Padlock / code / hacking

Why 2019 could finally be the year people start taking cybersecurity seriously

There’s been no shortage of security and privacy incidents over the past year. It’s actually gotten a little ridiculous how often we hear about another data breach or cyber attack. That could end up having one of two effects. Either people will start caring about keeping their data safe online…or we tune it out altogether. I think it’ll be the former – here’s why.

Cambridge Analytica. The General Data Protection Regulation. Net neutrality. A surge of new, next-generation ransomware.

2018 was quite the year for cybersecurity – and even more-so for the average consumer, who has now been bombarded with so many messages about privacy, security, and data protection they’ve likely lost count. I know I have. Between the (unsurprising) revelation that Facebook was allegedly misusing our data for years and the flood of emails ‘committed to our privacy,’ it’s easy to get burnt out.

And maybe a few people will.

But I believe the majority of web users, at least amongst millennials, are now more security-conscious than ever. We’re starting to care more about our privacy. We’re starting to take a more active role in how our information is collected and processed.

And with that empowerment comes the realisation of why we should keep ourselves and our data safe online. People are, as a whole, starting to understand what happens if they don’t. They’re starting to realise the inherent danger in a digital world, where the sum total of your life can be downloaded from an unsecured server with a few clicks.

Consider, for example, a 2017 Gallup survey of millennials – currently the largest generation. In it, it was found that they are more aware of potential security threats, less likely to trust social media companies with their data and likelier to expect companies to keep their data secure. At the same time, 70% of people expect that privacy will be compromised as we move forward.

This increased awareness coupled with high-visibility scandals like Cambridge Analytica creates a perfect storm. Especially now that regulatory bodies are cracking down, I estimate people will soon be keener than ever on seeing and understanding where their data is going (and how it’s used). Before the year is over, I think we’re going to see a significant shift in public opinion – a significant shift in how the public engages and interacts with cybersecurity.

Of course, there will still be people who are more interested in downloading the latest browser game than they are in questioning how that game uses personal information. That’s one thing that will never change. There are some who will never care about how their data is used.

Even so, I’d like to think that those people will soon be the minority. That in light of all the scandals, trials, and tribulations we’ve seen on the web in the past year, we move forward to something better. That as we move through 2019, we’ll finally start treating privacy and security with the respect and care they are due.

Photograph by Typography Images

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