iThink | Clear eyes and minds for 2020

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On my first day back at work after the holidays, I chatted with my team members to ask about their New Year’s resolution. I mostly heard the usual:

  • Get back to or start exercising
  • Going vegan
  • Saving more, shopping less
  • Waking up earlier
  • Learn new skills – either musical instruments or foreign languages

These are all good, and if they follow through, would certainly contribute to their growth and improvement as individuals. One response, however, stood out:

“Sir, eto na po yung taon na hindi ako magpapaloko.” (This is the year I will no longer let myself get fooled)

This was meant as a humorous take on rather disappointing developments in her love life in 2019, but I do think that this is a sound resolution that we could all apply in many aspects of life. After all, it’s not just in affairs of the heart that we encounter individuals who pretend to be someone they’re not, make promises they don’t intend to keep, or take advantage of your trusting nature.

Case in point: a 2018 study found that every year, reports on online scam attempts jump up by around 50% at the tail end of the year – right around the Christmas season. It would appear that scammers double down on their efforts to take advantage of holiday distractions to get what they want out of unsuspecting individuals.

These cyber criminals will use phishing emails, text messages, social media, or phone calls to try to catch people off guard and fool them into providing sensitive and confidential information that these crooks can then use to access accounts and steal their hard-earned money. 

Banks and other institutions have taken to investing in sophisticated security systems that are harder to hack into, so cyber criminals have resorted to trickery by going after ordinary people like you and me. They do this because, as all experts I’ve spoken with have said, the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain is typically the human factor.

Virtually every online security system relies on our log-in information to recognize us as valid users. This means that if you are tricked into revealing your username, password, security question answers, or OTP to an unauthorized person, and they use it to log in to your account, the system will have to recognize this log-in and everything they do to your account as valid and authorized activities and transactions. Once this happens, there is not much that can be done to stop or reverse it.

It’s almost enough to make one want to opt out of going digital (much like my teammate who is considering giving up on love entirely), but this isn’t the solution.

Opting out would deprive you of the many benefits, opportunities, and conveniences that the digital lifestyle offers – especially when it comes to online banking, shopping, social media, etc. For my lovelorn teammate, choosing not to love again would deprive her of the chance to experience the pure magic of loving and being loved by someone who actually deserves her. 

The real solution, I think, is knowing who to trust being responsible for and about the choices we make in every aspect of life. Remember that there are still many good and trustworthy people (and institutions) around us. Let’s all take the time to be cautious and do our research, so we can live life to the fullest, securely.

Let’s make 2020 the year of smarter choices. 

Happy New Year, everybody! Cheers!

The author is the vice president and head of corporate affairs & communications of BPI and is concurrently the executive director of BPI Foundation.

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