Fluidity of data is the goal of every savvy modern computer user. The cloud—a hipster buzzword which will no doubt replace its synonym “the Internet” by next Christmas—is quickly being leveraged to contain all the data we need.
The cell phone, the tablet, the big screen television, the netbook, the laptop, and the desktop computer are all connected to the same essential information: all are connected to the same email account. All feature an app that connects to our local bank. All link to the same Evernote account where we keep our shopping list. All stream movies through Netflix, Hulu Plus, or a proprietary service for renting movies and television. All link to our presumably massive music collections, whether in iTunes or Amazon mp3 or Rhapsody or Google Music.
It is all there, it is all out there, and it is all up for grabs. Our credit cards and banks give us bonuses to “go paperless.” Our file cabinets sit empty as we trust our online bank account to store our bills and tax records for good. Writing checks is a thing of the past: we have set up automatic payments for every bill in our lives short of rent. It is fascinating to watch how “currency” has changed in the past couple of decades: as the gold standard was ended in the seventies, everyone was paying with cash. As time went on, we depended on credit cards and checks, then debit cards, and now simply the numbers on our debit cards as we make all our in the cloud—or on machines that instantly send information to the cloud.
With that, it is absolutely vital to understand the security risk posed by using our smart phones. If you have achieved mobile zen by throwing all valuable data in your life into the cloud, then you need to ensure it’s protected.
The News of the World scandal should have been a wake up call for the ages: not only were some of the most presumably secure cell phones in the world hacked, they were hacked shocking ease and regularity. Voicemails, text messages, personal information, banking information—all stolen. Easily. How much easier, then, would it be to hack your smart phone and steal banking passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, email addresses, etc.? It’s a wonder that identity theft isn’t far more common than it already is.
The moral is, protect your data. The best way to do that is by creating strong passwords, and by making them different from service to service. If you don’t feel you can remember thirty different passwords, then one strategy is to have a password you use for “fun stuff” like iTunes or online gaming, and another for the important things like banking or email. Change your passwords and pins often, and don’t give them out to your friends.
As more data gets tossed into the cloud, your personal life will become more vulnerable to hackers. There’s no way to shut the window on the Internet. Protect your data. Change your passwords.