2021 was a challenging year. Many things happened and we endured 12 months of too much information. Unfortunately, that translated into a sea of misinformation and lies. With all the things that happened on the internet in 2021, there had to be some bad things that happened, right? We could probably go on forever about the bad things that happened on the internet in 2021. Technology professionals shared their thoughts on the worst things that happened on the internet in 2021.
We Became Too Dependent on the Internet
Wireless and broadband connections have become mainstream and mobile devices are now highly integrated with the internet. This has changed everything. Over the years, we have become increasingly dependent on the internet for things we need to maintain our professional and personal lives. This trend continued in 2021. CEO of Integral Networks in California, Bryan Badger, believes that one of the worst things that happened on the internet in 2021 is the increased dependency on it.
The absolute worst thing to happen because of the internet(and why it may have been a mistake?) is hands down social media and how quickly information is shared and spread throughout the world without so much as a thought to verifying the info is correct or even real, and the damage that ensues to everyone. Not just damage to the subject, but the consumer as well. The internet destroyed families and friendships. In the US, in recent years, we have now seen our Freedom of Speech being eroded by blatant censorship(i.e. Facebook Jail and Twitter accounts being deleted). We also witnessed the impact of algorithms that push various political agendas or narratives. Does anyone think about the overall social impact this has on our kids? We are living in a constantly connected world where a kid can be tripped in the hallway and witnessed by other students will become a viral video. The entire school and neighboring schools and the whole world will witness the viral video and comment on it.
As the dependency on the internet increased in 2021, the spread of disinformation on these technologies ripped at the fabric of businesses and individuals around the world. Are individuals equipped with the necessary skills to consume, understand, and react to false information? For Brandon Christensen, CEO & Founder of V&C Solutions in California, one of his biggest issues with the internet today is disinformation.
The public internet started out as a beacon of information sharing that allowed people to pull and absorb so much more than they could ever have thought to get from textbooks, news outlets, etc. It was also mostly unfiltered by those delivering that information traditionally, so you could see multiple sides to any story. Today we see disinformation floods often times drowning out solid facts. It is a disturbing trend that I honestly do not have a great answer for. I still believe we are better off with information sharing than without, and regulation has its own issues. My best advice now is to be diligent and fact check, look at other content being pushed by these sources before choosing what to believe.
Security-Related Issues Took over the Internet
The internet has presented businesses and individuals with opportunities that no one would have even dreamed of only a couple of decades ago. However, it has also introduced some unprecedented challenges. ''One of the more serious bad things to come out of the internet is all the security-related issues that now abound due to all the instant and always-on connectivity the internet gives us today. Ransomware, social engineering hacks, the spread of misinformation, digital currencies, crime, the list goes on'', said Badger.
We know about the amount of data that businesses collect about people, but what are the risks and challenges associated with keeping that data secure? Businesses can lose the confidence and respect of consumers if they fail to protect customer and client data. For this reason, businesses must take information security and cybersecurity seriously. However, despite the importance of protecting critical data, breaches and hacks became more and more common in 2021.
When we asked Sean Connery, President and Co-Founder of Orbis Solutions Inc. (https://www.orbissolutionsinc.com/las-vegas-it-services/) in Nevada for his take on the worst things that happened on the internet in 2021, he stated the following:
We can start with the escalation of countries and tech companies suppressing communications, like Russia blocking Twitter back in March and Cuba blocking protected content in July. Then there are company outages, such as Facebook on October 4th of 5.5 hours or the Verizon Fios outage on January 26th.
Amazon Web Services, known as AWS, had three major outages in December. During these outages, several services went down, from Venmo to Disney+ to the McDonald's app. Turnstiles and mobile food ordering at Walt Disney World went down, and recently, portions of Azure and different backbone providers were having issues. Unfortunately, this all prevented people from working and making money.
Said Connery, ''Outages impacted multiple services across the Internet. The Downdetector home page was a sea of red spikes, all indicating service disruptions occurring around the same time. These apps and websites have something in common that is apparently affecting them all: They rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to store their data and/or provide computing power. AWS is Amazon's cloud computing business, the largest business of its kind (followed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud). So, when AWS breaks, pretty much everything breaks, too.''
''With more data and services moving online amid a growing network of computer hubs across the U.S. and the world, problems will arise because of glitches and mechanical failures – or worse, from bad actors such as hackers and ransomware purveyors'', added Connery. However, most of us have adopted a full-on digital life, especially as mobile devices become equipped with more functionalities. Apple users can now add driver's licenses and vaccination cards onto their devices. Most people don't really think about or understand the technology behind any of it.
Most people are under the assumption that all of this is here all the time. We have grown to expect Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc. to deliver our favorite shows instantaneously. The AWS outage in November 2020 took down the video game "League of Legends" and Sirius XM satellite radio. The outage also affected Roku and Amazon's Ring doorbell. AWS had other outages in 2015 and 2017. What to do? Have a backup plan.
I work for an outsourced IT security company, and as such, use a password manager that is hosted on AWS and we had three outages in December. We had two helpdesk call centers and engineers that had no access to passwords for our customers. Fortunately, I started a practice of exporting our passwords at the first of the month and put them in an encrypted vault on another cloud computing business. We still had access to assist our customers during these outages.
Social Media Caused a Disruption
Mike Shelah, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Advantage Industries in Maryland believes the worst thing to happen on the internet in 2021 was social media.
Said Shelah, ''I am a HUGE social media fan and regularly engage on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The unfortunate truth is, too many people use it to spread their own agenda without considering the consequences. Equally important, too many people readily accept information as true without first reviewing it against other trusted resources. In addition, it seems like every major social platform has the reputation for being hacked, data scraped and data mined (with TikTok leading the way). This makes it EVEN MORE crucial for individuals to use strong unique passwords combined with a password manager and Multi-Factor Authentication.''
Pro Tip: All of those "fun quizzes" you take online about "your favorite car, or band or place to vacation" are simply replicating security questions in order to hack your accounts.
With everything that happened in 2021, would this make the internet a mistake? ''The internet was not a mistake, but we definitely turned it into one with our dependency on it in 2021'', said Badger.