techtips

Are You a Digital Nomad?

Are You a Digital Nomad?

Once upon a time, traveling from state to state and country to country in an RV was the dream of retirees. Then came the Internet, and as early as the mid-1990s, people found themselves able to work remotely. The phrase “digital nomad” was born around that time to encompass those high-tech workers who could work independently, setting up tech networks and working where they wanted to work.

The world’s experiences with the COVID pandemic resulted in an explosion of remote work. Thanks to a lot of creative thinking, all sorts of jobs and activities went online. No longer the purview of purely high-tech workers, remote work expanded to include clothing salespeople, librarians, winery hosts, personal brand coaches, and more. Give people a laptop and a reliable Internet connection, and they’re as ready to work in a hostel in Barcelona as they are in an apartment in Singapore. 

Does that make all remote workers digital nomads? There’s debate on that. 

Some consider only those people who have independent, entrepreneurial-style gigs that let them travel and work from anywhere to be the “true” digital nomad. Others think that the type of employment and employer don’t matter—if you’re taking advantage of 100% remote work and avoiding long-term fixed residences, then you, too, should consider yourself a digital nomad. 

All that to say, since the legal requirements and technical resources for both views are basically the same, the debate seems like a distinction without a difference

Keeping it Legal

Of course, whether you admit to being a digital nomad is another story, particularly when traveling to different countries. From a legal perspective, traveling for vacation is one thing; that assumes a basic travel visa. Those visas usually include in the fine print that you’re there for a holiday, not to work. If you want to actually work in a country, where ‘work’ means “I’m here and will be making money,” then you are often legally required to apply for a work visa. 

Different countries have different requirements, and sometimes those requirements are fairly vague. The most critical thing to remember is to do your research in advance to make sure you are following the proper legal procedures is important when crossing international borders. It’s like insurance. Sure, you can drive without it, and if no one catches you, fine. But if anything goes wrong, you might be in a world of trouble. 

Remember Your Digital Safety

The digital nomad lifestyle depends on technology, and that means you have to be on your A-game when it comes to making sure that your online accounts are protected. Having a password manager and using multi-factor authentication is no longer a “nice to have” but an absolute necessity. 

In fact, you’ll want to step it up and make sure you have a personal VPN, that your bank is top of the line when it comes to security, and a plan for what to do if your devices are lost or stolen (that means backing up your files regularly and testing that you can restore from those backups).

What Resources Exist for Digital Nomads?

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to help you navigate the digital nomad lifestyle!

What You Can Do in 5 Minutes 

  • Wikipedia has a great page on being a digital nomad, including links to countries that embrace the concept and have clear(ish) guidelines on how to work in their countries. 
  • Subscribe to the Digital Nomad subreddit to get a sense of what others are experiencing as digital nomads. 

What You Can Do in 15 Minutes

  • This comprehensive article by Legal Nomads offers a LOT of tips and tricks to make working remotely easier. If you’re committed to becoming a digital nomad, definitely check this out.
  • If you have a day job that allows for 100% remote work, check in with your HR person and manager just to make sure there are no restrictions on where you might end up in the world. They might not care, but in some fields, information (like encryption technology) can’t leave a country. 

What You Can Do in 30 Minutes (or more)

  • Want to learn more about the cultural aspects of doing business in other countries? One great site to visit is eDiplomat, which focuses on the cultural do’s and don’ts for many countries around the world. Want to know about cultural etiquette in Vietnam? How about reports on living conditions in Croatia from a diplomat’s perspective? There’s a lot on this site to explore. 
  • Want to get the most out of the experience and actually make enough money to support the lifestyle? You need to sit down and start some serious research and budget planning to figure out where your goals and what you can actually afford to align.

Wrap Up

There are a lot of considerations for entering into the world of the digital nomad. Visas, cybersecurity, banking, and money management… This is the tip of the iceberg! Still, travel is amazing, and you may find that the risks involved are absolutely worth the reward of the experience. Just be careful, make sure you have a community to talk to, and don’t forget to be smart with your passwords. 

