National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NSCAM) has been an annual fixture since October 2003. The goal of the last 16 years has been to raise awareness of the importance of security when it comes to your digital data, and today, that message is more important than ever.

Endless studies and reports are exposing our highly digital consumption habits. A 2019 report from Hootsuite and We Are Social shows we’re spending on average of six and a half hours online each day. Half of that is spent on mobile devices.

We’re spending more time online than ever before. We shop more online, spend more time on social media and do more of our financial and regulatory business online, too. Most of us use banking apps, file taxes online and share images of family, friends, holidays and almost every aspect of life on social media.

Online accounts for our grocery stores, video streaming and a hundred other things all add up, and the result is a huge amount of information about our personal lives out there in the digital world. At the time, how many of us think about entering names, dates of birth and other information when we are asked? It’s easy to put out there, and this is why cybersecurity awareness is so important — not just in October, but all year long.

Own it; secure it; protect it

“Own it; secure it; protect it” was the theme of this year’s NSCAM, with the focus on individual privacy, consumer devices and e-commerce security. All are areas that are increasingly under threat, especially as we approach the holidays, when e-commerce is even more popular.

Despite the increased threat, cybersecurity remains an afterthought for far too many. At a time when we, as a country, are spending more time on mobile devices than TV, the sheer amount of digital data out there about every one of us should make us stop and think. Yet, we are often unaware of the risks posed, never mind what the consequences might be. There are various common areas of attack that are increasingly in use today.

Cloud databases make life easier for us all, with images and messages uploaded to the cloud for easy access. But they are also a significant vulnerability. If you hear in the news that a celebrity had their phone hacked, what likely happened is their cloud storage was hacked, giving the hacker access to all their photos, messages and other data.

Another common threat you will often hear about is a data breach. In this case, a business’s databases or servers are compromised, giving criminals access to everything contained within. That could be your shopping history, credit card numbers and so on. And it happens with alarming regularity.

But that’s not all — biometric data often gives us a false sense of security, but systems are not as secure as we may think. Artificial intelligence (AI) has become so powerful that not only passwords but fingerprints or face detection may be bypassed. With AI quickly growing in sophistication, we must accept that soon, hackers will have access to tools that can overcome these kinds of locks on our devices and data.

What can we do?

The threefold idea behind this year’s theme helps individuals and businesses understand the risks they face and the often-simple solutions that can make all the difference:

• Own it: Update privacy settings to keep your data secure. Know which apps are running to ensure you always know where your data is going. Additionally, stay safe on social media by watching what is shared and with whom.

 Secure it: Create strong, secure passphrases — ideally, a different one for each account. Use multifactor authorization whenever possible, and always watch for phishing attacks. Never click on a link without first checking the sender.

• Protect it: Always protect whenever you connect. Have up-to-date security software on your devices, and be careful with public Wi-Fi. For businesses, always maintain adequate safety protocols for customer data.

To ensure these ideas are acted upon, it is up to us to spread the message and raise awareness. Whether individuals, businesses or government bodies, we must all act. Tell others; raise awareness, and put these ideas into practice yourself. If you are unsure about a site, double-check before handing over your data, and consider cybersecurity software for additional peace of mind.

Conclusion

Staying secure in the digital world shouldn’t be an afterthought. The more we rely on digital solutions for almost every aspect of life, the more vulnerable we become to cyberthreats. NCSAM is a timely reminder that we should all be more aware of that vulnerability and of both the threats and the things we can do to minimize them.

 

Click here to read Forbes article.

160over90 has been selected as AOR for Aura, a company that offers personal identity protection and digital security services including the product Identity Guard.

The agency will be helping Aura with media relations, entertainment PR, influencer marketing, corporate comms, thought leadership and partnerships, according to a 160over90 representative.

Aura began searching for a new agency earlier this year and signed the one-year, six figure agreement with 160over90 in mid-September, said Aura’s chief communications and branding officer Lark-Marie Anton.

