Internet’s Decade: Technological Transformation

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By Lim Suk Hua

The internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, shaping how we communicate, work, and access information. Over the past decade, the digital landscape has experienced significant changes, revolutionizing how we use the internet. There have been key differences in internet usage between now and ten years ago, with a particular focus on data tracking, mobile connectivity, personalized experiences, advanced malware threats, and evolving social engineering attacks. By understanding these shifts, we can navigate the digital world more securely and safeguard our personal information.

Heightened Data Tracking:

Compared to a decade ago, everything we do online is tracked to a greater extent. Companies across various industries are relentlessly collecting user data, aiming to understand consumer behavior, enhance targeted advertising, and improve their products or services. This extensive data harvesting raises concerns about data privacy and protection. It is crucial to be aware of the information we share online and take necessary steps to protect our privacy. Be aware of what cookies you are giving your consent on. 

Seamless Mobile Connectivity:

Mobile internet has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past decade, enabling us to stay connected through smartphones and extended networks. The emergence of 5G technology with its faster speeds and lower latency  further propels this “always-on” culture. This integration of 5G will significantly benefit IoT devices, enabling real-time data processing and smarter automation. However, the convenience of constant connectivity comes with increased risks. We must secure our mobile devices with strong passwords, use encrypted connections, and exercise caution when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.

Personalization through AI Technologies:

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies has transformed our online experiences allowing for personalized content and tailored recommendations. However, as the prevalence of AI grows, it leads us to uncharted territories. Among the advancements facilitated by AI, deepfakes stand out as a significant concern – these are software that utilize AI to create convincing digital forgeries. With the potential damage of deepfakes,  users should be mindful of the information they share online and review privacy settings on platforms to maintain control over their data.

Advanced Malware Threats:

In today’s digital landscape, malware has become increasingly sophisticated. Cybercriminals continually develop new methods to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to our devices or networks. Malware can be disguised as legitimate software, infected email attachments, or malicious websites. Android malware has also had a surge in popularity, primarily targeting mobile devices running the Android operating system, bringing extra vulnerabilities to smartphone and tablet users. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to adopt cybersecurity best practices. This includes regularly updating software and antivirus programs, exercising caution when downloading files, and avoiding suspicious websites or links.

Evolving Social Engineering Attacks:

Social engineering attacks, where hackers manipulate individuals into revealing sensitive information, have become more complex and deceptive. Cybercriminals employ psychological tactics and exploit human vulnerabilities to deceive unsuspecting users. Common scams include phishing emails, fake customer support calls, and fraudulent social media messages. Recently, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 found threat actors are increasingly using URLs as the leading method for ransomware delivery, accounting for over 77 per cent of cases.
To protect ourselves, we must remain vigilant and be aware of these common scams. It is important to verify the legitimacy of requests for personal information, be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments, and use strong, unique passwords for online accounts. 
Over the past decade, the internet has undergone a transformative journey, bringing immense benefits and posing new cybersecurity challenges. With increased data tracking, the ubiquitous nature of mobile internet, personalized experiences driven by AI, sophisticated malware threats, and evolving social engineering attacks, it is essential for individuals to prioritize cybersecurity practices. By understanding these changes and implementing proactive measures, such as using strong passwords, regularly updating software, and staying informed about emerging threats, we can enjoy the advantages of the digital age while safeguarding our personal information.

About the author: Lim Suk Hua is the Country Manager for Palo Alto Networks Malaysia. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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