There are some days where I feel so lucky to have had no major virus infestations since I started using technology in the early 2000s.
My dad has worked with Windows systems since the late 1980s (seriously), and has always made sure that I’ve been up-to-date on security and how to keep both myself and my information safe. I learned MSDOS in the early ’90s (and there are some home movies in existence somewhere that show me accessing my “Jill of the Jungle” game from the black-screen-green-text PC) and how to use Windows once it was the OS du jour.
There were the anti-virus programs of the early 2000s with products such as Norton making sure users felt secure on their computers. We had Norton, and while the scans picked up viruses a handful of times, there wasn’t always a lot to find as I knew not to download content from unknown sources, click on pop-ups, or respond to those tempting emails from the Nigerian prince who just wanted my help with his millions.
And virus attacks were huge in the early and mid-2000s; an article in the BBC from 2006 states that more than 150,000 malware files had been distributed on the Internet. THAT’S CRAZY PEOPLE.
Phishing scams came on the scene next, and thousands upon thousands of people were asked to log into a website that actually sent their information to the phishers, who promptly logged in and took over their accounts. This was especially malicious if you thought you were logging on to your banking site, and people then had the very real feeling of losing money online — online poker came later.
While I was always careful and aware and, as I mentioned, have not lost a computer or important files since my introduction to technology, this reality is even scarier now than it was before. After university, after the part-time jobs and maybe jobs, I’ve landed squarely in tech as my primary means to make money, both as a blogger and at my 9-to-5 job. Now not only is my information at stake, the information and integrity of my company’s accounts are in my hands too. With the recent hacks and missteps by major brands with their social media accounts, it’s more important than ever to be security-conscious online.
So I beg you — educate yourself and make sure you don’t end up as part of the statistics! I love the Internet, in all its weird and awesome glory. But it can be a dangerous place if you’re not careful. Kind of like that sketchy club you love to hate and hate to love…