Be a Critical Clicker

posted by Cathleen Mohr on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 in Unified Communications and IT Blog

I purchased my first Apple product a few months ago: an iPod Touch Fifth Generation. I capitulated after years of swearing off Apple, but the catalyst for change was that my step-tracking bracelet only worked with iOS technology. The purchase was further justified when my friends introduced me to a companion fitness app.

I soon discovered the functionality and convenience of certain apps—including my fitness tracker—were limited based on device settings:

  • This app would like to track your location? Is this okay?
  • You can’t use this function without the GPS feature. Go to your settings and turn this on.
  • Do you want to automatically connect to this network?
  • Automatically find active networks and stay connected?
  • Would you like us to remember you on this device?
  • Do you want us to be with you wherever you go?

My initial reaction was WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THIS?!? Of course I want to use the functionality—that’s why I have the device. I want to stay connected, because the opposite would be disconnected. I did want to be remembered, and I don’t want to go anywhere alone.

As I clicked through the questions, something began clicking in my mind. Wait a minute! I don’t like people to know where I am every minute of every day, and I don’t like that the information from the tracking can ultimately manipulate my choices. Take for example Google Maps. It amazes me how it can pinpoint my location and retrieve correct directions. What bothers me is that nameless other applications are using that data to keep track of my likes, purchases, internet behavior, and routines to profit off of me.

Now, in the age of technology and big data, it’s more important for us to strive to guard our privacy and to be informed decision-makers by habit. It is just too easy to mindlessly check through security question boxes. With October being Cyber Security Awareness Month, I challenge you to be aware and make conscious choices about how you set up and use technology. 

One of the most important questions to ask yourself when you are setting up technology is: “Are you deciding when to connect and when to be located?”

We are in an age where this isn’t always an option. So when it is an option—be sure you are making a thoughtful decision. I recently went to a conference and they had an app allowing me to pick my classes, find the rooms, and take notes. Instead of using the previously unpopular option of installing radio chips in the name badges to track who went where, attendees—including myself—gladly handed the information over via the app. The organizer’s desire for that information was disguised by the convenience of the application.

Endeavor to make informed decisions. Don't shy away from something just because it's difficult. Exercise your right to choose. Don’t click, agree, or participate in technology or actions unless you know it is the best decision for you.

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About The Author

Cathleen Mohr has been with GreatAmerica for nearly ten years in various roles on Legal and in Operations. She supports the Records and Information Management and Awareness and Training components of the company's information security and privacy program.

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