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Frustrated by technology? Brace yourself for more in 2016!

2016 Tech Predictions

“Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, allowing us to do more things quickly and efficiently.  But too often it seems to make things harder, leaving us with fifty-button remote controls, digital cameras with hundreds of mysterious features and book-length manuals, and cars with dashboard systems worthy of the space shuttle,” writes journalist James Surowiecki.

I’m sure you, as I do, agree with his sentiments.

Technology is always progressing.  New gadgets appear on store shelves almost every day.  As soon as you buy one device, a newer upgraded version quickly makes yours obsolete.

So what will you see happen with technology in 2016?

I believe two major developments will affect our everyday lives.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will change how we interact with the world around us

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the next biggest frontier in technology.  It’s been developing quite rapidly the past few years, but 2016 may be the year it explodes into our everyday lives.

Gartner Research predicts there will be more than 50 billion IoT devices around the world by 2020 – just 4 years away!

Simply defined by Wikipedia, “the Internet of Things is a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which allows these objects to collect and exchange” information.

Devices you use every day will soon be connected to the world wide web.  You probably own some of them already.

Things like: locks on your doors that allow you to lock or unlock them remotely, thermostats that allow you to regulate the temperature of your home while you’re away, and light controls that allow you to turn them on/off or dim them without a switch.

Eventually, refrigerators will contain sensors detecting when you’re low on certain food or drinks and automatically reorder it for you.

The Internet of Things will integrate tech into almost every object we see or touch.  Its focus will be on consumer safety, security, health and convenience.

Increased security breaches cause the death of the password

It’s a question I dread having to ask my clients, “What is your password?”  Many times the response is a blank stare followed by, “I don’t know.”

Almost every website you access requires you to enter a password.

You want to place an order on Amazon or Zappos – enter your password.

You want to check your bank account or credit card balance – enter your password.

You want to access your email – enter your password.

You want to see what your friends have posted on Facebook – gotta enter your password.

Because none of us like remembering dozens of passwords, it’s okay to admit that you’re among the 55% of people who use the same password on multiple websites. 

Or maybe you’re one who writes your passwords down on a sheet of paper and leaves it next to your computer.  But never updates it when you’re forced to change the password for a website.

Increased security threats and breaches have stirred up serious discussions to requiring better, more effective methods to keep your accounts safe.

SecurityWeek magazine reports, “While the traditional username and password login method continues to be widely used on websites, devices, and applications, some believe that a more innovative approach to authentication is needed.  In fact, some companies have already decided to shed the need for passwords, including Yahoo, which recently announced that it is allowing mobile users to sign-in through a process called Account Key, which involves sending text messages for login confirmation.”

In 2016, I believe you will start to see more secure and layered forms of security that will increase your online safety.  With it, may come more inconvenience.

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Should You Be Concerned Using Your Credit Card Online?

Credit Cards

Long holiday weekends – something I look forward to every year.

It’s an opportunity for me to completely unwind and not have to really do anything but relax.

Black Friday morning shortly after 11, I was relaxing comfortably in my La-Z-Boy rocking chair watching TV. 

I glanced over when I saw my iPhone screen light up with a message.  My phone didn’t beep, so I knew it wasn’t a text or Facebook message or someone sending me a Snapchat.

Rather, it was notification from Capital One informing me my business credit card had just been authorized for a $149.79 purchase at FinishLine.com.  Considering I hadn’t been using my computer yet that morning and that my credit card was tucked safely in my wallet, I knew something was amiss.  (Plus, I don’t use the business card for personal purchases. 

So much for only relaxing the entire weekend!

I quickly called Capital One customer service to report the fraudulent activity.  I also explained to them the need to have a replacement card issued ASAP since this is the card used for nearly all my business purchases – including recurring bill payments, many of which would be attempted in three days .

Luckily, the phone call only took about 30 minutes of my time.  Now I could resume my important activity for the day – doing nothing!

When I’m assisting clients with their computers, the topic of the safety of conducting financial transactions online frequently comes up.

Some clients, like myself, never give a second thought to purchasing items from retailers’ websites, paying bills online, or transacting business on the bank’s website.

We consider the security protocols, the encryption settings, and other features to be sufficient to protect us the majority of the time 

Other clients, though, are either more hesitant or adamantly refuse to even consider the option of doing anything financially on the Internet – even when it’s with companies they trust.

For example, a client recently wanted to upgrade his computer’s antivirus protection to our Advanced Protection plan, which dramatically reduces the risk for a PC to become infected with viruses or malware by preventing you from going to websites known to harm your computer.

When I explained to him the process of doing so, and that it involved monthly billing to his credit card, he sternly said, “I’m not giving ANYONE access to my credit card or bank accounts.”

I understand the concerns of those who wonder if it’s safe to use credit cards online or do online banking with their financial institution.

Bottom line, yes there are risks involved.  But no different than other risks you and I take every day.

Think of how many times you expose yourself to risks in these scenarios:

  • You dine at a sit-down restaurant where the server brings your check and you pay him or her.  Do you think twice about handing your credit card to the server, who then walks away from your table out of sight to process your payment?

It would be extremely easy for a less than honest server to copy your credit card number, expiration date, and CVV code without you knowing – and then use it to make online purchases.

  • Do you have any funds direct deposited into your bank account?  Paychecks.  Pension checks.  Social Security payments.

Do you have any payments automatically deducted from your bank account?  Utility bills.  Insurance payments.  Car payments.  House payments.

If those institutions’ computer networks got hacked, the thieves could potentially get access to your bank account numbers.

I agree you and I must make wise choices and take safety precautions with our online financial activities. 

But you can’t live in fear – and totally avoid the conveniences technology offers you.

It would be akin to saying that because foreign or domestic terrorists might be plotting a sinister attack in a public place you or I frequent, we’re going to just stay home all the time.

Having made thousands of online purchases and countless other online transactions, this is only the second time one of my credit cards has had been compromised.

I encourage you – be smart, be vigilant, be proactive – but don’t live in fear.