Aura started thinking about bringing on an agency once its new brand launched in July, explained Anton.

In January, WC SACD One, a joint venture formed by iSubscribed, WndrCo and General Catalyst, acquired a company called Intersections. Right after that deal closed, according to a company statement, iSubscribed was merged into WC SACD and combined with Intersections. In July, the combined businesses were rebranded as Aura.

“We acquired Identity Guard in early January 2019 and then very quickly decided we were going to make sure we created a brand holistically for all our digital security offerings,” said Anton. “When that was completed and we launched Aura in July, it was beginning to be clear that we wanted to partner with an agency that would allow us to leverage the new brand and allow us to leverage culture and engage consumers in a meaningful way.”

Aura did not conduct a search or issue a formal RFP. Aura executives had existing ties to the agency’s PR and comms leaders, said a 160over90 rep.

iSubscribed engaged Ketchum for two projects between late 2018 and early 2019, the latter of which concluded in March.

“We wish [Aura] continued success,” said a Ketchum representative.

“Our CEO Hari Ravichandran had worked with [Ketchum] during his time with a previous company,” Anton said.

160over90 was chosen because it’s part of holding company Endeavor, which also owns WME, IMG, and organizations like Miss Universe Organization, Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Professional Bull Riders organization, said Anton.

“It was about finding the right partner and [160over90] does have an amazing network,” Anton said. “It’s absolutely the integration of those connections, the ties to things like culture, culinary and music, all of it. Having one holistic agency that has access to all of these different verticals is important for us.”

160over90’s seven-person core team working the account — split between its New York and Los Angeles offices — will be led by Rachel Goldman, a senior account director based in Los Angeles.

Click to view PDF of PR Week – Aura selects 160over90 as AOR

NEW YORK, NY   — Award-winning branding and advertising agency Circus Maximus has created a distinctly human brand identity for tech company Aura, a digital-security brand that launched this month. Aura’s offering pairs intelligent-scanning antivirus software with an advanced data-enabled technology that uses artificial intelligence to monitor, manage and protect sensitive information.

Aura is a one-stop shop of integrated products that provides enterprise-grade security solutions. Intrusta and Identity Guard’s cybersecurity and identity-theft products give consumers a halo of protection, so they can enjoy the benefits of technology without fear. Aura is a combined business entity formed by iSubscribed and Intersections Inc with partners WndrCo and General Catalyst.

While most cyber-security brands favor a dark, scary vision and a high-tech Matrix message, Aura is treating people like…people. The company’s mission is to pioneer digital freedom for all and enable people to enjoy the benefits of technology simply and without fear. Aura’s brand principles include “caring,” “human,” “candid” and “vigilant.”

Circus Maximus created the naming, branding, website, and other materials—from the typography, color palette, logos, imagery and other assets detailed in the brand style guide to the corporate website where consumers can view Aura’s security services—to complement the brand’s goal of “simplifying digital security for our modern lives.”

The color scheme (Sunrise, Nightshade, Peach and Gradient) is warm, natural and accessible with crisp typefaces that are professional yet friendly. The website’s pages are airy—there’s plenty of white space and the language isn’t too lofty. Images show happy, secure and diverse families enjoying the digital world and Aura officemates working to protect consumers from the threat of cyber-security breaches.

Aura uses adaptive technology, so its easy-to-use interface learns from the user to continually improve security and the experience. Its near real-time alerts inform customers, so they can act quickly if their personal information is breached.

Circus Maximus also created the tagline for Aura: “Your Digital Halo.”

“We know that finding and articulating a brand’s empathy is the key to their consumer appeal, and long-term success,” said Ryan Kutscher, Circus Maximus founder and chief creative officer. “Aura represents how we implement that process in a category that falls into the trapping of fear tactics all too easily. We’re excited for the wonderful team at Aura as they launch this unique brand.”

