The risk. More and
more hours are spent online by us as there is proliferation of devices, availability
of internet connectivity and usage of apps for everything – from official work
to personal use, social networking and entertainment. These require a login so
that we can have a better experience. The devices and apps require creation of
an account most of the time to log in so that we can enjoy a better experience –
downloading files, accessing premium features or content or moving to higher
levels in a game. We need to be doubly careful with our personal information so
that none of it is accessed by the device builders, app developers and hackers.
Here are some tips to keep ourselves safe from risks to our
information that lie online.
Password. First and the foremost is to have a strong password – a different one for each of our accounts or a single strong password under a single sign-on system that cannot be easily guessed. Avoiding dictionary terms and easily guessable words or a combination of words and figures would be good methods when choosing passwords.
Multifactor Authentication. We might have multiple email accounts – one or more official and many personal too. Most email service providers also provide a second authentication mechanism apart from a login name and a password. Making use of this multi-factor authentication feature will require the user to provide an additional authentication factor in the form of an OTP (One Time Password) received in a mobile device or in an alternate email or a phone call. This available in also most of the social networking apps too.
Apps. We are enticed by a lot of apps that keep asking for permission to access our content – contacts and personal information in our devices. We must be discerning as to whether we need to allow these apps to access such information unless the situations warrant it. If we had not been paying enough attention here, it is high-time we revisited our apps and removed such privileges to the respective apps.
Social Networks. Almost every information we provide when we create our social networking accounts and subsequently post in our name are at risk of being misused by the service providers and sellers interested in pushing their goods and services. Even our likes or comments to others’ posts are at risk of being monitored and accessed for dubious usage like targeted advertisements and offers. There are also recommendations from various sources that we remove our Facebook accounts so that we can protect our privacy. Others would have to go to Ad preferences option in such accounts to minimize risk of being spied by intruders.
Personal devices. We must be careful when we allow others to use our devices in which we not only store a lot of our personal information but also login to access our various accounts. It is better to log off and allow them to login with a different profile / account in the same device. This will keep them from away from our information.
Browsing history. Our browsing history and stored cookies must be deleted as frequently as possible to keep our personal information private. This will delete our search history, passwords and other vital information we provide in web sites and apps - probably for file downloads or registering for events and webinars. It will also be better to use the in-private browsing option in browsers when we know that we might have to provide personal information or search for confidential information.
Temporary files. All files and content of temporary / short term value must be deleted as soon as it loses its relevance so that any private content is inaccessible from these sources. Files of permanent value and longer relevance must be backed up and stored in secondary storage devices or cloud services locked up with strong passwords.
Phishing and Ransomware. Anti-phishing tools and software that will guard us from zero-day attacks and ransomware are essential these days to help us remain protected from hackers and attackers who are after not only our information but also information about others stored in our devices like phone numbers and email addresses.
Wi-Fi. While connecting to Wi-fi networks, we must be very careful as to who is the Wi-fi provider and whether it is a public network. Public networks that allow you to connect without a password or those that are provided in railway stations and airports are risky connections. They come with an added risk of exposing our content to others connecting to that network. Deny permission to make your device visible to others in the network if you are connecting to unknown networks.