As 2019 comes to a close, this is a good time to consider what we see ahead for 2020 beyond economic and market issues.
Windward Wealth Strategies intentionally works to provide more than an investment strategy that is consistent with a client’s risk tolerance. We also help with tax issues, estate planning, charitable giving, protecting personal data and other areas that impact all of us. With that in mind, here are a few predictions and trends you can anticipate in the year(s) ahead, specifically related to all of us as consumers:
- If you’re flying in the United States after October 20, 2020, you will need a Real ID compliant card. An updated DHS driver’s license should have a star in the upper right-hand corner, or you can use a valid passport or military ID for travel. The Department of Motor Vehicles provides information on what’s required to obtain a new Real ID license.
- In addition to autonomous vehicles, facial recognition software and other uses of Artificial Intelligence, there are some other uses that aren’t necessarily beneficial. It’s worthwhile to know that AI is already being used for cyberattacks, including ransomware, identity theft and fraudulent financial transactions. Experts have shared that ultimately, the best way to combat malicious AI is with AI itself, which will adapt as cybersecurity evolves to avoid security “blind spots.” As consumers, we need to use common practices such as: using and continuously updating antivirus software; being on the lookout for suspicious emails from trusted sources, like companies you work with; using complex passwords and/or a secure software password protection program (like Keeper); and checking bank and other financial data regularly for any inconsistencies. Cyber experts anticipate that AI and speech technology will be used to exploit consumers with phone calls that will have the recipients believe they are talking with a person they know or a representative of a company they have a relationship with. Nationally, a bipartisan bill (TRACED Act) to protect consumers from robocalls passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate soon. Shortly after, the President will likely sign it into law. This will place more of the responsibility on wireless service companies to provide greater security protection for mobile phones.
- Disinformation and fake news are spreading in the public and private sectors and being used as a weapon by nation states. In 2020, we will see more of the stark reality that deep learning algorithms can bring, using seemingly realistic images and videos. Be wary of this type of activity, especially through social media. As one example, many Facebook® and Instagram® users saw fake news involving celebrities who supposedly left their regular work and have started their own clothing or cosmetics companies. Those behind this disinformation hoped to steal user data when they logged on to a linked website.
- One of the most significant issues in the future is what governments throughout the world will do to protect our privacy. Will privacy become a top-level priority, and what are the implications for enterprise data management? Advertisers on Google®, Facebook and Amazon® have been using data for some time to target customers. Google’s recent acquisition of Fitbit®, in particular, means the tech giant has access to years of fitness and related data for tens of millions of consumers. The questions is: what will they do with that data? That’s just a singular example of data mining that will surely continue to be exploited.
Protecting personal data and preparing for changes in technology requires knowledge of what tactics hackers use and vigilance in protecting one’s personal information. You may already be using some of the following tools or doing your best to avoid certain risks, but here are some recommendations:
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi or use it sparingly only for sites that don’t involve secure access.
- Immediately delete any emails from sites that you suspect may be represent phishing.
- For desktop computers and mobile devices, use auto-lock to keep your device safe from unauthorized use.
- Use two-factor identification whenever it’s available for banking and any other financial transactions.
- Access the site “haveibeenpwned.com” to find out if any of your email addresses (assuming you have more than one) have been hacked.
- Change passwords regularly, make sure they aren’t all the same and consider using a password encryption program for desktops and mobile devices.
- Make sure your home wireless network is set up with a secure password.
If you have any questions regarding personal security or if you want to review any security or related issues in greater detail, please let any of us know. Have a happy and safe 2020!