Stop Neglect. Protect before you connect.

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As a part of the demonetization process, the Government of India has begun laying greater stress on facilitating a cashless society or a ‘less cash’ society. It may take years and reach to the results and there is an urgent need to look into that direction

The absence of robust cyber security laws in India is a major threat to the country’s dream of a cash-less economy. Instances of the massive security breach of 32 lakh debit cards, just months before demonetisation, is a strong indication that the country is yet to develop an efficient cyber-security system.

Paytm, a popular e-wallet in the country rolled out a Smartphone-based PoS system to enhance the reachability of the technology but there were serious shortcomings and it had to roll-back the feature the very next day. The lack of an adept checking mechanism for the modern banking technologies is an obvious deterrent towards a safe cash-less economy.

While much of the below are technical solutions to prevent you being hacked and scammed, hacking done well is really the skill of tricking human beings, not computers, by preying on their gullibility, taking advantage of our trust, greed or altruistic impulses. Here is a list of Dos and Don’ts that will protect your online accounts from hackers (Ref Mumbai Mirror).

Use anti-virus software

Your net-savvy friend may tell you that he doesn’t have anti-virus on his computer because it slows things down. But look at it this way, one wrong click and he may have to make the entire college project from scratch.

If in doubt, block

Just say no to social media invitations (such as Facebook friend or LinkedIn connection requests) from people you don’t know. It’s the cyber equivalent of inviting home the guy with an eye-patch who stares at you at the bus stop.

More than one e-mail accounts

A hacker who has cracked your main email password has the keys to your [virtual] kingdom. Passwords from the other sites you visit can be reset via your main email account. A criminal can trawl through your emails and find a treasure trove of personal data: from banking to passport details, including your date of birth. A separate account for your bank and other financial accounts, another for shopping and one for social networks is a good idea. If one account is hacked, you won’t find everything compromised.

Ignore pop-ups

Pop-ups can contain malicious software which can trick a user into verifying something. “[But if and when you do], a download will be performed in the background, which will install malware. This is known as a drive-by download. Always ignore pop-ups offering things like site surveys on e-commerce sites, as they are sometimes where the mail code is.

Two-step verification

If your email or cloud service offers it – Gmail, Dropbox, Apple, and Facebook do – take the trouble to set this up. In addition to entering your password, you are also asked to enter a verification code sent via SMS to your phone. So a hacker might crack your password, but without the unique and temporary verification code should not be able to access your account. Keying in a password or code 40-plus times a day might seem like a hassle but it is your first line of defense.

Only shop online on secure sites

Before entering your card details, always ensure that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser. Additionally, the beginning of the online retailer’s internet address will change from “HTTP” to “https” to indicate a connection is secure. Be wary of sites that change back to HTTP once you’ve logged on.

Didn’t expect, don’t click

The golden rule: Hackers infect PCs with malware by luring users to click on a link or open an attachment. Social media has helped criminals profile individuals. They can see what you’re interested in or what you [post] about and send you crafted messages, inviting you to click on something. Don’t.

Different site, different passwords

Keeping a common password for all online accounts is a lot like having the same key for all locks. The only difference being that it is a lot easier to get hold of the online key. Also never reuse your main email password. But most online users own accounts in over a dozen sites. So either tries and use clever variations or start doing some really heavy memory-enhancement exercise.

Don’t store your card details on websites

Err on the side of caution when asked if you want to store your credit card details for future use. Mass data security breaches (where credit card details are stolen en masse) aren’t common, but why take the risk? The extra 90 seconds it takes to key in your details each time is a small price to pay.
 Lock down your FB account

Keeping a common password for all online accounts is a lot like having the same key for all locks. The only difference being that it is a lot easier to get hold of the online key. Also never reuse your main email password. But most online users own accounts in over a dozen sites. So either tries and use clever variations or start doing some really heavy memory-enhancement exercise.

Don’t store your card details on websites

Err on the side of caution when asked if you want to store your credit card details for future use. Mass data security breaches (where credit card details are stolen en masse) aren’t common, but why take the risk? The extra 90 seconds it takes to key in your details each time is a small price to pay.

Prof. Avinash P. Wadhe

About Prof. Avinash P. Wadhe

Prof. Avinash Prakashrao Wadhe is an Assistant Professor, CSE Dept. G H Raisoni College of Engineering, Amravati.

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