Rajat Mohanty, the co-founder and CEO of Paladion Networks.explains the dangers of sinking into the sinister world of web with a wrong click
It used to take days, if not weeks and months, to deliver a message to your near and dear ones in a foreign land, or to send a postcard back home. Even with telegrams, all one could do was to write ambiguous statements which were open to gross misinterpretations.
Today, however, it takes merely a click to get on a face-to-face chat with grandpa who stays miles away, view photo updates instantly of friends and relatives who are based in locations abroad or send video-based birthday wishes to your sister who lives in another city. Social media is fast-becoming an indispensable part of our lifestyles.
However, the digital realm has threats unique to itself. Let us discuss three lesser known facts that can throw you in direct line of digital peril and how to counter them to safeguard yourself:
Public and Private Network
It is a boon to get free Wi-Fi in the hotel that you checked into or the restaurant where you have booked a table for four. It really is, for cybercriminals as well. Using a public or private network, cybercriminals can breach the security of your device whenever you get connected to it, i.e. get internet access through a hotspot. Also, it is a widespread belief that Wi-Fi networks with passwords are secure, and hence cannot be breached. Making it easier to understand, they’re as safe as a door with a lock – though more time-consuming, it can still be broken.
Avoid using public, and private networks, especially without ensuring that the network has enough safeguards and breach prevention systems in place. Always keep an antispyware installed on your device, your firewall activated, and never access your critical accounts or make an online transaction using such networks.
“Who is your celebrity lookalike?” and “What will be your status update after 10 years?”
Social media is also popular because it effectively captures every whim and fancy that a human brain can imagine. Consider for example, a profile picture converting into a similar looking celebrity or a third-party application telling you about your personality. There’s no doubt about why such apps are viral. But have you ever wondered why none of these third-party applications that can even ‘predict your future’ ever show a negative result? Simply to increase promotion. But the underlying downside of using such applications is more dangerous than a mere deception.
By granting them access through your social media profile, you provide them your account details – which could also include friend list and your account activity. Also, these third-party applications are installed on an independent website, which inserts cookies into your system. Scripts in such cookies can override the domain restrictions and can acquire stored data from the original website and send it to an unrelated domain. In plain language, it can divulge your account details and other critical information to a cybercriminal. Avoid using such websites in the first place. Furthermore, always install an internet security software on your computer to have a secure browsing experience.
Internet cafés and workstations
Digital adoption in India has increased and at the time of dire need, internet cafés are a great help to one and all. They can be used to download an urgent document, send a crucial email, and also to check social media accounts in the meantime. However, apart from high probability of Trojan viruses and certain malware pre-installed on the device which can lead to security compromise, it can also come equipped with ‘Keyloggers’.
These hidden applications, which do not unveil themselves until the user performs a specific action, keep a track of the keys pressed and mouse clicks by you. This log not only reveals sensitive information about the user including private chats, it also informs the miscreant about the websites opened as well as the login information, granting them complete access to your account. The same can occur at your workstation.
Ensure that you have a malware and spyware detector installed on your device and carry the same with you in your pen drive. Only use a device after scanning it beforehand to prevent a security breach. If during an emergency it is not possible to use one, learn how to securely login on a keylogger-infested device.
Irrespective of the comfort, convenience, and connectivity that ‘the web’ offers us, an internet user must first become aware about the many threats to their security. Ensure that you do not make the above stated common mistakes, and you have tightened your digital security before offering that exciting update about your lavish meal on vacation!