We like speed. We like things to get done fast. We like to check things off our list. Now.
That’s probably why we like the Internet so much.
Some of us still remember the dial-up days and can truly appreciate how wonderful it is to click on a button and have the site open instantaneously. Need a book? A shirt? A gift? A new car? No need to go out shopping; pull up the web, find what you want, click “buy,” and it’s yours. Need to send a message but not – horrors – have a whole conversation? The internet makes that easy too and no need to mess with dialing all those numbers or addressing an envelope.
Fast. That’s how it’s done and that’s how we like it.
Sometimes, though, in all that pell-mell quickness, we forget something that we absolutely can’t forget online: caution. A healthy dose of caution, whether you’re reading email, shopping, communicating with friends, or doing online banking, goes a really long way towards avoiding scams and phishing attacks.
So consider this your “call to caution.” No tech advice, this time. No specific schemes to look out for. Just an encouragement to slow down because the bad guys are counting on your “need for speed.” It’s our rush and impatience that causes us to overlook some of the most obvious signs that something online isn’t quite right. A misspelled URL; a webpage that looks a little different than it usually does; a message from a friend that – somehow – doesn’t sound like your friend. Maybe it’s a too-good-to-be-true deal at your favorite retailer or a threatening email from your bank that has some obvious misspellings and grammatical mistakes. Any of these things should trip your “caution” alarm and, at the least, cause you to take an extra minute to be sure everything is normal before continuing.
Because, really, you know the rules by now: “don’t click on unexpected links or enter your information on untrusted websites.” But in our rush to get things done fast, even the most obvious advice can sometimes be forgotten. We need to train ourselves to listen to that little alarm in our heads and heed it’s warning.
The bad news is that even the most tech savvy, watchful internet user can be duped. But there is good news. Slowing down and nurturing a healthy sense of caution can eliminate lots of potential problems, and the cost is slight. A few minutes here or there to check things out can go a long way towards your security.