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Is the Digital World a More or Less Secure Place Now?

TMCnet Feature

May 20, 2014

Is the Digital World a More or Less Secure Place Now?

By Drew Hendricks

The Internet has changed the world, and continues to do so at an increasing pace. This means you have faster and easier communications, but it also means that you need to be more aware of the security risks and how they can affect you. Research has shown that digital crime is increasing - and that's just at the national level - but the online community is putting up safeguards and barriers as quickly as new problems arise.

The Digital Arms Race

The disturbing truth of security online is that it is a continuous battle of security over insecurity.

The malicious side is the instigator, and the "good guys" are playing catch up. Since there is no way to find a solution for a particular threat until that threat has been identified and exploited, you can never be prepared for the next big attack. What most internet service providers and computer security experts try to achieve, is reduce or eliminate potential security gaps. This cannot prevent you from accidentally clicking on a link, though, so there will never be a perfectly secure digital world.

To prevent a majority of known security flaws from being exploited, you should install software on your own machine. Most operating systems include firewall protection. This is a special structural program that runs behind the scenes, monitoring your network and Internet traffic and blocking unwanted sites or software. A good firewall program will alert you if you try to install questionable software, or even require you to agree to any computer changes before allowing them to be made.

Making the Digital World More Secure

The Internet today is much more secure than the Internet of 10 years ago. And what will be in use another decade from now will be safer than what you use today. The problem is that the only way to completely eliminate security threats is to make the digital world static, or unchanging. So long as things change and have to be updated or corrected, there will always be a possibility for security breaches or flaws. However, by checking with your internet service provider to make sure you are getting the level of security you need and going an extra step to make sure your own Internet security software is suited for you, your online experience is as safe as you can get today.

To make things even more secure, data encryption is becoming more widely used. Using encryption, the data that gets passed between your computer and a website is as secure as it can be made to be. Hardware encryption, such as TLS, or Transport Layer Security, and SSL, Secure Sockets Layer, prohibits interception of data by opening a direct channel. Think of TLS as a special code, and SSL as a tunnel that leads from you to the website you are using. By combining that tunnel with data encryption, intercepting the data would be pointless without the encryption key that only you have.

Today's Digital World is More Secure

Today's digital world is more secure at the micro level. It's the big companies being targeted mostly now and that can hurt millions of people at once.

Every new piece of software may have limitations, but you do not have to worry that your every move is being monitored. Even when you hear about some new digital breach, experts in the field are already working out a solution by the time the news has reached you. Some of those fixes will be put into place without you having to do anything at all.

Even though it is constantly changing, today's digital landscape is more secure than it has ever been, and getting more secure as time goes on. There are not any absolute guarantees, but every flaw or breach that is found eliminates another channel for malicious behavior. The key is that you have multiple steps of protection, including your machine, your ISP, and the website you connect to. You cannot be overly cautious, so take advantage of the best security features you can get.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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