Aura provides a host of personal-identity protection offerings, including monthly credit scores and annual credit reports with information from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, social media insights, dark web monitoring, bank account takeover alerts, cyberbullying alerts and intelligent antivirus scanning.

“Technology has become an ever-increasing presence in our lives,” said Hari Ravichandran, CEO and founder of Aura. “Aura is the digital halo that empowers people with tools, data, notifications, knowledge and relentless customer service to help them use their technology and devices freely.”

 

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About Circus Maximus

An award-winning, top branding and advertising agency based in NYC. We build innovative, results-driven brands that consumers actively seek out. For more information, visit circusmaximus.com.

About Aura

Aura™ is a technology company dedicated to simplifying digital security for consumers. Committed to creating a unified platform of services, Aura uses adaptive technology to enable customers to manage disparate cybersecurity needs with ease. Innovative personal identity protection products such as Identity Guard and technology services including Intrusta antivirus are part of the Aura family. Trusted by more than 1 million customers, Aura is the digital halo that provides real-time peace of mind. For more information about Aura, visit: www.auracompany.com.

Two recently combined consumer cybersecurity companies are heading off under a new branding to make a run at providing some online peace of mind for regular folks, and they’re doing it with $150 million in capital from Boston-area venture firm General Catalyst and WndrCo, the West Coast technology investor run by former Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Burlington, MA-based iSubscribed completed its acquisition of Virginia-based Intersections in January and has since been focused on integrating the companies as well as rebranding the company, now known as Aura.

“From a consumer perspective people want something relatively simple and straightforward for their family and homes, something that protects their devices and all the things happening in their house,” Aura founder and CEO Hari Ravichandran tells Xconomy.

Ravichandran founded iSubscribed after he left another company he started, Endurance International Group (NASDAQ: EIGI), which started helping small businesses get a foothold on the World Wide Web but grew into a multi-faceted company that offered hosting, marketing, security, design, and more. Ravichandran stepped down from Endurance in 2017 amid an SEC investigation into the company.

ISubscribed’s, and now Aura’s, approach to meeting consumers’ needs is to get the best tools they can find, buy, or build under one roof. So far, Aura currently offers a malware and antivirus product called Intrusta as well as an identity theft protection system it acquired from Intersections.

Ravichandran says the company has a couple of ideas for its next products. First, something to cut off spam emails and communications for consumers once they go through the seemingly unavoidable experience of having their personal data leaked online or otherwise sold to some data brokers. The ideal technology would halt the spam, and also lock someone’s credit file before the personal data are misused by a hacker to open a bank or credit account.

Aura’s next focus is on the home and the exploding number of internet-connected devices, Ravichandran says, controlling how they communicate on the network and how much bandwidth they use, and even spot potential intrusions more easily.

iSubscribed raised a $12 million Series A funding round in May 2018, prior to its deal for Intersections. Aura now has $150 million in funding from General Catalyst, WndrCo, and the founding team. The company has 300 employees across offices in Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and New Mexico.

Ravichandran says the company has $150 million in revenue and 1.2 million customers who pay monthly fees to use the products.

Click to view XConomy – July 15, 2019

Listen to Hari on the Dare to Move podcast discussing entrepreneurship with Garrett Nicole Wood.

Networking has expanded from the traditional model of industry events and watercooler discussions to a broad digital world ruled by social media. Stuck in our old ways, many of us in the technology world are missing out on opportunities in the digital realm by not realizing that social is the modern way to learn about advancements in our profession, inspire employees and establish credibility.

Whether you are looking to expand your career journey, raise awareness of your current organization, attract new investors or talent, or enhance existing professional relationships, building and maintaining an authentic online presence is a great way for technology executives or entrepreneurs to expand their reach and impact. These activities offer clear value, both on a personal level and for businesses as social media continues to evolve from a business to consumer marketplace to an integral part of doing business in a digital-first world.

