How 2020 Has Shaped The Way We Live Our Lives
I’ve had such a busy morning! I’ve hunted down my favourite foundation, bought a puzzle mat, stocked up on special dog food for our naughty new puppy, ordered the groceries, made a few appointments and chatted with several friends. And guess what? I haven’t left my study – or changed out of my pyjamas!! Ssshhh!! Because it’s all happened online…
Are our 2020 Habits Here to Stay?
Of course, some of us embraced the benefits of the online world long before 2020 but the Pandemic forced almost everyone to replace our in-person activities and routines with online ones. New research from McAfee in their 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report shows that 72% of Aussies made changes in their online activities last year out of convenience which makes complete sense!
But what’s so interesting is that now we have these super handy new online routines in place – we aren’t that keen to give them up! McAfee’s report shows that 76% of Aussies are planning on continuing with online banking, 59% of us want to keep connecting with friends and family online and 55% of us remain totally committed to online shopping! Hear, hear, I say! I am absolutely staying that course too!!
But What About The Risks?
There’s no doubt that there is a lot of upside to managing our lives online but unfortunately there is also a downside – increased risk! The more time spent online, the greater the chance that we will be exposed to potential risks and threats such as phishing attacks, entering details into malicious websites or even becoming a victim of fraud.
McAfee’s research shows that we are aware of the risks of being online. In fact, 66% of us are concerned about the potential dangers of living our lives online with losing control of our financial data top of the list for the majority of us. And almost 2/3 (65%) of us are also worried about having our social media accounts hacked.
But pandemic life has meant that we are now a lot more comfortable with sharing information online. Whether it’s paperless transaction records, text and email notifications, opting to stay logged in or auto-populating forms with our credit card, this level of online sharing does make life so convenient but it can be a risky business! Why, I hear you ask? Because these conveniences usually only work when you share multiple pieces of your contact details. And the more you share, the greater your chance of being hacked or compromised. But the report was very clear – if we can make our online life more seamless then we are only too happy to share our key contact information! Oh dear!!
‘Why Would Hackers Want My Data?’
In addition to confessing that they don’t always take the necessary security precautions, Aussie consumers in McAfee’s report also admitted that they haven’t thought about why hackers might want their data. I don’t know how many people tell me that they don’t need to really bother with a lot of online precautions because they live a pretty boring life and don’t spend that much time online.
But this is a very dangerous way to think. Your online data is like a pot of gold to hackers. Not only can they use it to possibly steal your identity and try to empty your bank accounts but they can also on-sell it for a profit. But the majority of Aussies don’t stop to consider this with the research showing that 64% of Aussies have never considered just how valuable their online data is worth.
Hackers are ALWAYS on the lookout for new ‘up-to-date’ ways to exploit others for money. Don’t forget how quick they were to conjure up scams around COVID in early 2020 – it was just a matter of weeks before Aussies received phishing emails and malicious text messages with the aim of extracting personal information from vulnerable consumers.
But, encouragingly, 85% of Aussies said they would be far more proactive about managing their data if it could be traded as a currency.
How To Protect Your Digital Life
The good news is that there are ways to secure your online life and minimise the risk of being hacked. Here are my top tips:
1.Always Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Yes, it might take a minute or 2 more, but using multi-factor authentication is an easy way to add an additional layer of security to protect your personal data and information. Commit to using it wherever it is offered!
2.Use a VPN
If you live your life out & about like I do then you’ll be very tempted to use Wi-Fi. Using public Wi-Fi to conduct transactions, particularly financial ones is a big no-no! It takes keen hackers minimal effort to set up a fraudulent wi-fi service which could easily fool a busy person into connecting. Using a Virtual Private Network (or VPN) like McAfee® Safe Connect, is the best way of ensuring everything you share over Wi-Fi is safe and secure.
3.Sign Up For A Site Advisor
Browsing the internet with a tool like the McAfee WebAdvisor is a great way of ensuring dangerous malware is blocked if you click on a malicious link in a phishing email. You’ll have real peace of mind knowing you can manage your online life while someone looks out for you!
With 4 kids, 3 pets, 2 jobs – I know I could never get to the bottom of my ‘to-do’ lists without managing the bulk of it online. I often think I should send the internet an e-card at Christmas!! Of course, I understand why corners are cut and precautions are overlooked when we all feel so stretched for time. But just think about how much more time it would take if you were hacked and had to spend hours on the phone to your bank or if you had to reconfigure all your online accounts and social media platforms!!
So, you know what you need to do! Stay safe online everyone!
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