The lines between the virtual world and the real world continue to blur in today’s world. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced professionals to work from home. Some of them are parents, who must also supervise their children’s education at the same time.
Earlier this year, NortonLifeLock released the findings of its Digital Wellness Report, wherein 83% of respondents said that their children played games daily on smartphones, while 37% said that their children played daily for more than two hours. These statistics are among the many that reflect a growing dependence on the digital medium for work, education, entertainment, gaming, transactions, and social interactions. And with this increased dependence come increased risks.
Cybercrime figures are high in recent times, especially since the pandemic, with network vulnerabilities and mining of consumers’ personal data being frequently reported. According to the NortonLifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report 2019, 39% of respondents in India were impacted by identity theft last year alone. Malware attacks can allow cybercriminals to take control over your systems and access your personal information and financial data, which can lead to crimes based on identity theft. In this age of digitization, data and personally identifiable information are of great value to cybercriminals, as they can be sold to data brokers while doing any type of advertising or marketing.
Cyber Safety, therefore, has never been more important. Here are some of the top things everyone should know about Cyber Safety in 2020 and beyond.
A virtual private network is more important than we realize: A VPN – short for virtual private network – provides a more secure link between employees and businesses by encrypting data. It helps in keeping the information exchange secure and out of the reach of cybercriminals.
Remember, the Internet is forever. Nothing really gets deleted: Make sure your wireless internet connection has security. Using public Wi-Fi or an unsecured internet connection could leave your data vulnerable to eavesdroppers and hackers. According to the NortonLifeLock Digital Wellness Report, around 24% of the respondents used public Wi-Fi to access the internet.
Cybercriminals are always trying to find ways of using different digital platforms to gain access to personally identifiable information: There was a rise in the number of KYC frauds during the lockdown. The dark web holds all stolen data, and once your PII is out there, it cannot be traced easily. Users need to be vigilant with the kind of data that they share online.
Phishing emails are not just spam: A link that we thought only contained some news may lead us to a cyber threat that can do much more damage than just attacking our device. To avoid such vulnerabilities, we need to keep our security and privacy settings up to date.
Being vigilant on social media is being smart: There are many risks that come with social accounts. Stalking and bullying are two very real dangers that can haunt us online and offline. Publicly broadcasting our location is not a safe thing to do. Let us be aware of online requests for personal information and delete all emails that do not come from a legitimate address.
Connected devices need protection too: Internet-connected devices such as streaming security cameras, light bulbs, and smart home products have in-built computers that store data. This means that they can also be vulnerable to security issues such as default passwords that are left unchanged since installation, or unsecured routers that protect these devices. Cybercriminals can easily bypass the poor security of these devices. The key to protecting privacy is learning how to properly set up and secure all internet-connected devices.
As we adapt to the new normal, it is important to not only understand the threats we could be exposed to in the digital world, but also ensure that we take proactive measures to secure our personal and professional data. In a world that will have more video calls, virtual events, and online shopping than before, cyber safety must be our priority.
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