Protecting Your Data: The Future Is Now

If you could spend just a few minutes talking to your high school self about life in the future, how do you think your younger half would react? What would you say about this thing called the internet, or smartphones, or always listening virtual assistants or self-driving cars?

But then the conversation takes a dark turn as you explain crimes like hacking and data breaches and identity theft, telling Teenager You that your identity has been stolen repeatedly over the years by cybercriminals and scammers. You explain to the wide-eyed innocent version of yourself what credit monitoring is, and how you have to check your credit reports from time to time to make sure no one is using your Social Security number to commit fraud. You describe changing your email password every time someone hacks your account, sending spam messages to your contacts list.

There’s a good chance your younger version is tuning out, eyes glazing over, wondering about this dark future laid before you.

Fortunately, the future is not all that bleak, and technological innovation over the past few decades has certainly changed life for the better. However, wouldn’t it be great if you did have the chance to talk to a “you” from the future to understand some of the risks that innovation can bring?

Now that we understand the risks associated with new technology, we can start paying closer attention to how that tech can affect our privacy before a criminal can use it against us. Autonomous ride-hailing services, facial recognition scanning for identification, microchips implanted under our skin, medical devices that connect to our physical bodies while also connecting to the internet…there is an exciting world of change happening, and now is the time to think about how it will impact our personal privacy and security.

We’re coming up on an era when artificial intelligence (AI) will be implemented in far more ways than ever before. That means our every word, internet search, and social media comment can be used to help develop the “personality” of robots and to create a more customized approach to a very impersonal world wide web. Are you prepared to hand over the keys to your privacy? If not, how do you plan to protect your information and your activity?

Some future technologies may be required for practical daily life, like online forms for school registration and autonomous capabilities in our vehicles. Are you prepared to put your child’s identifying information on the internet in order to attend school? Are you comfortable with ride-sharing apps on your smartphone that can track your location?

It is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and that means exactly what the name implies: being aware of your personal data security and taking steps to make sure it stays safe. In this era of oversharing and connectivity, it’s important to be proactive about where your information goes and who can see it, both in the present and the near future. #OwnYourOnlinePresence


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: What’s Hiding on Your Credit Report?

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