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Stay Safe From Cybercriminals With These Three Simple Steps

Image credit: WDnet Studio

The internet is now become bigger than ever. During the recent Singles Day, Alibaba broke its record once a gain by garnering revenue as much as $17.79 billion, surpassing its previous year record of $14.69 billion GMV. In Southeast Asia alone, the e-commerce sector is slated to become a $200 billion industry by 2025. Unfortunately, as businesses are moving their focus to e-commerce, so are criminals setting up shop in efforts to gain a piece of the pie.

On a global scale, cyber-attacks has costed businesses as much as $400 billion. This includes money lost from the damage itself and subsequent disruption to the normal course of businesses. In a recent survey, it was found that many in Southeast Asia still have concerns on the security of online payments:

  • 62% still fear financial fraud on the internet
  • 49% or participants worldwide still encountered feeling of vulnerability regarding online transactions
  • 42% expressed that they were more likely to utilize online payment solutions if they felt they were protected from cybersecurity threats
  • 37% have admitted to terminating a financial operation midway due to lack of faith in the security of the transaction

Though businesses & cybersecurity companies are diligently working to protect consumers regularly, we as consumers should be vigilant and be sure to protect ourselves from cybercriminals too. Here are three simple tips on how you can be safer online.

Surf & make purchases with a secure device

While smartphones were designed to make our daily routine at work and at home more convenient, we need to make additional steps that this same level of convenience is inaccessible to unwanted individuals. While phone reviews on media usually talks about devices with the best graphics and performance, we need to remember that software and hardware security features should be something we never skimp on. To date, devices with face recognition features and fingerprint sensors are great anti-theft tools.

Image credit: http://www.trustedreviews.com/

On top of this, cell phone security experts also highlighted that we should actively ensure that your phone data is encrypted and set up for remote wipe should your device be stolen. You can’t be too safe these days when you hear news that the safest iOS devices can be hacked by experts these days with a ‘one-time fee’.

On another note, as Android and iOS software developers have developed a more secured platform for our smartphones in recent months, Android devices still lags in terms of security. Apple remains the leader with the iOS as they have complete control its device’s entire ecosystem – from its hardware, firmware to its software. On the other hand, Android has no control over its ecosystem with its various hardware providers and Google’s eternal struggle to rid its Play Store of harmful apps.

As such, many are utilizing harmful Android devices without knowing it. Many are found using their Android devices without an anti-virus app. Free apps such as AVG and 360 Security provide basic but sufficient protection for your device. But be vary that some antivirus apps on Google’s Play Store are harmful, so be sure to make the necessary research to see which app best suits your needs and requirements.

SOLUTION: Purchase devices with great security features, ready your devices with remote wipe & secure your Android device with an antivirus app

Surf with VPN (especially at public or semi-public Wi-Fi networks)

Sure, public Wi-Fis are convenient and free but little do some of us know that every single thing we do online can be tracked. In some cases, even a HTTPS link can be compromised when you connect to an unsafe public Wi-Fi connection.

Image credit: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/

Though banks and credit card companies are constantly making their services fraud-proof, we ourselves have the responsibility to ensure that we make transactions in the safest manner possible. Therefore, it would be smart that we conduct transactions through our LTE internet connection or with hotspot via mobile to your PC rather than doing it over public Wi-Fi. An additional reminder, that you make purchases only on sites with HTTPS certification at its url.

Not to mention a recent finding by Kaspersky Lab found that a ‘cyberespionage group’ called Darkhotel, has specifically targeted execs on the road through hotel networks. The group accomplishes this by injecting malicious code into the Web portals used by hotel guests to log in to the local network and access the internet with just a guest’s last name and room number.

The infections are known to be brief and targets specific guests by prompting them to download ‘trojanized’ updates disguised as popular and secure software applications. Once installed, the software then downloads and installs information stealing programs without the user knowing it.

So, should we ban the usage of public Wi-Fi networks altogether? The answer would be no if we use VPN connections. Also known as a virtual private network, a VPN encrypts all outgoing and incoming traffic to a trusted internet gateway and masking your current IP address.

You can easily install VPN software as listed by TechRadar.com for the best free VPN software around and PCMag.com for those who prefers a quicker and ad-free service.

SOLUTION: Do not access your personal information and make online transactions over public Wi-Fi connections. If urgent, conduct transactions over mobile internet connections or surf with VPN connections on PC. Be sure to conduct transaction on sites with HTTPS certification.

 

Lock your PC when left unattended

Here is an easy tip: always lock your PC when it is unattended! Most of us assume our information is safe when we leave office for lunch and leave the PC unlocked. Though an office is a semi-private space, we can never be too safe these days when it just takes a few seconds to install a malware. With your PCs logged in as administrators, this makes it easier for a person to install harmful software tailored to evade detection by anti-malware software.

Image credit: negativespace.co

Cultivate this habit by adding a passcode lock to your device. Once set up, on Windows you can easily click the Windows key + L and for Mac, press Control + Shift + Power to lock.

Another tip is to set your PCs to automatic lock after a period of inactivity. This is great especially for moments when you forget to manually lock it. In your battery management settings, set a shorter period before your PC goes to sleep and make it require a password when using your PC again.

For those who read my experience on how a person can easily override your passcode lock and access data on your PC, it might be best to obtain laptops with built-in fingerprint or facial recognition such the new Microsoft Surface Book where your biometrics is all your need to unlock your PC.

Taking a step further, you can utilise a physical token to unlock your device such as the GateKeeper. This device uses a USB dongle and a fob that works as a lock and a key. Communicating via Bluetooth, your PC locks and unlocks depending on your proximity.

SOLUTION: Always lock your PC when left unattended and when possible, purchase PC with biometric security features.

Hope this helps! Any further tips I’ve missed out? Share with me at the comments below!

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This article was written by Jeremy Chew from iPrice Group, a meta-search engine in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.


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