From building past businesses, I’ve seen firsthand how impactful social platforms can be. Now that I’m back to my entrepreneurial roots, it’s something I’m making a conscious effort to work on. I’ve learned that while establishing an authentic online presence takes time,  it’s easier than you may think. The key to success is actually quite simple — reach the right people with genuine, relevant content at the right time. Below are four key steps I’ve found success with to get you started.

Define Your Point of View

To me, the first and most important step in creating an effective online presence that will enable authentic interactions and constructive thought leadership is to define your unique point of view. Think about the topics you want to talk about based upon your current role and experience, including your life experience. You’re a distinct, one-of-a-kind individual with your own way of thinking, speaking and engaging with thoughts and ideas, so your online and social media presence should reflect that. Ask yourself what voice and content make the most sense considering your background and personality, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Ask yourself: What is the biggest differentiator among your peers? What motivates you? What are you known for, personally and professionally? What trends do you notice in your industry?

Your online persona will be a combination of these traits, as expressed through what you post, share and say. This exercise can also allow you to establish some guide rails for approaching your channels, including content topics, voice and tone, engagement style and target audience. This will help you create consistent and authentic profiles and content, which your followers will be more likely to engage with (and hopefully share). It’s helpful to always remember you’re not just a conduit: Your individual voice and honest point of view should be a part of anything you share.

Build And Expand Your Network

Expanding and building your network online isn’t all that different from the traditional networking model. Just like how going to industry events builds your influence through personal connections, I’ve found that your following will grow just by being an active user online, producing content and engaging with others. You can organically grow your following by executing best practices, such as setting and sticking to a posting goal, making your content easier to find using hashtags and tagging other accounts, and following others with similar profiles or who are relevant to your audience.

After inviting your real-world network to connect, you can also actively identify and vet influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn with whom you can connect. On LinkedIn, two great assets I use for finding peers are the People You May Know section and LinkedIn Groups. You can also look at your peers and who they’re engaging with and following. A major underutilized asset on Twitter is the list function, which helps you to organize and filter people and organizations into separate streams. Not only can you create your own private or public lists, but you can also follow others’. Similar to your content, make sure your lists focus on your expertise and point of view. Once you have lists of relevant publications, reporters and industry thought leaders set up, following and engaging in relevant conversations will become much quicker and easier.

Use Your Judgement

The power of having an authentic online presence — namely, the ability to reach a broad audience quickly and directly — shouldn’t be taken lightly. You shouldn’t be afraid to engage, but there is always a place for caution and good judgment. Always remember that your digital presence is an extension of you as a tech leader. Assume that who you follow, what you share and the content and people or organizations that you engage with on social platforms is public (even if it’s set to private). You should directly engage with a speaker following a presentation or comment on a tech article shared by someone you admire. What you shouldn’t do is share anything that makes you uncomfortable, because others will likely feel the same.

It’s also important to be mindful of timing and what else is going on in the world. During an emergency or in the wake of terrible news, an otherwise innocuous business post can come off as tone deaf or offensive. Even during normal circumstances, an appropriate message shared at the wrong time can have an adverse impact.

Always use your judgment and when in doubt, I recommend keeping it to yourself.

Don’t Wait

I’ve found that the best time to build your network and online presence is before you really need it. Mastering your digital presence can be valuable for job seekers, tech entrepreneurs and corporate executives alike, but it takes time. Don’t wait until you’re being considered for the next step in your career or you need to course correct a reputation issue to establish your presence. Start laying the groundwork now. Beyond the network and knowledge mastery online thought leadership gives you, it can also provide you with an audience and reach, the ability to help shape your organization’s reputation, and the opportunity to build trust and new business from afar — all valuable in the modern workplace.

Click here to view the Forbes post.
Click here to view PDF of Forbes – Networking Article 2.27.19.

IBM’s Oliver Blodgett, World Surf League co-owner Paul Speaker, Axispoint founder Scott Powell join investment and management team.

Props, the first holistic marketing technology platform for authentic content creators and marketers, launched today while announcing its leadership team, investors, and advisors.

