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By Yeldi on May 17, 2017

6 steps to tackle cybercrime in our backyard

Over the past one week the world has been gripped by the cyber attacks that go by the name WannaCry Ransomware. From electricity board companies to hospitals to even the Gujarat government hasn’t been spared. It is said that about 90,000 computers have been targeted in 99 countries. While conspiracy theories run from Chinese & Korean viruses to the more practical Windows XP vulnerability, let’s look at what a common man can do in his capacity to keep himself safe?

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1. Be suspicious of unknown email attachments, malicious downloads, apps promising easy schemes, phishing emails, clicking on links from unverified sources etc. A virus or trojan horse could be lurking around the corner. An attachment innocently forwarded by a relative could also be risky. Be double and triple sure with what you click on, install or download.

2. Connect to only known and trusted sources of WiFi. While most of us use known network connections at office or home or even at a friend’s house, be vary of free WiFi in public spaces like malls, airports, bus stations etc. Highly-insecure WiFi is wide-open for anyone to connect to and may be labelled as a “WEP” connection.

3. Always use an original antivirus program on your phone as well as your computer for protection. Update it regularly. Also enable firewall wherever required. Try to move away from pirated free versions. You will render yourself vulnerable.

4. Have a strict password security code on all your electronic devices. Do not share or write it down anywhere. Even saving it on an excel file and placing it on your desktop or D drive is not advisable. Do not use social media passwords for sensitive accounts like banks and digital wallets. Create a special unique alphanumerical password which cannot be guessed easily. Use different passwords for different accounts.

5. Regularly backup all your files. It might seem painful to do this once in a few days or on weekends but the importance of this cannot be stressed enough. While online backups and cloud storage is available, offline back ups are the safest. Backup on devices more than 9 months old needs to be reviewed and changed to a new form of back up. We have seen transitions from the humble floppy disc to CD, DVD, external hard disks to now the latest Blu ray. Don’t just backup official material, personal photographs and scans of important documents are just as important.

6. Keep yourself up to date with the world of technology. Stay one step ahead so as to not become prey to hackers and cyber thieves. Also keep a plan of action ready - steps to take if you lose your phone or your cards get stolen or even if you find your computer hacked. Always have with you phone numbers of banks to even the cyber crime cells. Know whom to contact and where. Escalate the problem as soon as possible.

At the end of the day we can never tell if we will be a recipient of this ugly cyber attack or not. Better to take a few precautionary measures right from the start rather than regret it later on. We also need to be responsible citizens and nip the trend of forwarding unverified rumours and attachments. Stay smart. Stay safe.

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