The growing reliance on technology and the exponential growth of digital footprints are making it increasingly important to safeguard all aspects of online information and data. Our country is rapidly advancing through technological innovations with rising internet penetration and mobile phone users. We live in a world where a breach of digital data is one of the most common concerns among individuals and businesses. So, how secure is your personal information? In India, with increasing data breaches, securing yourself with the right security tools is a requisite.
In the first six months of 2021, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) observed over 6.07 lakh cyber security incidents. According to CERT-In data, which is mandated to track and monitor cyber security incidents in India, close to 6 lakh cyber security incidents were observed in 2021 through June. In 2018, this figure was over 2 lakhs; in 2019, it was close to 3.94 lakhs; and in 2020, it was approximately 11.50 lakhs.
As internet users, many actions expose us to malware infection, system compromise, social engineering assaults, and information exposure. With our workplaces and social lives becoming increasingly internet-centric, cybersecurity should always be at the forefront of our minds. Take a moment to learn about common online behaviours that put you and your data at risk, both at home and work.
Opening Email Attachments: Attachments can make it easier to share documents and other information. However, due to the inherent weaknesses of internet-based email, there is no guarantee that a message received has come from an authentic source. It is advisable to use a third-party file sharing service or email encryption and digital signatures to secure your mailbox.
Absence of Anti-Virus Software: If your computer does not have anti-virus software, you are highly vulnerable. It is wise to install and activate anti-virus and anti-spyware software, along with a firewall. These tools protect you from cyberattacks and alert you before it is too late. They also provide virus detection and removal to assist you in restoring your computer to its previous secure state.
Clicking on Social Network Hyperlinks: There are many compromised or phony accounts on social media platforms. Refrain from clicking on a message or a post that tempts you to click. With a few clicks, one could unknowingly become a victim of phishing scams or infect the system by downloading suspicious viruses. Since there is no way to know whether a URL is safe, it is advisable to take the route of a trusted search engine to find information on the web.
Using Public Wi-Fi to Send Personal Information: Open wireless networks like public Wi-Fi pose high chances of data theft. You can be trapped by a hacker-controlled wireless device using a variety of deceiving or rogue wireless access point attack methods. You could also be duped into an on-path assault, DNS spoofing, or simple eavesdropping. Most users have no way of knowing if such assaults are taking place, and they often do not realize they have been hacked until it is too late. Wireless assaults can infect your device with malicious code, steal personal information, and potentially compromise your identity or online credentials.
These common online behaviors should be compulsively avoided to keep your data secure, and safe.
The internet has allowed us to make hefty transactions and investments with just a few clicks from anywhere, at any time. One false click could place you in the hands of opportunistic scammers aiming to steal your money and hack into your personal information. These tips can help you avoid internet fraud:
Use the most effective computer and smartphone security software: Other precautions are less effective if your smart devices have been infected with malicious software. Make sure your operating systems are updated and protected well with anti-virus software.
Use strong passwords: It is advisable to not use the same password for all the accounts as it is easier for hackers to track them. Passwords that are above 10 characters, with a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numerals, and symbols, and have nothing to do with your personal information are ideal.
Use privacy/proxy accounts: Before making an online purchase, ensure that the website employs secure technology. When you get to the checkout screen, make sure the web address starts with HTTPS. Additionally, look for a tiny, padlock symbol before the URL. To protect yourself from phishing, use a different email address than your regular one when sharing information online with random websites. You can also use temporary email services for this purpose.
A key factor to note is that shielding the security and privacy of your information online does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Just a healthy practice of commencing safe browsing and purchasing genuine data security products can safeguard you from internet frauds. Several identity theft protection solutions are present in the market that can protect your data against specialized malware designed to steal personal information by logging your keystrokes or snooping on your browsing sessions. In this fast-pacing digital world, exercising precautions is not enough. It has become extremely crucial to invest in such specially designed products to ensure a seamless journey on the web.
(The author Mr.Wilfred Sigler, Senior Director, Market Development & Digital Solutions, CRIF India and the views expressed in this article are his own)