Coinciding with the launch is the completion of $5.5 million in investment capital, according to president and CEO Joseph Perello. Investors include Paul Speaker, the co-owner and former CEO of the World Surf League; Hari Ravichandran, founder of the technology conglomerate Endurance and now the CEO and Founder of Jump Ventures, a scalability infusion firm that invests to drive exponential growth; and Axispoint, a technology development firm specializing in content and blockchain applications.

Props is the only integrated technology platform that merges original, meaningful content with leading-edge AI. Leveraging IBM Watson, brands align with relevant, independent content creators to publish, share, boost, promote, measure and optimize authentic content. Stories are seamlessly distributed to both creators’ and brands’ native media channels, shared and boosted on their social media feeds, and promoted through digital ad networks and search.

Props is definitively not an “influencer” platform. It is designed to support and extend the reach and prominence of real content creators who meet three important criteria: 1) they are professional storytellers (writers, photographers, filmmakers, and podcasters) with a track record of making compelling content; 2) they are subject-matter experts who are dedicated to their field of passion; and 3) they have naturally enrolled a set of devoted followers who trust their expertise.

Props is led by Joseph Perello, formerly the first CMO of the City of New York, appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Joe was VP of Business Development for the New York Yankees, a principal in David Bowie’s internet venture, UltraStar, and the co-founder of a NYC-based digital agency.

“Central to Props is respect,” explains Perello. “Respect for the relationship between creators and their followers. Respect for brands, who seek to become what people are passionate about, instead of interrupting their passions. And respect for the integrity of the content – that it was made from a place of authenticity – not contrived, forced or manipulated.”

Head of Product at Props is Mary Aldon. An artist and one of the first team members at Props, Mary is an advocate for creating authentic connections between brands and professional creators. Previously, Mary led enterprise-wide marketing technology implementations at Interbrand and Siegel + Gale.

Joining Perello and Aldon on the Props management team are:

Oliver Blodgett, Head of Artificial Intelligence: Blodgett was previously an executive with IBM Watson. After spending the last five years working to commercialize IBM’s innovative and leading-edge artificial intelligence platform, he joined Props, both as an investor and as the company’s technology and AI leader. Oliver will oversee the implementation of AI and other technologies into the Props platform, and help brands and creators leverage the deep insights into content performance uncovered by Props and Watson.

Scott Powell, Head of Development: Scott is the founder of Axispoint, a custom development firm specializing in building software and blockchain applications in the content, media and music industries. As a strategic investor and part of the management team, Scott leads the Props development organization. Previously, Scott and Axispoint created the software that powers the rights and royalty management systems for EMI and Warner Music. Axispoint creates custom software applications for the NFL, New York Times, Vice Media and other media enterprises.

Props announced its first advisory board as well:

Rachel Lightfoot Melby is an 8-year veteran of Google and YouTube and also an investor in Props. She is the founder and chief brand builder of Catchfoot and Run.

Lee Sosin was SVP of Hearst Digital Media, VP of Time Inc. Studios, VP of Strategic Solutions for Yahoo, and a co-founder of America’s Channel. He is a consultant and advisor on brand, marketing and content strategies.

Patrick Hanlon is the author of the content marketing playbook, “Primal Branding,” and also an investor in Props. He is an award-winning creative director and the founder of Thinktopia.

Lark-Marie Anton was deputy press secretary for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, chief communications officer for Endurance International and SVP at Hertz and Loews Hotels. She is currently the chief communications officer for Intrusta.

Sara Arnell was an editor at Vanity Fair, as well as co-founder and CEO of the Arnell Group. She is the founder of KARMiC and a professor at Parsons School of Design.

David Sussman was general counsel and chief operating officer of the New York Yankees, general counsel of MTV Networks, chief legal officer of NBC Universal’s Distribution Group and is now special counsel at Jenner and Block, LLP.

Early Props investors include former Audible.com CTO Guy Story, Better Mortgage CEO Vishal Garg, and his 1/0 Capital fund, and Props co-founder and former R/GA executive creative director Pat Stern.

