Once upon a time, we had an online territory without borders. People staked their claim and put things in their spaces that needed safekeeping. They created passwords and verification locks.

The territory grew at such a speed, however – with highwayman lurking to steal bounty wherever they could – that order had to be made of the chaos. Rules and regulations came into force and Know Your Customer (KYC) came to send anonymity on its way.

In this new virtual world, we must be brave if we want to make the most of it. Being informed, however, should stop bravery from becoming stupidity.

Here are five points any net rider needs to know in 2019, even if you don’t need help managing your security.

Net Neutrality

The free and equal access to the internet – which Net Neutrality means – might be shifting out of existence completely. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the USA has attempted to repeal net neutrality regulations. If the landscape of the internet is no longer neutral, it will soon become as cut up and cornered as the Earth itself.

Like cultures that spread across borders, so do zones of the internet. However, your geographical location and the investment your country has made into infrastructure – and its laws that permit certain usage – determine what experience you have in this vast virtual world.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) function to provide end users with access to the internet. They have the advantage of determining content packages, the speed of your service, and the pricing thereof. With neutrality being phased out, costs of being online will be set to rise. Furthermore, private providers must work within the boundaries set by the government of that country, but your data could be held in servers around the globe. Thus, any security breaches in another corner of the world might just affect you despite being a few time zones away. Perhaps only months from now, an average internet user might see security issues and rising costs due to blocs, regulations, and situations we have yet to imagine. Recent news on the subject was good for those in favour of net neutrality, as the Senate passed legislation in favour of its protection. It is to be seen to what extent free and equal access to the internet remains in due course.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR came into force in 2016. Anything that connects to Europe, no matter what your company offers, must comply with the new regulations. The GDPR was implemented because end users have suffered security breaches where third-party players gain access to their data and sell it at a profit. The question remains, whose data is it? When you exchange your data for free access to a product, does that not equalise gains in both directions? According to the EU, no. Your data is yours, and it cannot be sold without your knowledge or permission. Now that infrastructure change allows for larger amounts of data to pass through wider channels, there will be more data accessible than ever before.

Changes to Infrastructure

The new phones recently rolled out with shiny 5G symbols on hand-sized screens require better enhanced infrastructure to be able to use their 5G services. The hardware and the air space – and that which connects the two components together to create the service you receive – must all be upgraded for 5G to work.

After some time, we’ll be able to see what breaches come of this new technology. However, the security breaches, privacy invasion, and cyber-fraud that internet users are exposed to aren’t the only concerns in the headlines. A Belgian city has rejected 5G plans due to health concerns. According to their minister, the levels of radiation in the 5G pilot project are higher than what their standards allow, and under no circumstances will citizens health be compromised. Their point is that if new technology could have harmful effects – yet the race to produce it doesn’t allow for thorough testing – the first users will be the test subjects.

Wireless Generations – 4G to 5G

Switching from 4G to 5G must bring enhanced infrastructures with it to support the demands that new networking opportunities bring. It’s been said that 4G operated to connect people. The sheer numbers on social media connecting with photos and files were only possible due to the speed and the connection quality that 4G offered. 5G, however, is set not to just connect us, but to connect our belongings.

We are entering the era where our gadgets can inter-connect and be controlled remotely. The smarter your phone, the more connected it will be to the equally smart devices connected to it. 5G provides us with the infrastructure to do just that. The flaws that cause security breaches in 4G, however – such as knowledge of location and the interception of calls – are set to continue with 5G service, too. The competition continues to see who gets wherever first, and how they protect us in the process.

The IoT

With more powerful systems and devices, our belongings will become ever more linked to one another. You know that your Samsung phone can talk to your Samsung TV, but your LG phone will be able to assess quantities in your LG fridge, and connect to your supermarket app to reorder your eggs and milk when they run low. This is just an example of the IoT.

It’s because of 5G that we’ll have the convenience of the IoT, and the number of devices that will be using and accessing this tech will soar. With such usage, data will demand more of the infrastructure, and further enhancements will be needed.

Connecting It All Together

Do you see how each point connects in various ways to the others? Changes to infrastructure and technological developments allow you to have faster, wider, more dynamic access to the internet. Thus, having greater control over your data and privacy is essential, as highwaymen of days gone by were limited to those whose physical paths crossed yours. Nowadays, all the virtual highwaymen are hiding in dark corners throughout the web. There’s not just one to contend with: there are millions. Keeping yourself in the dark is no way to deal with the thieves and robbers. Instead, choosing to stay informed and acting on security advice will help you to stay secure online – no matter how fast your connection is or what device is connected to it.