Growing up, my mother had a giant cell phone, and she would charge it with a traditional looking phone cord she would plug into the cigarette lighter of our family’s Jeep. I feel like she barely used the cell phone, but I certainly remember it being there. I have fond memories of using our home phone to call friends for hours at a time. And does anyone else remember dial up and how you couldn’t call anyone if someone was on the internet?
Smartphone usage has completely changed the landscape of how we interact with each other and as a society, we are definitely addicted. Statistics back this claim up, showing that car crash numbers have risen with smartphone and cellular phone usage, and that almost all United States drivers text and drive. Smartphone addiction has propelled mobile device usage even further into the future, and there’s no doubt that the majority of us are extremely dependent on them.
Our phones are mini computers now, and they keep us connected to everyone at all times. An entire industry has been built around them. They have their own key chains, camera mounts, and someone even started making cell phone lockers! It’s odd to think how far we’ve come in the last two or three decades with these things. However, this has also meant forfeiting a lot of our privacy to ill-intentioned people — including our own government — leaving us with some serious concerns. At the end of this article, you may be asking yourself if you even want a smartphone anymore.
The Government is Watching
There is absolutely no doubt that the government is watching us through our smartphones and mobile devices. Not that government officials themselves know much about cyber security or concern themselves with it — the Trump cabinet, for all of their harking about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, is especially guilty of this. Regardless, deeper down the rabbit hole there are people who can and will see what you do on your device, at any moment they please.
Unfortunately, any webcam-type device you have can be used spy on you. Your smartphone camera, your computer camera, and anything similar can be reached by those with the right technology and access. Believe it or not, the best way to maintain privacy with these devices is by literally covering your camera with a piece of tape. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
The trend of no privacy from those in power gets worse with this last year’s ruling which allowed for ISPs to collect and sell your data and information from your internet activity found on your computer, your smartphone, or any of your other devices. This is easier now than ever for them since there are more cameras and devices connected at our hips every day. It’s clear that the government would rather protect their own power than the privacy and rights of this country’s citizens.
While mobile device usage is the norm now, ask yourself if it’s essential, and how comfortable you are with possibly being watched at all moments. It’s not a matter of what you’re hiding or not hiding, it’s a matter of what rights you have as a citizen and what power the government has being in power. However, these privacy threats come from outside of the government as well.
Cyber Security In General
It’s not just the government that’s invading your privacy under your nose; corporations do so all the time — hence why you see certain ads online catered to your interests, or spam e-mails. Even a/b testing for mobile apps can end up tracking your behavior. The weird thing about cybersecurity is it’s actually something not a lot of people care about. In fact, 68 percent of corporate decision makers decided to make cybersecurity a bigger priority for themselves only this last year (2017) due to finally realizing the threat cybercrime is to their own companies. Whether or not they actually did was another issue. The point stands that people just didn’t care about it, and there were certainly repercussions to this carelessness.
Some would say that a third party backup system, through the power of the cloud, would be the best for businesses and customer data. The problem is who do you trust to keep your information safe over the cloud? And as we’ve discussed, is it ever actually safe? We personally recommend never putting your information on the cloud, but if you need to be very careful with what parties you trust with it. Even the so-called invincible information gatekeepers can be defeated, and we don’t want another infamous Apple Hack of 2014.
AI and the Future
As the future goes and technology gets smarter, I’m not totally convinced it won’t get out of our control. Google’s DeepMind AI taught itself to walk in late 2016. It was told to go from Point A to Point B and given three different bodies. That’s it, and it developed walking on its own with all three models.
We’ve already seen some pretty creepy things from AI over the years in similar test runs. I worry that the government is working with such advanced technology that bigger, more complex AI programs will learn too much and someday we won’t be able to control them. If it sounds silly, like from a movie, that’s understandable. But follow me for a second.
All of our information that is on our devices is potentially accessible by other technology remotely. I don’t want to jump the gun too much, but the more powerful technology gets and is able to develop itself, we may see our information making its way to different places we don’t expect — and not because a human commanded it to.
How do you expect our political situation, along with the natural progression of technology, to change for our information security and privacy in the future? Discuss this in the comments below.