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Read the Adweek story about Props here.

IBM-Powered AI Platform Wants to Reinvent the Influencer Marketing Model

AdWeek Reprint Props

 

NCR Acquires StopLift, Gains Powerful Anti-Theft Solution for Self-Checkout

ATLANTA and Cambridge, Mass. – November 6, 2018 – NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) today announced that it has acquired StopLift Checkout Vision Systems, a leader in intelligent computer vision systems, to combat theft in the retail business. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

This transaction reinforces NCR’s strategic focus on self-checkout solutions that provide the best possible shopper experience and return on the investment for retailers. NCR will integrate StopLift’s Artificial Intelligence capabilities that detect unusual and possibly fraudulent behavior into its retail store transformation solutions. StopLift’s loss prevention management features will help NCR address retailers’ concerns over shrink. NCR is the global leader in self-checkout technology with more than 250,000 installations worldwide.

“This acquisition will help NCR accelerate growth in our market-leading self-checkout and store transformation solutions,” said NCR President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael D. Hayford. “In addition to creating new value for our retail customers around the world, StopLift’s fraud detection technology will be a key enabler of our frictionless commerce product strategy.”

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., StopLift has developed Artificial Intelligence capabilities that visually determine what occurs during each transaction to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent behavior at the checkout.  Most notably, StopLift’s technology detects scan-avoidance and flags unscanned, unpaid merchandise at the checkout. Examples include passing items around the scanner, leaving unscanned items in the shopping cart, and covering up the barcode while scanning.

“We have been working with NCR since 2016 to integrate our patented technology with SmartAssist, which successfully detects shrink at the checkout counter with NCR’s self-checkout solutions,” explained Malay Kundu, founder and CEO of StopLift. “As retailers are looking to embrace frictionless checkout, our combined technologies will bring the advantages of loss prevention management to NCR’s global customer base in this critical time of retail transformation.”

The two companies anticipate a smooth transition for customers, channel partners and employees.

About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a leader in banking and commerce solutions, powering incredible experiences that make life easier. With its software, hardware, and portfolio of services, NCR enables 760 million transactions daily across financial, retail, hospitality, travel, telecom and technology industries. NCR is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., with 34,000 employees and does business in 180 countries. NCR is a trademark of NCR Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Website: www.ncr.com
Twitter: @NCRCorporation
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ncrcorp
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/ncr-corporation
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/ncrcorporation

About StopLift
StopLift Checkout Vision Systems markets its patented ScanItAll technology designed to detect and deter shoplifting and employee theft in retail businesses across the globe. It uses Artificial Intelligence to analyze and compare security video and POS data to identify unscanned items at retail and supermarket checkouts. To date, it has confirmed more than 3.1 million scan avoidance incidents at manned and self-checkouts around the globe. StopLift is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has an office in Kolkata, India.

News Media Contact:
Tim Henschel
NCR Public Relations
770-299-5100
tim.henschel@ncr.com

Investor Contact:
Michael Nelson
NCR Corporation
678-808-6995
michael.nelson@ncr.com

StopLift Contact:
Sherry Alpert
Sherry Alpert Corporate Communications, LLC for StopLift
617-678-1613
sherry@alpert-publicrelations.com

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Statements in this announcement regarding the transaction, the benefits of the transaction, general business outlook and any other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans or prospects of the board or management of NCR constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements that are not statements of historical fact (including statements containing the words “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “believes,” “should,” “potential,” “may,” “forecast,” “objective,” “plan,” or “targets” and other similar expressions) are intended to identify forward-looking statements. There are a number of factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements, including: the potential impact of the transaction on relationships, including with employees, suppliers and customers of NCR and StopLift; the ability to achieve the value creation contemplated by the transaction; and the other factors and financial, operational and legal risks or uncertainties described in the NCR’s public filings with the SEC. NCR disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this document except as required by law.

