How good things always seem to get ruined by evil people
Back in 1997, I bought my first computer that had a built-in modem and was Internet-ready. It was a Friday afternoon, and I had taken the day off. I went home with my new PC, set up my AOL account, and stayed up all night.
Don’t remember getting very much sleep at all over the next few weeks. Having the Internet was like traveling to a brand new world. All of a sudden, information about virtually any topic was at my fingertips.
I finally understood why the same thing had happened to my friends who went through the same thing before me. Before my internet experience, I just didn’t understand why people spent so much time online — but now, I too was addicted — and I fully understood.
Evolution of the Internet
Over the past 20 years, the Internet has evolved more than most things in our society. When I first signed online, my phone line had to be sacrificed. Unless you had two phone lines, no one could call you when you were on the Internet.
And there was the sound of the modem dialing up your connection — those modem beeps were the familiar trademark of that experience.
Then high-speed Internet service came along. It was revolutionary and was eons faster than the old dial-up service. All of a sudden, I could bust through about ten times as many webpages as I did before.
Next, we saw the rise of blogs — as opposed to the original websites. The big difference between the two is that websites are a collection of static webpages, and blogs are more like a magazine.
These new blogging platforms were much easier to set up and manage than websites were. This gave non-techies the ability to have a blog. All of a sudden, anyone could buy a domain, get a web host, and start publishing content as much as they desired.
The major search engines also prefer blogs over static websites. This means that blogs attract more web traffic, as well. This fact resulted in the surge of businesses and corporations jumping on the blog train. They recognized that blogs had become a low-cost way to drive their brand.
Blogs were the first significant platform that established the online interaction between bloggers and their readers. This is because blogging platforms allowed readers to make comments on their content. Readers began to realize that they had a voice, and they liked it.
Reader interaction was taken to new levels through the creation of social media sites. These social sites like Facebook, My Space, Twitter, and Instagram attracted millions to the Internet. More importantly, it empowered the average person as they had never been before. Everyone has a voice through these social media sites.
Additionally, social media sites provide businesses with advertising options that are more targeted than any other form of marketing in all of history. Ads can now be purchased that target customers with precise demographics.
Finally, the online experience was supercharged through the use of vibrant imagery and video. It was like the Internet took steroids when graphic capabilities were enhanced. We can now enjoy colorful and creative graphics as we surf our favorite blogs and sites.
Online video allows us to experience events from the other side of the world — that we would never see otherwise. Video also will enable us to learn specific tasks and information. The opportunities are endless for online videos.
Internet Attracts Record Numbers of Users
Perhaps the most foolish choice today is to resist the power, growth, and success of the Internet. For instance, there are business owners who refuse to set up a blog, there are old-timers who refuse to use email, and many other examples like these.
For those doubters, here are some facts that clearly illustrate the success of the Internet in only a few short decades:
- The world has 7.8 billion people, 4.5 billion of them are Internet users.
- Google alone generated $162 billion of revenue in 2019.
- Top 100 Online Marketplaces sold over $200 trillion in goods during 2019.
- Amazon alone sold over $275 billion in goods during 2019.
- Experts estimate that $582 billion will be generated by mobile apps alone in 2020.
And if you do a little research, you will find hundreds of more facts like these that validate the power and influence of the Internet.
Internet Attracts Evil Activities
Like with everything else in life, the Internet is not all rainbows and unicorns. Things as powerful and as massive as the Internet will always attract the most unsavory in our culture.
Here are 7 ways that the Internet is becoming more hostile every day:
Massive Numbers of Bad Bots Online
In 2014, Internet data told us that there were more bots online than there were people. Experts reported that around 60% of all web traffic was comprised of automated activities. And 23% of this automated web traffic was created by hackers and con-artists to conduct dirty work.
Sadly, these activities have only gotten worse. Over the past decade, these have not only grown in number, but they have also become more sophisticated.
While software can be instructed to do a variety of tasks, it is essential to note that these tasks can be either good or bad. For instance, Facebook uses bots to put images and content on your news feed. And Google bots are used to crawl blogs and websites to catalog the information so that we can find it faster on their search engine. These kinds of bots are a good thing and make their respective online environments better and more customer-friendly.
Unfortunately, hackers are creating bots to conduct all kinds of evil tasks. These include stealing content and posting it on randomly generated blogs, to stealing credit card numbers from eCommerce sites. Digital publishers are usually hardest hit by these bad bots.
Surprisingly, it is the smaller blogs and websites that are most vulnerable to bad bots. Hackers get the least security resistance from them, and they are perfect targets for personal credentials. Often, it is not money that they want from these small sites, because they are mainly looking for usernames and passwords.
Creation of Huge Corporate Monopolies
A big problem with the Internet from the start has been its tendency to create monopolies. Google has gotten so vast that it controls some 80–90 percent of all the search market in Europe. It has been repeatedly accused of breaking antitrust laws by the EU. And if Facebook were to be a country, it would easily be the largest country in the world.
These broadband monopolies have gotten so bad in the United States that roughly one-third of homes have just one provider to choose from. And these sole providers have gotten away with several questionable business practices.
We all know that monopolies are not new — they’ve been around for decades. But these new monopolies have achieved massive influence faster than any in history. And they pose a considerable threat to the Internet.
