In the 21st Century, people interact with digital devices every day, usually for several hours at a time. Smartphones and other computerized gadgets are designed to be used with very little effort or learning curve. Because of this, there are a lot of essential basics that people often don’t know that can make their experience with technology better. Here are five things that most people don’t know that they probably should.
1. Incognito browser mode
There is an easy way to surf the internet without leaving an obvious trail that allows unwanted ads and malicious software to pollute your device. This is called “incognito mode.” This feature won’t make you completely anonymous online, but you can prevent companies and roommates from easily finding out everything you’ve been doing online. Next time you want to surf discreetly, right-click on your browser launch icon and choose to open an incognito window from the context menu. In this mode, your browser will not save history or cookies on your machine.
2. Spooky Facebook action at a distance
You may have had weird experiences where you were talking with your friends about something, then saw a Facebook ad related to it moments later. This is not a coincidence. Facebook is capable of tracking your location, age, online conversations and many other factors that enable it to serve up strangely accurate ads related to your interests. Websites also store information on a “Facebook Pixel” that provides your browsing behavior to the social media giant.
3. Amazon is bigger than you probably realize
Most people don’t know that the retail site where consumers spend a good portion of their income these days is not the largest part of the Amazon company. The giant tech conglomerate actually consists of over 100 business entities that include Goodreads, Twitch, Zappos and many other familiar names. Although the retail platform generates billions of dollars a year, Amazon makes more money from its cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
4. Not all hackers are bad
With the explosion of identity theft that resulted from the rapid rise of the internet, people tend to view hackers as villains. However, some of them use their powers for good. The benign ones, known as “whitehat” hackers, are a vital part of digital security for organizations that have important data to safeguard. If you think about it, it’s not possible to make effective security protocols if you don’t have a deep understanding of what hackers are capable of, and a hacker is most qualified for that role.
5. Beware of public USB ports
When your phone charge is running low, a public USB charging port looks like a godsend, but don’t be so hasty. USB ports can read data on your device, and there’s no way to be completely sure that the port hasn’t been modified to steal your data or load malicious programs onto your device, especially in a busy place such as an airport. A safer alternative is to plug a USB adapter into a basic electrical outlet that can’t send or receive data.