Decade Wrap-up

A whole decade has passed since 2010. Where has the time gone? A lot has changed with technology and the tech industry in the last 10 years. This article explores some of those changes in ransomware, net neutrality, social media, and the Internet of Things. 

Ransom, What?

Ransomware is a nasty malware that either locks users out of their devices or blocks access to data by encrypting the user’s files until a ransom is paid. Most commonly, people fall victim to ransomware by clicking on a link or opening an attachment in their email. The ransomware is downloaded to their machine and takes over and encrypts all data files on the machine and network shares the PC has access to.

 According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC), ransomware cost victims in 2017 around $2.3 million and that’s only the number of reported incidents. These cyber-attacks really picked up in the mid-2000s when new malware and more difficult encryption algorithms were used. 

 Also in 2017, two major ransomware attacks almost took over the business world – Wanna Cry & NotPetya, with the award for the worst ransomware attack in history going to WannaCry. The attack affected many systems worldwide and it maliciously used hacking tools leaked by the National Security Agency (NSA).  NotPetya was not far behind WannaCry in delivery and scope.  

Net Neutrality, The Future of the Internet

Net neutrality has been a hot topic over the past decade. The idea behind it is to keep the internet service providers from discriminating against certain data passing through their cables and cell towers. For instance, companies such as Comcast and Verizon shouldn’t be able to block or slow down your access to sites like Skype or Netflix with the idea of trying to persuade you to keep your cable package or buy a video streaming service. 

 During the Bush and Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission worked to enforce net neutrality.  In 2015, the FCC successfully passed a net neutrality order which was undone in 2017. What is the future of net neutrality? That is mainly up to Congress, the courts, and states. So far several states have passed net neutrality laws such as Washington, Oregon, and California. It will be interesting to see how the net neutrality laws develop in the next 10 years.

Facebook + Instagram + Twitter = Social Media

We are in an age of ever-evolving social media. Just a decade ago, sponsored ads weren’t popping up all over our newsfeeds. There was not a wave of social media influencers like there is today. 10 years ago only professionals edited photos and live streaming didn’t exist. Apps such as Tumblr and Vine, which became popular at the beginning of this century, are now things of the past.

However, their legacy lives on as is the case with Vine, which introduced short videos. Facebook went from having a Wall to the Timeline. Twitter now allows for the sharing of videos and photos and the word “tweet” has become so much part of our culture it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. TikTok has grown in popularity to where it has hit the 1 billion mark for worldwide installs. The future of social media is still unknown. Will Facebook stay the social media giant it’s been for the last 10 years or will some other app replace it? Only the future will tell.

The Internet of Thingys

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects devices all around us. IoT went from 900 million connected devices in 2009 to surpassing the number of people on the planet with 20 billion estimated devices in 2020. IoT devices include everything from smart toothbrushes that give you updates on your oral health habits to self-driving cars. 

The biggest issue with all this connectivity is how vulnerable these IoT devices can be. For the future, IoT devices need to have security features incorporated in them from the beginning including encrypting user data and using separate networks instead of public internet to ensure safety.  Perhaps there will be legislation passed to ensure all loT devices have these security features.

What does the next decade have in store for us?  Perhaps we will see the first hovercar. Maybe we will eradicate ransomware, net neutrality will make new political strides, and everything from our shoes and our clothing will become connected to the internet. Who knows what the future holds.