We have talked so much about personal hygiene during the pandemic. Personal hygiene involves keeping your external body clean and healthy. The pandemic era has increased the number of digital devices and internet users around the globe. This has increased the importance of a concept known as cyber hygiene. The knowledge of cyber hygiene is mandatory to maintain the health of digital devices and maintain online safety. You can keep yourself and your devices safe by following a few important tips:
- Use the latest antivirus software. Update the antivirus regularly. Ensure that you are using secure versions of the software. Avoid clicking suspicious links. If you see any message or a link popping up on the screen with a message to open, do not click it. Develop a habit of checking and updating the software as well as the hardware regularly. Do not keep unused apps and data on your devices. It is better to delete the unused ones. Be careful in downloading any application.
- The applications that you download ask for your permission to access your photos, messages, and contacts. You cannot download the application until you grant access. So everyone should remember that the data on your phone is not private but it is public as you have given access to phone data to the owner of the apps. Next time when you either click a picture or send a message remember that your data is being accessed by someone through the apps on the phone.
- Try to keep strong passwords. The password should be a combination of numerals, special characters, and upper case and lower case letters. Avoid having passwords based on your name or the names of your family members, birthdates, etc. Change your password occasionally. Experts say that your password is like a toothbrush. No one shares a toothbrush with others. Similarly, avoid sharing your password. You select a good toothbrush for dental hygiene. Learn to select a strong password for the hygiene of digital devices. You change the toothbrush after a certain time. Do not forget to change your password occasionally. Avoid using the same password for a long period and each online activity. You can have a different passwords for a different purposes. For example, the password for your Gmail account and online shopping should be different.
- The mobile has become the depository for data. We store photos, documents; bank details everything on the mobile. Avoid keeping your official documents like a pan card or any other identity cards on mobile. You can use Google Drive to store documents. You can keep those documents in a pen drive and get a photocopy when you need it. Furthermore, if you are taking a printout or photocopy of the document, ensure that the document has been deleted from the system of the cybercafé. Do not forget your pen drive and the photocopies. Some may think that a photocopy is cheap so it is not a problem if it gets misplaced. Remember misplacing can be dangerous in case someone misuses your document.
- Avoid using free WiFi connections available at public places like railway stations, hotels, and airports. Control your temptation of using WiFi to check messages or upload photos on social media. You can do it using the internet data pack of your phone once you are at home. Any activities like online shopping and payments should be avoided through public WiFi.
- Online shopping has become more popular during the pandemic and its popularity is growing. It is good at times as you can order anything and the product is delivered at the door. Be careful while shopping online. Avoid shopping from untrusted sites. Sometimes you come across sites that pop up on your screen with exciting offers. Avoid the sites you hardly know about. A better option will be to go for cash on delivery.
- Be careful in uploading pictures. Avoid uploading close-up and front-faced pictures. These pictures are easy targets for those involved in morphing. When you are for a tour, picnic or movie click pictures to collect memories. Do not waste your time in getting the exact picture to gather the likes and comments of your followers. Spend time with people around you. Enjoy the beauty of the place or the cast of the movie. Do not be in a hurry to upload the pictures as it reveals your current location. There are many cases of robberies that occurred after knowing the location of people through their status on Whatsapp and Facebook. The pictures make you an easy target for hackers as your pictures reveal your liking, lifestyle, and family to the entire world through social media.
- Avoid contact with an unknown person on social media. Do not entertain friend and chat requests coming from those you hardly know. Many cases of defamation and blackmailing are reported every day due to friendships with unknown on social media.
- Fraudulent messages and calls are on the rise these days. It is common to receive messages like your account has been blocked or you have not paid the electricity bill. Do not call back on the number provided in the message. You can contact concerned authorities personally. These messages are intended to steal your data and deceive you. Never share the OTP, password, or the CVV of a debit card with unknown people.
- A new technique to deceive people is to ask for help saying that they have to make an urgent call to someone. They dial a number and pretend to talk. Meanwhile, all the data on your phone is gathered by the person on the other end. It is good to help. But be careful. You can dial the number and keep the speaker on phone.
We cannot give up using digital devices to avoid the trouble caused due to online frauds and cybercrimes. Be aware and follow simple cyber hygiene practices to keep yourself and your devices safe in the digital era.
Rajiv Gandhi College of Engineering Research & Technology, Chandrapur