I’m a sucker for the conveniences of modern digital life, but...

A guest post from my favorite magazine The Week. Like most Americans, I’m a sucker for the conveniences of modern digital life. I bank on my phone, upload photos to the cloud, and keep my address saved with online retailers to save a few minutes at checkout.

I’ve also come to assume that my personal data have wound up in the hands of a hacker somewhere. I’d be a fool not to. Every week, it seems, there’s a data breach at a big corporation or a new leak of stolen celebrity nude selfies. JPMorgan Chase became the latest victim in 2014, revealing that the accounts of 84 million customers had been digitally ransacked.

Security experts say we should all simply presume our digital data have been stolen. But unless you’re Jennifer Lawrence or the head of IT at a megabank, it’s hard to get worked up about these breaches. For most of us, they mean a canceled card here, a changed password there. The hacks have become so commonplace that we’ve become numb to their dizzying scales and potential danger. Call it a case of data breach fatigue.

Psychologists would call it habituation—we sit up and take notice the first time something happens but tune out after the fourth or fifth occurrence. It’s that effect that causes the nation to collectively shrug when it hears about the latest major car recall, crisis in the Middle East, or tragic school shooting.

When consumers are asked why they tune out to massive data theft, they say the breaches are simply “unavoidable.” Yet it’s that same complacency that allows companies—and political leaders—to perpetuate the status quo. On second thought, excuse me while I go change my passwords.
- Carolyn O’Hara

-As seen in The Week
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