Photo by David Espina on Unsplash

Posted by heather, 0 comments
Security in the Metaverse: What You Need to Know Now

Security in the Metaverse: What You Need to Know Now

Ahh, the metaverse. Depending on who you ask, it is either an impressive evolution of the online experience or a poorly defined marketing ploy. And, at least for now, there isn’t just one metaverse, which has lots of implications for how to protect yourself from one to another  Regardless of how many there are or what side you take on whether any of them will succeed, you can sum up the idea like this:

The metaverse is almost like a parallel dimension—it blurs the lines between the physical world that you and I know and the virtual world…like artificial reality and cryptocurrency. –  from IFM’s metaverse blog post

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could plan for digital identity and security in the metaverse even while the metaverse is still being figured out? When the Internet was first designed, it missed the boat when it came to building in digital identity and security. Everything we know about how to verify someone’s identity online was added long after the bones of the Internet were set. 

Owning your security in the metaverse

The old saying is, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” In the metaverse, no one will know if the “person” they are interacting with is really a person or a computer simulation. Creating digital accounts is really pretty easy. Making them realistic is just as easy, as humans don’t do a good job of protecting their personal information. Birthdates, location data in photographs, responses to Internet memes—it’s all out there waiting to be used to either hack existing accounts or create new ones that look like a real person for the purposes of fraud or harassment

Several of the companies working on their version of the metaverse hope to include identity and security by using Web3 technologies like blockchains that guarantee the uniqueness and ownership of a piece of information online. Which is good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough (yet). NFTs, built on supposedly secure Web3 and blockchain technologies, have already seen their fair share of fraud despite the technology. Still, we’re in the early days of figuring out how to make NFTs and Web3 long-term useful ideas, so there may be something there. Or not. We’ll see.

Regardless of whether fancy new technology will try to come in and save the day, you as the human actually have a lot you can do to help make your experience more secure. The good news is that what you can do to secure yourself in the metaverse are the same things you should do to protect yourself online today:

  • Control the information you share online (and don’t respond to silly memes, no matter how much you want to know what your name should be on the next royal wedding invitation).
  • Use good passwords. (We have a post about that.)
  • Never assume that the new person you’re talking to is who (or what) they say they are. 

Authenticating when you’re already there

Let’s look at where the metaverse is closer to reality: virtual reality! Those companies already branching out into metaverse products, like VR meetings or immersive games, now have to figure out how to authenticate users in VR (remember, use good passwords!). They could try and go old-school and have someone type on a virtual keyboard…except most users will only be using the VR headset. So, what are they supposed to do? A laser pointer at a virtual keyboard, hunting and pecking for each key? Uh, no. There are always biometrics, of course. Retinal scans, voice scans, fingerprints…But each of those needs a fallback for when the physical reality means biometrics aren’t feasible

No problem! Let’s make the VR device itself be your password! That actually has some promise and is an area already being explored, but there are still issues with how to handle shared devices (as anyone with more than one kid can tell you when it comes time to share the game controllers) as well as the reality that gamers rarely sign in as themselves. Also, the idea of moving away from traditional passwords is not without its challenges. Hacks are still possible (drat those hackers!), and there are questions as to whether it’s even a good idea to tell users to just “trust the magic” of what they don’t see.

At the end of the day, there’s just a lot that needs to be explored to make the metaverse a more safe and secure experience for everyone. 

Conclusion

The metaverse is expected to be THE online experience of the future. Right now, it seems like it is not only inheriting the security flaws of the Internet, but it’s coming up with new ones all on its own. CNBC has a great article on what kind of dangers are being introduced, which is scary, but it’s also an opportunity. We know the dangers (at least, we know some of them) which means we can plan for them. 

Posted by heather in Data Security, Web3, Line Dancing, 0 comments