Being online can put you under the scanner of cyber criminals looking for their victims round the clock. Now, exposing your basic and sensitive information on any platform might put you in the jaws of cyber predators just to be devoured. The constant fear of being a victim is as true as the earth we are living on. If your computer, laptop or smartphone is safe today, then you cannot be assured that it will be safe in future. Digitization has made Internet our constant companion and at the same time has increased the risk of drawing unwanted attention from the hackers. Staying alert is the only way to stay safe.
The following can ideate you about staying cautious while sharing your information online:
1. Open up Too Much on Facebook
Once you post something on your Facebook page as a status; it is out there for all to see. It is necessary to be cautious about what you are sharing on Facebook. If you have weak privacy settings, then you could actually make your identity vulnerable to online threats or even invite unexpected incidents like burglary (where your home address can be located easily).
• Never post any personal information on social media
• While you post something on Facebook, make sure you select your audience as ‘Friends’ and not ‘Public’ (if you are not sure of making it public.)
• Disable posting by others on your timeline.
2. Indulge into too much of Free Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is the easiest access since anyone (including hackers) can access it. In addition, any information you send or receive over such networks can be intercepted by anyone with a fair amount of knowledge about hacking. For instance, if you are shopping online over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, hackers can place themselves between you and the shopping portal, spying on all your information. This hacking technique is known as man-in-the-middle attack (MiTM).
• Try to avoid open Wi-Fi for sensitive activities like financial transactions, bank details, etc.
• Do confirm authenticity of the network from the service provider.
• Use VPN (Virtual Private Network) for an added safety measure.
3. Responding to emails from unknown senders
Unsurprisingly, email remains the most popular tool that hackers use to trap their victims. One skillfully crafted email bearing an urgent tone, something like ‘Your ATM is locked. Share your PIN and card number for security verification’, is good enough to trick an unsuspecting user into sharing this crucial piece of information with the scammer. This phishing technique has been laying waste to many businesses and individuals since long.
• Do not respond to unwanted, unknown or unexpected emails that ask you to download attachments or click on links.
• Even if such emails seem familiar, call up the sender and verify the situation first.
• Mark such emails as ‘spam’ or delete them from your inbox.
4. Weak Passwords
Choosing predictable and weak passwords are one of the common mistakes done by the users. Simple passwords ease our memory but throw our accounts at the risk of hackers. Very often, these passwords are used for multiple accounts, which make the situation worse. If a hacker cracks it, then it will not take much time for him/ her to steal the sensitive details.
• Passwords should be a mix of letters, numbers and special characters (or symbols).
• Use different passwords for different accounts, where there is no personal information.
5. Filling online forms
General details like name, contact number, email ID, residential address or even date of birth might seem to be basic information but these can be too important for scammers. For example, if you fill up any online form as a part of registration process to avail any services from a website, then the information you are sharing might be harmful unless you are sure of how this information is going to be used.
• Use a fictitious name, email ID and phone number while filling up similar forms as mentioned above.
Digitization has modernized our lives in many ways. Due to multiple online activities happening every now and then, it is quite common to lose track of how and which activities we do online frequently. This paves the way for cyber crooks to capitalize the opportunities. Nevertheless, the above-mentioned precautions can restrain you from being a victim.