At some point in the not-too-distant past, it would have never occurred to us to have a refrigerator that connects to the internet. As time passes, innovation in the technology industry is progressing in ways that most of us would never have imagined. The theme for Week 3 of Cyber Security Awareness Month is about the new reality of our ever-increasing connection to the internet. Smart cities, connected devices, digitized records, smart cars, and smart homes are all part of this new reality. While so many conveniences and benefits come along with these connections, we need to remember that online safety and security is still important. Our sensitive, personal information is the fuel that makes smart devices work. We need to be proactive to use these innovations in safe and secure ways.
Currently, it is predicted that there will be 50 billion devices with powerful computing and sensing capabilities connected to the internet in 2020. This means that people and their devices will constantly be in contact with each other and the physical and cyber worlds will be interconnected. People with malicious intent will try to take advantage of this.
There are two different types of threats when it comes to how our devices can be used against us. The first threat is when devices are used to do things they were not intended to do in ways that were never considered during production, so there may not be safety measures in place to protect against these uses. The second type of threat is when devices are used as they were created to be used but for the wrong reasons. As we continue advancing and innovating with technology, it is important that we learn to avoid misuse of devices.
Our devices are constantly tracking our locations, our internet browsing habits, and our interests, continuously collecting data about us. Have you ever noticed an ad on Facebook or Instagram or some other website for the EXACT same thing you were shopping for earlier? Or maybe you are traveling in a different city, and you notice advertisements for a restaurant located in that city. This data collection is used for targeted advertising. It is a good thing for the companies that are advertising because they know you are interested in something specific, or you are near a certain restaurant so you are more likely to spend money at that store or restaurant. It is good for us as consumers also, because we are shown only things that we are interested in, but what if this data that has been collected on us falls into the wrong hands? This is only one example of how innovations in technology can be exploited and misused. We must ensure the safety and security of ourselves and others as we continue innovating. It is important to be careful and vigilant in how we store personal information on our devices.
Google now immediately notifies users when they are on an unsecure website. If a site does not have an SSL certificate, the Chrome browser shows “Not Secure” in the address bar to the left of the URL. If you are on an unsecure site, it is unsafe to input any login credentials or credit card information. Keeping users informed is one way that we can protect people moving forward. While this is a step in the right direction toward securing our personal identifiable information, caution and good judgement is the best way to make sure that our information does not fall in the wrong hands.