Vicious web: How safe are you?

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Tvm: Are you someone who has, at sometime or the other, been attacked online? If yes, you are in the company a growing population of netizens who have experienced some case of case of cyber fraud, ranging from phishing, key logging, identity theft to account takeover.

Cyber security is turning out to be a rare commodity, with awareness levels plumbing unfathomable depths. This could mean you wouldn’t even know when and how you are being attacked while on the vicious Web. Awareness and knowledge of fraudulent behaviour on the World Wide Web have assumed significance than ever before. Take for instance, the results of a recent survey commissioned by Verisign, and undertaken by IMRB, among more than 5,000 active internet users across 10 cities in India. Significantly enough, the results showed that concerns have started climbing with regard to online security.

Fraudulent behaviour seems to rule over the Net, and it comes as a shocker when it is revealed that as many as 91 per cent of the respondents of the survey have at one time or the other been subject to irksome frauds.

This brings us to the real sob story. Even as more and more Net users get cheated online, it is a fact that most of them stay ignorant of what has really happened to them. Despite the exposure to cyber fraud, a majority of people continue to repeat the same mistakes totally unaware of the means to combat the menace or even realize what has really happened to them while they were online.

Where do most of them err? A cursory look at internet behaviour would throw up certain basic truths. Despite the fact that the news media carry stories of Internet fraud almost on a daily basis, many still use the same passwords for multiple logins, or share confidential data to sites they believe are trust worthy.

As Dr. Shekhar Kirani, Country Manager, VeriSign India, while elaborating on the subject, says: “Users may be unaware of how to protect themselves online, but their desire to be safe is high.  The key is to keep one step ahead by knowing how to protect ourselves online, embracing best practices and using the latest technologies.”  Things seem to be moving towards better times, though not at the pace we would all like them to.  Net users are slowly waking up to the fact that security online is a must these days with almost all transactions entering the maze called the Web. Banks have started aiding safe transactions. The two factor authentication method also helps secure online life to a great extent. This verification process, in which an additional dynamic password is generated at the login stage by a device such as a credit-card form factor, token or mobile phone in addition to the user name and password, has proved to be of much help. Awareness levels can be built in similar terms to yield more effective results.
 
A sharp eye and mind while being online can help a lot. For instance, it is more likely that a fraudulent website might have on its pages mis-spelt words and grammatical errors. Looking for a green address bar in high-security browsers could help you stay safe. Also, making sure the site you open sports a padlock icon somewhere on the bottom bar or upper right hand corner, could make you reassured that you are browsing through safe territory. Surf safe, to stay safe.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

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