Every 10 minutes a cyber crime is committed in India as per a CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) report. While the crimes ranging from online harassment, identity theft and cyber stalking are gender neutral, experts believe that women and teenagers are more susceptible. In an era where every outing merits a social check-in and every get- together is accompanied with a customary FB/Insta post, breach of data privacy should not come as a big surprise. Knowingly or unknowingly we end up becoming soft targets for the online predators. In this article we share Cyber Safety tips & tools to help you make empowered digital choices.
1. It’s Birthday Time & you unsuspectingly make a public post thanking everyone for the wonderful wishes as you turn 31. From the point of view of a cyber criminal you just provided them with enough material for identity theft. Experts suggest keeping your year of birth private even if you wish to share your D.O.B publicly.
2. It’s a friend request from a stranger who is a Friend’s Friend. Tough choice this one. It is better to come across as rude and reject a stranger’s friend request than being vulnerable and exposing your personal data, photographs etc.
If someone wants to connect with you, online etiquette dictates that they must write to you first, explaining the reason why they reached out.
If you must add this person, always cross question their motive & double check with common friend before adding them.
3. Review your social tag & check-in settings: In real life do you announce to complete strangers that you are going out for a family holiday or dropping your kid off for a social outing? You see the gaping hole doing so on social media, leaves in your physical safety? Keep your privacy settings such that you get to review the content in which you are being tagged & customize the audience that gets to see your personal posts.
4. Disconnect your webcam & wi-fi when not using it: There are too many apps capable of turning on your webcam and recording your movement says a Norton Advisory. If somebody has installed some spyware on your Laptop, he could be watching you through your web cam and capturing your pictures without your knowledge. Disconnect your wi-fi & close the cover of laptop when not in use to avoid misuse of its webcam.
5. Use Virtual Keyboards in public domains: According to another advisory by @CyberDost (A cyber safety awareness handle maintained by Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India) avoid using public computers for online banking.
If you must do online banking on a public computer, use the virtual keyboard option to enter your username & password.
It will help prevent capture of your data via keystroke recording software.
Bonus Safety Tip: Your mobile phone can act as a detector by picking up frequencies released from the hidden wireless cameras. For eg when you enter the trial room or the suspected area, make a phone call and wave the mobile phone around.
If camera is there, its signal will interfere with the mobile signals. The call will either not take place or will give a buzzing/humming/click sound. It means there is some hidden camera around you.
Despite taking safety precautions these days, one may still fall prey to cyber threats. In such a case it is advisable to always keep screenshots as an evidence. As a woman, if you face abusive behaviour, harassment or hateful conduct on social media you may file a complaint with cyber cell or reach out to Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) HELPLINE using #HelpMeWCD or sending your complaint to email@example.com.