Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications
When mankind created technology, it didn't know that the latter would be the most irreplaceable 'organ' of the former. Technology has changed the way we work, the way we rest, the way we shop, the way we read, the way we play, indeed the way we live, and mostly for good.
It is now hard to imagine our lives without email, internet banking, online trading, WhatsApp, Facebook, Paytm or simply without a smart phone. If technology vanishes one day, it would leave us all in a haywire and would leave us handicapped to a large extent. Yes, technology has made our life comfortable but then at times, how we use technology can tarnish the good things if offers. With greater usage of technology, there also comes the responsibility to be more careful and avoid risks associated with technology.
You may have heard stories of someone's bank account getting hacked and he got robbed of his money or a Facebook account getting compromised with offensive content then posted form it, or someone getting an offer letter from a company asking for R 50,000 for the placement facilitation process. These are a few instances on how technology is also being misused by people to hurt or rob other people. We often hear such instances but then what do we do? It is for us to understand the risks and also follow some practices to ensure that we do not fall prey to such traps.
TYPES OF THREATS
Before we start talking about what best practices and precautions to take, let's have a broad picture on the different ways
or different types of threats generally existing in the digital world to which we are most susceptible...
1. Scam / fraud: Any act which causes you direct financial loss. It may be in any form or backed by any promise or
scheme to make money or situation to entice you to give away your money.
2. Theft: Theft can be of any confidential, proprietary, business or financial information. Most common theft is of
personal & financial information, especially your account details, credit / debit card / internet banking details.
3. Hacking Accounts: Getting unauthorized access to your personal accounts and then misusing it.
4. Cyber bullying: All types and degrees of cyber bullying, threatening, maligning and trolling.
5. Virus / Trojan Horse / Worms: Getting virus or getting your device infected with programs / bugs such that its proper
functioning is affected or some malicious task is being carried out using your systems / identity.
How to be Safe?
So, what should you do? How to ensure that you and your digital content / information is secure? You don't have to be a tech geek to protect yourself from cyber frauds, it's simple, 'you should be careful'. Think and act like a fish – don't bite into baits thrown at you, do not swim into nets spread out and avoid areas where the predators / bad fish swim. We have listed down few things which can help you in the process:
1. Always use passwords: Keep all your computing devices and machines, including mobiles, password protected and keep it a secret. This will keep all your personal information and content safe.
2. Use Strong passwords: While keeping a password for any device or online /digital account, always make sure that you create a strong password with a combination of alphabets, numbers and special characters. Be careful in not using obvious passwords like names, nick names, date of births, etc. as passwords. This is very important and can prove to be very effective although it might seem inconvenient to you.
3. Physically protect your devices: If you are using a smart mobile / tab then you should be extra careful of its physical security. You have your world on your phone and someone might pick up your device and start exploring your world, may even take note of your passwords, or may simply put your world in his pocket and run away. If you have your phone's identification info like the IMEI number then you may have better chances of tracking your phone.
4. Protect your connections / networks: Many of us may use wifi at home but how many of us protect it with strong passwords? It is also critical that you do not keep wifi hotspot / blue tooth or other connectivity features of your mobile devices open and not password protected. Always keep them off and password protected, especially when you are at public places.
5. Be extra careful using public networks: It is very important that one should be extra careful while using free or public networks available in spaces like hotels, stations, airports, etc. This is also true when you are using Internet at unknown places like for eg. cyber cafes. Unless critical, always avoid logging into personal accounts and doing financial transactions using such public /unverified private networks of any sort. They may be tempting but they might be very risky if you are not careful.
6. Do not choose save / auto-login options: Many websites and mobile applications, even the secure ones, might ask you to save your passwords. It might reduce your few seconds when you have to login the next time, but if your phone goes into the wrong hands, you are giving the key to all the secret gates decorated on a platter. A few extra seconds on manually entering passwords every time is totally worth it.
7. Never share OTP / Debit / Credit Cards details: Never ever share any OTP number you receive or any confidential information like personal details, card details, etc. with anyone either on phone or even if someone physically visits you and asks for the same. Any credible bank or card service provider would never ask you for such information and there is every possibility that such calls or visits are by fraudulent people.
8. Do not let your cards go out of sight: It is also important that you do not hand over your card and let it go out of your sight. There is every possibility that a person may copy all the card info and misuse the same later. Thus when you are eating out in hotels or shopping, always make sure that you pay with your card at the counter yourself, especially if it is an unknown place.
9. Clean your device before selling: If you are looking to sell your phone or your laptop, wipe out everything. Be careful in removing all browsing history, even softwares, applications, bookmarks, etc.
Double check for any data residing in anywhere. It is very likely that your new buyer will be curious to look for such data or traces of any information /content which he can use.
10. Do not fall prey to Scams: There are many instances where one may receive messages or emails asking for some personal information or messages promising jobs, money, etc. Do not fall prey to such messages which incite or threaten or request you to share any information or financial support for any reason whatsoever.
11. Other important things to do: √ Be careful in visiting proper websites of banks / social media accounts. Sometimes very similar looking pages may be sent in emails or listed in Google but they are not original sites. √ Be careful in downloading or installing any file from any unverified website. It may carry a harmful program. √ Be careful in connecting any third party device like usb / hard-disk or mobile etc. to your device as it may be infected. √ Always logout from your accounts after using the same from any browser at any place, especially outside home /office.
There is greater focus on digital economy and using technology in all aspects of our lives. Post demonetization, the government too is promoting digital economy and transactions in a big way. However, on the ground, there is a strong need for education and awareness on the risks it has and ways to reduce it. The idea behind this article is not to dissuade you from going digital but to make sure that you do so carefully. Going digital and online offer immense benefits to everyone and it is clearly the future. As responsible citizens, it is now up to us to embrace this change with proper care, safety and confidence so that we enjoy it to its fullest potential for times to come.