Taking adequate care at the individual level and installing internet security solutions on devices, together, can go a long way
By Ritesh Chopra
The real world has become inextricably intertwined with the digital world. Online presence comes with the risk of exposure to cyberthreats. Yet, people’s behaviour, by and large, seem to reflect a disregard for cyber safety—from readily clicking on SMS links, using public Wi-Fi to bank and shop online, through to ‘sharenting’ and oversharing on social media. A Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report study, conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of NortonLifeLock during May 20-June 8 among more than 1,000 Indian adults, revealed that 82% of Indians say that the amount of time they spend in front of a screen, aside from work or school purposes, has increased significantly during the pandemic, likely owing to the new norms of working, learning, and shopping from home. During this time, cybercriminals are targeting consumers with an increased number of sophisticated attacks and well-coordinated scams. Yet seeing daily news reports about data breaches, identity theft, and cyberbullying is now worryingly common.
One of the possible reasons for this situation could be that not all consumers are well-informed about how to protect their internet-enabled devices and online activities. While they may have heard about terms such as ‘phishing’, ‘malware’ and ‘creeping’, not everyone knows the measures they could take. On the ‘Dark Web’, as an unregulated space, operators and users can work anonymously to avoid being traced, which has created a breeding ground for illegal online activities, including trading of people’s personal data, but the impact often spills over into the real world.
It is difficult for the user to know if the information they think is ‘securely’ on their device is being tracked or monitored by a third party. Often, users themselves unwittingly provide access to their information when they select options like ‘accept all cookies’, ‘save password/account details for future use’ or ‘grant activity surveillance across platforms’ without a second thought. The price for such momentary convenience can sometimes be a heavy one to pay.
The Norton Cyber Safety Insights 2021 Report showed that four in five Indian adults (82%) admitted to using personal information in their password, most notably their name (38%), their child(ren)’s name (27%), their pet’s name (23%) or a current (22%) or former (19%) partner’s name. However, Indian adults do take some security precautions, as 72% Indian adults with a Wi-Fi router (72%) change their Wi-Fi password more than once a year.
Protect your keys to the digital world; create complex passwords for all your accounts and applications—use a different password for each—and change them regularly. Do not share your passwords with anyone. Use a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your network and ensure the privacy of your digital activities. Practice safe computing, do not click on suspicious links or visit unsecured websites. Download software updates only from trusted, secure sources. And last, use a comprehensive internet security solution—it is a small but worthy investment. Nobody wants their personal and financial data being accessed and misused by cybercriminals.
Cyberattacks are on the rise against businesses, governments, and individuals alike. Many of the existing threats can be warded off by being aware and mindful of our actions and by keeping abreast of developments in the cyber landscape. Taking adequate care at the individual level and installing internet security solutions on devices, together, can go a long way.
The writer is director, Sales and Field Marketing, India & SAARC Countries, NortonLifeLock