The biggest dangers on the Internet

Digitalization & innovation, 22.11.2018

Given the times we live in, the internet has become an all-consuming part of our lives. From socializing, shopping to bill payment, we do everything online. Thanks to our smartphones, we are permanently logged in to our email and social media accounts.

As much as we like being connected 24x7 to the digital world, we also end up exposing ourselves to a number of cyber security threats, and its consequences can be catastrophic. Siphoning off funds or identity theft, anything could happen if we are not careful. Our colleagues from HDFC ERGO in India tell us about the four common cyber security mistakes we should avoid at all costs.

#1 Keeping weak passwords

Having weak and vulnerable passwords is one of the main reasons for cybercrimes. It is therefore advisable to avoid having passwords that are just a string of letters or numbers. This is why many sites require you to enter alphanumeric passwords and insist on inclusion of special characters. The more complex a password is, the stronger it is.
It is also a good practice to keep changing all your passwords from time to time. While remembering all different passwords could be challenging, there are applications which could help you with that. So avoid writing down your passwords in a diary or book.

#2 Replying to unsolicited mails

For all the smart and intelligent online practices we follow, there are times when we fall prey to unsolicited mails. Such mails are crafted in a way that they tempt you into replying to them with sensitive personal details such as passwords and credit card details. They are disguised as mails from your bank, tax authorities or those that promise you great returns on investment. The ground rule while replying to any mail should be; if you find it to be suspicious, DO NOT REPLY to it. Double check or verify its authenticity before taking any action.

#3 Downloading unverified attachments or apps

If you come across any unsolicited mail that insists on you downloading an attachment or installing an unknown app, it would be a good idea to delete that message or mail altogether. There is a good chance that it could be malware aimed at gaining unauthorised access to your laptop or phone.

#4 Using an unknown internet connection or Wi-Fi

While travelling or being at a public place such as a cafe, we often use any internet or Wi-Fi connection that is available to us. Sometimes we would also make online payments by using these internet connections. By doing so, we end up prioritising our convenience over security. This is because public Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to online breaches than a trusted connection.

By avoiding these mistakes, you safeguard your online experience from cyber attacks to a large extent. However, sometimes, in spite of all the measures you take, your online security gets compromised. This is where cyber insurance plays a crucial role, as it would cover financial losses due to phishing, unauthorised online transactions, damage to your e-reputation, identity theft etc.

Shefali Khalsa, Assistant Vice President, Marketing & Corporate Communication of HDFC ERGO

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