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If I were to describe 2020 in one word, it would be “adaptable.” We have all had to adapt to a new normal: pandemic-inspired lockdowns, work and school from home, expansions of technological infrastructure to support remote business, etc. Videoconferencing has become the most popular way of connecting with people who are miles apart.

Even billion-dollar corporations like McDonalds, with over 14,000 locations in the United States, have had to adapt. Rather than their customers coming into physical locations, many can now order online. A person can order a Big Mac, pay for the food and have it delivered to their front door, all without leaving the couch.

Almost everything one could ever want is at the touch of a button. But there is a price for this convenience. As is the case with all big changes, the increase of technology comes with increased responsibility. 

As we move into 2021, here are five things we will need to do to responsibly manage increased convenience and an increased reliance on technology.

1. Increase Technology Budgets

Whether you’re running a household or an organization, the amount of money you spend on technology has likely increased. That could have come in the form of faster internet service, increased apps to manage personal and professional business, or increased investments to protect one’s security. Expect this trend to continue in 2021.

2. Increase Knowledge of Privacy and Security

There is a cost for added convenience. With more and more people working remotely, people’s business and personal information are at heightened risk for hacking and fraud. At one point, companies needed to secure a physical location, perhaps multiple physical locations if they were multinational. Now, they need to protect their physical headquarters as well as their remote employees’ homes.

If we thought we were susceptible to hacking before, we are in a technological maze now. Companies and individuals will need to do more to protect their personal residence and their company’s information.

3. Expand Access to Mobile Broadband

With the increase in remote work, the need for reliable data connection at home is crucial. One pattern we have seen at my company, Figgers Communication, is greater demand for our Figgers Mobile Broadband. Since broadband helps ensure more efficient internet access by providing a stronger data connection from anywhere, it’s needed for households juggling school, work, community responsibilities, etc.

To support workers, educators and children, the federal government should consider providing tax rebates or credits to help families acquire the mobile broadband they need in an increasingly virtual world.

4. Partner with Internet Service Providers

Many of us have put our trust in our internet service providers (ISPs) to let us know when technological intruders have arrived. But we should be vigilant and assume our ISPs may not catch everything. We can do this by regularly rerouting our router and keeping our network private, including our hotspots.

5. Be Vigilant

At the beginning of the year, no one could have anticipated that the thread uniting boardrooms, family gatherings, happy hours and classrooms was through a computer screen in our homes. As an inventor, engineer and telecommunications company owner, I know firsthand that with increased technology usage comes increased risk for danger. Trojan horses abound.

In the cyber world, a trojan horse is a program designed to breach a computer security system while providing the façade of a harmless interaction. In late March, there were numerous reports of trojan horses overthrowing personal Zoom meetings. Zoom admitted, as well as apologized, for its lack of attention to detail in protecting its clients’ security. Since the mass security breach, the company has increased its efforts and transparency with security. One way to be vigilant is to add two-factor authentication, passwords for Zoom meetings and unique meeting identification numbers for each gathering.

Each of us can likely report a greater reliance on technology in 2020 than we experienced in 2019. In many homes, technology has become an added guest. Consequently, developing a deeper understanding of technology and corresponding strategies for protecting our privacy is essential. The tips I have outlined are a start. The challenge is to commit to continually learn, evolve and grow. I am committed to doing so. Are you?