by Izaak Garcia

Do you know if your personal data is safe online?

When we think of security, thoughts of home defense systems or locked doors may come to mind—perhaps the odd gated fence as well. But a lot of the time, we fail to think of a different kind of security that are more virtual in nature. People spend so much time ensuring that their physical property is safe they often neglect to think of their virtual property: the data and information stored online. 

In a world where the internet holds a gigantic amount of digital information that is growing by the second, with billions of people having access to that information via their smartphones and devices, the need for information security is essential. But what people may not know is that there is more being stored online in your digital footprint than your personal high score on Candy Crush. Phone numbers, email addresses, bank account numbers, social security numbers, and much more can all be accessed online. Without the proper protection, that information can be stolen in a heartbeat. Just looking back in this last year, according to Forbes, over 280 million people have been affected by some sort of data breach, from having to reset a password to having their entire bank account being drained. And it’s not just careless internet users being affected by these breaches. Companies suffer major revenue losses due to cybercrime, losing an estimated 1.79 million dollars per minute (Info Security). Sounds crazy, right? Well, not so much. The number of cyber threats faced by individuals and companies is massive. With vicious malware (files that disrupt a computer) and other attacks being sent out every minute, there are bound to be data breaches that result from human error. For a hacker, these individual mistakes are like a golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s Cyber Chocolate Factory. 

There is good news, though. Like with all attacks, there are ways to repair the damage, and even prevent them from happening in the first place. Companies around the United States (and even around the globe) are starting to allocate more resources towards cybersecurity, investing in consultants, network security managers, and upgraded systems to defend their information. While corporations have been fortifying their organizations for decades, digital security is a relatively new concept on the individual level. But, the good thing is, it’s not just companies that can employ better methods to protect their valuable data. Everyone can! In the past, security used to be as simple as picking your pet’s first name as a password and using it for everything. Now, it’s a lot different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. Safety measures such as a longer password, two factor authentication, and certain VPNs (virtual private networks) can help deter an attack long enough for it to be stopped, or to discourage it from happening. We all want to protect the things we hold dear to us, and with this information, and these methods, we are one step closer to securing what we love.  

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.