You probably spend around the same amount of time on the internet as you do outside, if not more. Outside, you of course know what you are doing. For one, you know to be afraid of moving cars, not to walk on thin ice and maybe even what neighborhoods are safe and which are not. These things hopefully seem dreadfully obvious, but the digital analogs of these habits are anything but common which is why more than half of the US’ population was exploited last year and why the average cost of said hacks was $142 and a big headache. In this post I will outline the bare minimum you can do to protect yourself online and avoid becoming one of these victims.
Being safe on the internet is not as simple as installing a handful of programs and then going about your business. That said, if you are really here for the very bare minimum, these following programs make for a good start. As your browser will almost definitely be the mediator through which you access the internet the most, it is important that it is as safe as possible. To this end I will first recommend a browser and then two extensions. Secondly, I will outline proper account and password management, perhaps even more vital.
You will probably recognize Symantec as the company behind the rather awful anti-virus program Norton. Nevertheless, each year the company published a very interesting report detailing the cost of digital exploitation on consumers. This year’s compilation reported a total cost of 5 billion US dollars greater than the GDP of Iraq. I will admit that is rather an arbitrary comparison, but a colorful one. A more tangible number is instead the average cost of a single hack: $142 and nearly three full work days of ‘clean-up’ work for the victim. That might not seem all that bad but with more than half of the United States’ population affected, the numbers add up.
To me though, the demographics is the most interesting part of Symantec’s report and it is these numbers that this post concerns. Before reading the report, I assumed that my sweet great aunt to be at a substantially higher risk of being exploited on the internet than one of my Millennial (technically Generation Z) peers. However, according to Symantec’s report, it is entirely the opposite. 60% of Millennials experienced cyber crime last year while baby boomers and seniors were in fact the safest age groups.