Building good habits

As a writer, I enjoy discovering the etymology of the words I use in my columns. I enjoy looking up a word's meaning, even simple words such as "habit." After all, I'm a creature of habits.

Managing money wisely is always a good habit to have. Compared to when I was learning to save my allowance or learning to maximize my 401(k) contributions when I started my first job, building good habits have become rather complex nowadays.

In geek-speak and business-speak alike, we oft use the words "attack vector" to describe the different methodology a nefarious actor may use to victimize us out of our money. Although new attack vectors may have sprouted with the consumerization of the internet, aka the cloud, even the nefarious are creatures of habit. The ways in which they try to victimize us is still the same from the pre-internet era.

Do you remember the unsolicited "snail mail" (geek-slang for mail requiring postage stamps) crowding your postbox on your front lawn? Junk mail still comes via snail mail while most nefarious actors now cast "spam," geek-slang for unsolicited email for marketing or nefarious purposes (the latter also known as phishing emails).

Bad habits are hard to break and opening unsolicited email is a bad habit that potentially can lead you to serious trouble. Chomping on the bait cast by the nefarious actor doesn't necessarily mean you're filleted right away. The unsolicited email from scammers most probably need you to take subsequent "action" after opening the email such as clicking on a website link or opening an attachment, to be able to reel you in. Those actions are akin to you opening an unsolicited snail mail and calling the 800 number in the letter to accept the prize you won. But why even open an unsolicited email or answer an unsolicited phone call or text message?

Telephone calls made to your home or mobile phone, and text messages to your mobile phones, are just more opportunities for the scammers. Unless you know the person calling, resist answering. Let the calls go to your answering machine; mobile phone service providers usually include voicemail, aka answering machines in the cloud, that will notify you when there's a message waiting.

Whatever attack vector they use, the way they try to bait you is the same. They play on your fear of embarrassment by leaving messages like: "you are being sued by the IRS" or "your water will be shut off." Another example plays on your feeling of what is rightfully yours: "we overbilled you on your water bill and need information before issuing you a refund." These examples are actual scams left on my machine.

A quick googling of the word "habit," which uses definitions provided by the dictionary publisher Oxford Languages, contains "especially one that is hard to give up" as part of the definition. Building good habits will take practice. Don't forget positive reinforcements as you build good habits appropriate for the 21st century real and digital worlds we all live in.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 9:48 AM, 10.06.2020