If ever there was a time of year to reflect on the little things that make life wonderful, it’s the holiday season. While friends, family, and food always top the list of things I’m grateful for, there is also a special place in my heart for the gizmos and gadget that also make life great. The internet of things (IoT) has literally given the world access to technology at our fingertips, allowing us to live well-connected lives.
But know that this well-connected life can also be difficult to navigate; the world of IoT and smart phones coupled with cyber safety can often feel like a complicated waltz. Once we take the necessary steps to ensure we’re safe online, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the apps that make our lives easier.
Since it is the season of giving thanks, here are the five apps I’m most thankful for this year. Some are well known, and some are welcomed new additions to the mobile world.
When I want to go to dinner with my friends, Venmo takes the pressure out of splitting the bill when it’s time for the check. Thanks to this free app, sending and receiving money from loved ones is simple and uncomplicated. The best part is, this application offers a two-factor authentication that will alert me via text or email if someone attempts to sign in from an unknown device. Talk about instant gratitude.
If you have loved ones all around the world like I do, it’s likely this application which makes it easier to connect with them. When a phone call simply isn’t enough, Skype lives up to its promise by giving me a chance to share cherished moments, in real-time, with loved ones far away. Calls are encrypted so private moments stay private. Just be sure that you’re logged into a secure network and ensure your connection is secure. If secure WiFi isn’t available, consider a personal VPN to help keep your connection safe.
It’s always fun to reflect during this time of year. When I’m feeling nostalgic for friends I haven’t seen in a while, Facebook can connect me with a click of a button. It’s great to share important life moments with friends via Facebook, as long as you remember to adjust your settings to “private” and only allow your friends to view your posts. In the world of digital oversharing, we all know Facebook is a culprit, but if we take the extra steps in securing our posts, I don’t see why we shouldn’t still enjoy it.
Planning a trip to grandma’s house this holiday? Waze will show you the way. If you spend a lot of time on the road, Waze is like a trusted companion to accompany you on your journey. With real-time traffic insights from other “Wazers”, it’s like having a personal travel guide. I couldn’t imagine navigating without it. But, always be cautious when giving other applications access to your location settings.
Food on demand—enough said! Not only does Postmates bring delicious food right to my home, it can also deliver my dry cleaning, or anything else I need at the moment. This app is the epitome of convenience; just remember to stay up to date on your software installments as a security measure.
We should all take a moment to appreciate the little things that make our lives easier. While we revel in the convenience of our apps, it’s important to keep these tips in mind to ensure your devices stay safe:
- Authenticate! If you’re using an application like Venmo, it’s important to set up your two-factor authentication immediately, to reduce the risk of having your account compromised.
- Avoid Risky WiFi. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, unsecured networks are an easy target for hackers to gain access to your devices. Steer clear of open networks because you never know who your data could be going to.
- Exercise safety on social media. It’s important to make sure your account is set to “private” and is only visible to family and friends. Cybercriminals know how to use the information you share on social media to gain access to your personal data. Make sure you know who has their eyes on your account.