I’m sure you remember when the FCC implemented the net neutrality law. This law prevents the Internet from becoming a toll road where one fast wide lane exists for significant wealthy users, and a small dirt road that is backed up with traffic exists for the rest of us.
Immediately after passage of the law, we saw broadband giants like AT&T and Comcast start legally undermining it and attempting to take it down. Their efforts have paid off as the courts have already overturned net neutrality.
Online Outrage Has Become the New Norm
Have you ever gotten so angry over something or at someone online that you were ready to explode?
If so, then you are not alone. Outrage has become a norm on the Internet. And for those of us who either enjoy getting outraged — or getting others outraged — there are plenty of places to do just that. Most of these places are social media sites.
You can create false social media personas and then start insulting and taking potshots at everyone with which you disagree. The only thing is that thousands of other people have already beaten you to the punch. You and your phony Twitter account are probably fighting with someone else’s phony Twitter account.
These online rants get very hostile because 1) no one knows who you are, and 2) there are no repercussions for this behavior. The question should be: Why isn’t there more of this going on?
While this may seem like fun to some of us, there are many problems with this excessive outrage. For starters, it is muzzling free speech. People will quit voicing their real opinion if they will be bullied for doing so.
Secondly, and much worse, is that as a society — we are desensitizing ourselves. We get outraged over someone getting verbally attacked in a New York restaurant, yet say very little over human rights violations in the Middle East. We try to get someone fired from a major network for making an allegedly insensitive comment when they were in high school, and then ignore a homeless man getting brutally beaten on live video.
Astroturfing is Becoming More Rampant
Astroturfing is when someone creates a false impression that a policy has strong, widespread grassroots support — when very little support exists. Multiple web identities and false pressure mobs are created to deceive the public into thinking that a preferred position is the most popular view.
Since peer pressure is used, these grassroots movements can be extremely powerful because they are reflecting the will of the people. There is no ulterior motive or filter at work; there’s only a natural effort to bring about change.
Over the past few years, business people and especially politicians have recognized the power of grassroots movements and attempted to harness it by any means — even if it means creating a phony movement.
This new astroturf approach is a direct result of what the Internet can offer someone desiring more power. People that are motivated only need a few operatives and a handful of computers. With these two items, several legions of supporters can magically appear out of thin air — for minimal cost.
Blogging and Twitter alone can echo the voices of millions of these “magic” supporters in a speedy fashion. Yes, there have been some attempts at shutting down and censoring these false movements, but quite a number of them have become permanent fixtures.
Sharp Increase in DDoS Attacks
A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is when someone seeks to render an entity on a network unavailable to users — such as a website. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is when such an attack is spread across several unique IP addresses — or even devices. All of these unique sources are aimed at one or more targets. The goal is the make the target collapse under the traffic surge.
DDoS attacks are the easiest and quickest way to shut a website down. Scrupulous marketers will often attack their competitors in this fashion in an attempt to take away their market share.
Akamai Technologies put out a 2014 State of the Internet report that discovered DDoS attacks had gone wild that year. The attacks had increased a mind-blowing 90% over the previous year. Currently, it is estimated that around 30,000 of these attacks are occurring every single day.
So if you are an online marketer or involved in eCommerce, then this is something you need to learn more about. Because the more you succeed online, the bigger of a DDoS target you will become.
There are two big problems with these attacks that are only getting larger. The first problem is that as more and more governments and corporations unleash these attacks on their adversaries, the methods they use are getting more and more sophisticated and destructive.
The second problem is that launching a DDoS attack is getting easier. This means that we will keep seeing more of these attacks, and they will be used for trivial reasons.
Free Apps are Stealing From Us
We have all seen the apps that promise the world — yet after we download them, they come nowhere close to fulfilling their promises. This is a horrible sign, by the way. It often means the app might be inflicting severe damage on either your PC or device or stealing your credentials — or even worse.
Many of these simple little apps are out to destroy you.
For instance, suppose you download a free plug-in that lets you get past certain location restrictions — such as watching YouTube videos that are forbidden in your country. The company could be doing something like selling your bandwidth all over the world.
This means that those who pay enough money could use your IP address to do virtually anything. They could be setting up drug deals or downloading kiddie porn under your IP footprint. Not only that, but they could also install software on your computer without your knowledge. Many hackers install software that mines bitcoin on the PCs of other people.
Here is another example. Some ad blocker apps have been known to allow ads to display on sites — for the right price. So instead of getting those annoying ads blocked, they get shoved down your throat. Thus, the owners of the ad blocker app are using old-school mafia methods to shake people down.
You might recall, not too long ago, when there was a bit of a fuss regarding the NSA installing “backdoors” into all electronic communication methods. This meant that any online message sent could be read, and any online activity could be monitored.
As you might imagine, many debates ensured, but there is a huge risk here. These backdoors have the potential to compromise Internet security.
The moment any door opens within the encryption of a particular company, it can’t ever be closed again. This means that anyone can use it, once they have the knowledge.
Unfortunately, there’s no master key that just the good guys could use.
What this would mean is that terrorists, gangsters, thieves, and hackers of every variety would have access to your encrypted data. So if Apple or Microsoft put a backdoor within their code, then these undesirable people would have access to your passwords, Paypal information, and credit card numbers.
The problem with this is that many governments in the past have considered going through with this backdoor requirement. Such a decision could result in an online security breach of the worst kind.