Stay safe on the web

Every year, the second day of the second week of February is observed as Safer Internet Day — safety, however, in the virtual world should be followed every day.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

HYDERABAD: Every year, the second day of the second week of February is observed as Safer Internet Day — safety, however, in the virtual world should be followed every day. In the age of information, the Internet can be a boon if used correctly. If abused, it can leave behind a trail of helpless victims. On Safer Internet Day, CE speaks to cyber security experts, policy-makers and tech-savvy netizens on issues concerning social networking, digital identity, cyberbullying and more.

NS Ramnath, the author of The Aadhaar Effect: Why the World’s Largest Identity Project Matters, suggests ways to protect one’s data. “If you are worried about big companies stealing your data, you can use options such as Signal (for messaging), ProtonMail (for emails) and Brave (for browsing),” he says.

Niranjan Kumar, who works for a private firm in the city as a security engineer, says, “If you want to be safe on the Internet, you must think how a criminal uses it. But, have enough conscience and not commit a crime. Cyber criminals care a lot about their privacy than us.

They use virtual private networks (VPNs) and darknet browsers like TOR, which make it very hard for anyone to trace them on the Internet. For this reason, the darknet is considered to be the most unsafe place on the web. It can also be considered the safest place as no tech company can track what you, they cannot listen to your private conversations and nor can they map your facial expressions while watching ads.”

Civil engineer P Varshini, who is interested in digital currencies, says if bitcoins or any other form of digital currency if used properly, can be the safest means for financial transactions. “But since the subject is complicated, there’s a lot of fraud happening.” She adds that if one plans to use a digital currency, they should learn as much as they can about it from trustworthy sources and only then invest.

Meanwhile, police and NGOs in the city have been organising awareness campaigns regularly. “The invasion of digital technologies is inevitable, it comes along with the adverse consequences. We are aware of this problem, for the Internet is misused in many ways. We are one of the State’s that has come up with a dedicated cyber security policy. We’ve been stringent on the issue of child pornography,” says IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan.

What is Safer Internet Day
It started in 2004 as an initiative of the Europen Union-funded SafeBorders project. It is celebrated in about 200 nations with the intention to make the Internet a better and safer place

How to reach the cops
If you are a victim of debit/credit card fraud, e-commerce/investment fraud, cyber stalking, identity theft, breach of privacy and confidentiality, you can contact the National Cybercrime Helpline: 155260 which ensures same-day follow-up from the nearest cyberpolice

Some tips

  • Don’t use obvious passwords
  • Don’t use the same password for different websites. Use a service like 1Password to manage your passwords
  • Enable two-factor authentication
  • Don’t share your OTP
  • Don’t hand over your phone to strangers
  • Don’t do any financial transactions when you are in a hurry or stressed out
  • Avoid suspicious links
  • Don’t ignore security updates on your phone or computer

(By NS Ramnath)

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The New Indian Express