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AI sneak attacks, location spying, and definitely not malware, or, what one teenager fears online: Lock and Code S04E21

This week on the Lock and Code podcast…

What are you most worried about online? And what are you doing to stay safe? 

Depending on who you are, those could be very different answers, but for teenagers and members of Generation Z, the internet isn’t so scary because of traditional threats like malware and viruses. Instead, the internet is scary because of what it can expose. To Gen Z, a feared internet is one that is vindictive and cruel—an internet that reveals private information that Gen Z fears could harm their relationships with family and friends, damage their reputations, and even lead to their being bullied and physically harmed. 

Those are some of the findings from Malwarebytes’ latest research into the cybersecurity and online privacy beliefs and behaviors of people across the United States and Canada this year.

Titled “Everyone’s afraid of the internet and no one’s sure what to do about it,” Malwarebytes’ new report shows that 81 percent of Gen Z worries about having personal, private information exposed—like their sexual orientations, personal struggles, medical history, and relationship issues (compared to 75 percent of non-Gen Zers). And 61 percent of Gen Zers worry about having embarrassing or compromising photos or videos shared online (compared to 55% of non Gen Zers). Not only that, 36 percent worry about being bullied because of that info being exposed, while 34 percent worry about being physically harmed. For those outside of Gen Z, those numbers are a lot lower—only 22 percent worry about bullying, and 27 percent worry about being physically harmed.

Does this mean Gen Z is uniquely careful to prevent just that type of information from being exposed online? Not exactly. They talk more frequently to strangers online, they more frequently share personal information on social media, and they share photos and videos on public forums more than anyone—all things that leave a trail of information that could be gathered against them.

Today, on the Lock and Code podcast with host David Ruiz, we drill down into what, specifically, a Bay Area teenager is afraid of when using the internet, and what she does to stay safe. Visiting the Lock and Code podcast for the second year in the row is Nitya Sharma, discussing AI “sneak attacks,” political disinformation campaigns, the unannounced location tracking of Snapchat, and why she simply cannot be bothered about malware. 

“I know that there’s a threat of sharing information with bad people and then abusing it, but I just don’t know what you would do with it. Show up to my house and try to kill me?” 

Tune in today to listen to the full conversation.

To read the full report, click below. 

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Show notes and credits:

Intro Music: “Spellbound” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Outro Music: “Good God” by Wowa (unminus.com)