Today we take electricity and the telephone for granted. It may feel as if they’ve been around forever, but the fact is long time frames transpired between the introduction of these transformational technologies and their broad adoption. In fact, it took 54 years between the introduction of the telephone and a 40 percent adoption rate, and 45 years for electricity to achieve the same. These long, slow periods of transition allowed for their safer and more orderly integration into our lives. Times are changing. When the smartphone was introduced in 2007, it took a mere seven years to achieve a 50 percent adoption rate. 

Digital citizenship

The rapid uptake of the mobile device is based in part on how much value we derive from them. We use these internet connected devices to manage our daily lives, find our way by foot, car or public transportation, entertain ourselves, stay connected via social networks, bank, shop, e-mail, text and even make the occasional call.

But our rapid adoption hasn’t always coincided with our knowledge on how to use the devices safely and securely. And yet, our increasing dependence requires that we all know how to secure these devices and understand how they work.  

At the National Cyber Security Alliance, we always start with the simple message of, “Stop, think, and connect.” Taking security precautions and thinking about the consequences of your actions and behaviors online is paramount. 

Safety and security tips include:

  • Keep a clean machine free from malware and infections by updating your device’s operating system and apps. Delete apps you no longer use.

  • Passcode protect your device. Use a hard-to-guess passcode to protect against unwanted access to your device and data if your phone is lost or stolen.

  • Secure your accounts by taking advantage of stronger authentication, or two-step verification (proving you are the account owner) when available. This could involve having a service text you a code to enter to access your account.

  • Think before you app. Make sure you understand how an app interacts with other data on your phone including your location, social network profile, etc.

  • Disable auto-connect features that might connect you to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks without your knowledge.

  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in text messages, social media posts and e-mail is one way scammers and cybercriminals steal information or infect your device. If you have any suspicions, don’t click on the link.

  • Have a remote wiping capability on your phone in case it’s lost or stolen. 

In October we celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which is devoted to helping everyone learn to be safer online. Being safer online brings confidence and peace of mind, allowing us to reap even greater benefits from our mobile devices as we connect, communicate and participate in our community.  

Together the steps we take to be safer make the Internet more secure for everyone.