to screen calls. This is especially important because, while you can simply not give into the demands of spam callers, answering these calls will only encourage future attempts from the same spammers.
In addition to spam, online interaction presents a wide array of potential threats in the form of cyber attacks. Much like spam, the underlying premise of cyber attacks is to get something from the target by illicit means, but the methodology differs greatly from spam. Not only that, but the tools and techniques of cyber attacks vary greatly from one to the next. The most commonly used method of cyber attack is malware. This is simply because malware is a passive method that functions not unlike a trap. Malware itself can have a variety of purposes, but they tend to disrupt the target’s device in order to either take control of the system or to simply siphon personal data for the hacker’s own gain. Malware is effective only insofar is it allows hackers to take a “set it and forget it approach,” but that can be easily countered by primarily avoiding malware hotspots such as unsecure websites and, more importantly, being wary of the content on unsecure websites when and if you happen to end up on one. Antimalware software can also help when and if something happens to slip under the radar.
Other methods are available to hackers who want to illegally obtain your personal and financial information, however, and many are more active and targeted than malware. Likewise, protecting yourself from the full gamut of cyber attacks will require an active effort on your part. First and foremost, you’ll want to engage in best practices, starting with proper password protection. The average password is easy for hackers to guess for the same reason that users are able to easily remember them. Creating a less intuitive password is a good place to start. However, it has become widely accepted that a password alone is woefully insufficient, so passwords are gradually giving way to multi-factor authentication that can enhance the security of your password by demanding an additional piece of certification in the form of a randomly generated, one time use, 4 digit code sent directly to your smartphone.
While today’s increasingly technological world provides plenty of convenience, it also opens up the average person to threats that they often don’t think about, let alone understand. These tips can help you stay safe in the digital age.