Cybersecurity And The Human Element: Creating Realistic Solutions For A Safer Digital World

Like any tech industry entrepreneur, I love technology and have since I was just 10 years old. Technology has allowed us to do absolutely incredible things on a global scale and has improved our way of life exponentially on a day-to-day level. Yet with all the benefits a more technology-rich and interconnected life brings, it also exposes us to risk as bad actors increasingly seek to take advantage of that interconnectivity. Every day, consumers benefitting from the increasingly digital world are also the ones who most often fall victim.

In the U.S. alone, 143 million consumers — more than half the adult population that is active online — were victims of cybercrime last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report. U.S. consumers’ losses totaled $19.4 billion, and, on average, each victim lost nearly 20 hours dealing with the fallout.

These alarming stats make one thing clear: Cybersecurity literacy and readiness are lacking when they need to be growing. Unlike big companies with IT departments and resources dedicated to protecting cybersecurity, many consumers aren’t tech savvy and have little understanding of the complex world of cyberattacks, let alone what to do to combat them. To meet and withstand today’s online threats, consumers don’t just need better cybersecurity technology — they need realistic solutions. They need solutions that account for the ways they use their technology — on their computers, their phones and in the interconnected devices all around them. They need solutions that they understand and feel comfortable using. They need solutions that work.

Technology leaders, those of us with the skills and capacity to do something, need to pay more attention to people and how they use technology to design solutions that better confront the human element of cybersecurity. We also need to improve awareness of digital security threats by making technology and cybersecurity literacy easier and more accessible for everyone.

Considering The Human Element

Fraud and cybercrime are extremely common and can take on a wide variety of forms, from obvious scams to sophisticated and highly personalized attacks. Often, the subtle cause behind a security breach is human error (e.g., using a weak password, clicking a suspicious link, failing to download security updates, etc.).

As consumers become more and more comfortable making purchases, paying bills and sharing sensitive personal information online through digital interactions with their health care providers, financial services institutions and government entities, human factors can become serious vulnerabilities. Take passwords, for example. While we know that complex, frequently changed passwords are more secure, the distinctly human tendency to prioritize efficiency and convenience leads many to take shortcuts like using weak passwords because they are easy to remember or applying the same passwords to everything.

Cyberattackers rely heavily on user interaction and normal human behaviors like complacency and a desire for efficiency and convenience. Consumers need solutions that help make it easy for them to be more secure, ones that don’t ignore but rather embrace these human tendencies because security shouldn’t be a burden — it should be built in.

Developing Realistic Solutions

We can’t change human nature, but we can change technology to cut down on the shockingly high number of consumers who fall victim to an attack. All too often, people assume that if they’re using their phones, their desktops at work, the wearable devices on their wrists or their voice-enabled devices on their kitchen countertops that they’re safe. They don’t think twice. We need to design solutions that 1) educate consumers about the threats that exist as they interact with this technology, 2) empower them with the tools they need and 3) make it easy for them to use those tools.

I hate to use a cliché, but knowledge actually is power when it comes to staying safe in our interconnected world. If consumers know about potential threats to unsecured or outdated internet of things devices, understand how malware or ransomware can infiltrate a computer through an unwitting click of a link and have insight into password hacks, they’ll naturally be more equipped to avoid them. Software developers have an opportunity to build education into and around their technology as an extra line of defense.

When it comes to the technology itself, we often jump straight into complex software development without stopping to think about the natural tendencies of the consumers using that tech. Security doesn’t need to be overwhelming and scary. As technology leaders, we have a responsibility to make it much easier for consumers to both understand cybersecurity threats and take steps to make the digital world safer for themselves and their families. That means committing to rethinking and simplifying product design to account for human factors, with more mobile, user-friendly designs, better interfaces and more engaging, accessible content.

The best way for consumers to confront cybersecurity threats and prevent the damage associated with a security breach is to be prepared with the proper knowledge and smart tools.

Click to read the Forbes article.