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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Ring in the new year by debunking bad tech advice

Dec 22, 2022 11:21AM ● By Adam Cochran

One of the worst problems I see people do in regards to implementing and using technology is following obsolete advice.

The world “obsolete” is often used to describe something that has gone out of fashion or has been surpassed by something that works more efficiently. However, true obsolescence is when something either becomes totally unusable for the purpose for which it was designed, or because it becomes far more cost prohibitive, or even dangerous, than the alternatives that replace it.

It’s easy to identify when technology becomes functionally obsolete—when using it simply doesn’t make sense. 

Following obsolete technology advice can lead to major problems including identity theft, financial loss, limitations on access to public services and even health complications. That’s because bad guys don’t need complicated hacking software if they can use your own misconceptions and obsolete knowledge against you. 

Let’s begin the new year by taking a more informed approach to technological advice by getting rid of obsolete practices and ringing in the new. Here are some tech truths to keep in mind.   

Your antivirus doesn’t protect you from anything. Back in the day, antiviruses played key roles in defending you from the bad guys, but not anymore. The truth is that most modern computers have the latest protection built into their systems, which do a far better job of keeping your information safe. Web browsers, too, have their own built-in security, oftentimes surpassing antivirus capabilities. 

Early viruses were designed to cause problems. The virus creators often did it for notoriety, activism or to vandalize the digital space.  

Now creating viruses takes expertise. The skills used to write malicious programs are in higher demand by legitimate companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft than by organized crime or third-world political factions. 

You can’t stay off the grid. Prior to broadband internet, smart-phones, Google and Facebook, it was somewhat possible to keep a small footprint in cyberspace. Those days are gone. Now everything you do that creates a record is connected to the internet.

You have a complete and accurate digital profile in cyberspace whether you know it or not, and there is no way to delete it. Your online identity is made up of all the information that is shared and curated from your various activities online.

Shopper loyalty cards know you. A shopper loyalty card isn’t just designed to give you cheaper gas and exclusive discounts. These cards associate you with what you buy, how often you buy it, which sale items bring you back into the store, the days and times you typically shop, how you pay for merchandise, whether you have a family, etc.

The data these programs gather is even more useful if you use associated services like tire maintenance, pharmacy or the store’s online ordering and home delivery. Think for a minute about what last month’s trips to the grocery store say about you.

Staying offline gives bad guys the ability to claim your identity. Many people think that the best way to prevent bad guys from getting their information is to never intentionally put the information online. 

However, if you don’t put your cellphone number into Facebook when you set up an account, anyone with your username and password can access it and make changes. But when you provide your cellphone number, you will get a text with a unique password that will be required to change anything about your account.

Bad guys love getting into an online account where the cellphone number hasn’t been provided. They will immediately put their own cellphone number into that space. After that, everything about your account can be changed and verified by the person who holds the associated cellphone.

Two-factor authentication methods work. All forms of two-factor authentication are secure and reliable. If an online entity you are doing business with has the option to set up two-factor authentication, use it. Provide secondary email addresses and cellphone numbers, or use a specified app for authentication. 

It can be annoying, but the more ways a legitimate company can keep someone from accessing your account, the better. Bad guys will not be able to hijack an account unless they have access to your secondary authentication method.

Debunking technology myths and outdated advice

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