The “new normal” has made us use internet-enabled devices, more than ever before, for activities such as remote working, financial transactions, online shopping, studies, and entertainment. Mobile gaming and online gaming, which were steadily growing in popularity over the years, have become an even more popular pastime since the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. However, we should be mindful of the fact that this increased exposure to the internet puts us at greater risk of exposure to many different kinds of online threats. Understanding the cyberthreat landscape is, therefore, extremely important. Only by knowing the possible risks can we take steps to protect ourselves and our devices against them.
According to the recent NortonLifeLock Digital Wellness Report*, 87% of the respondents in a survey believed that online gaming takes a toll on one’s health and were worried about the fact online gaming could expose their child to online threats. Many online games use chat services – an aspect that hackers and cybercriminals can exploit. It emerged that almost 81% of the respondents in the aforesaid survey were using parental control mechanisms on their devices, while 70% were aware of the fact thatconnecting with strangers while playing online games could lead to problems like cyberbullying.
However, the Digital Wellness Report indicated that children aren’t the only ones at risk of cyber threats or harassment. Adults, too, display potentially risky online behaviour in certain matters – online dating, for instance – that raise genuine concerns about privacy and data security. Almost 40% of the respondents in the survey were okay with sharing personal details with someone they had only just contacted through a dating app, without having met the person in real life. That is exactly the kind of behaviour that we must be wary about. One must always be cautious while sharing any kind of personal information with a stranger, whether over a dating app or over email.
The report found that female respondents (84%) were more aware than men (74%) about security threats, and that they had a security software installed on their smartphone. Furthermore, about 71% of female respondents (versus 63% of male respondents) concerned themselves with app privacy and permissions on their phones. In terms of generation, Gen Z users (95%) were found to be more proactive than millennials (94%) and Gen X users (90%) in adjusting the privacy permissions on their phone.
As our home and work environments evolve over time in a world that’s getting increasingly digitally connected, we should take greater care to protect ourselves and our loved ones from online risks. There are some simple measures we can observe.
NortonLifeLock recommends the following best practices to help safeguard your online identity:
- Use strong passwords: Don’t reuse your passwords across websites and apps. Make them complex and pick a random word that includes a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. Using a password manager to generate complex, unguessable passwords can also help.
- Keep your software updated: Cyber criminals frequently use known exploits, or flaws, in your software to gain access to your system. Patching those exploits and flaws can help make it less likely that you’ll become a cybercrime target.
- Think Before You Click: Be on the lookout for phishing efforts and questionable offers. Don’t click on dubious email or text message links or open attachments from an unknown source. They might take you to a site that asks you to reveal personal information, or that puts malware on your device. If you see an attractive offer on an item, ensure it is from a legitimate retailer.
- Use a full-service internet security suite: Invest in a comprehensive all-in-one protective solution that offers real-time protection against existing and emerging threats including anti-malware, spam and phishing, and increased cloud technologies to help safeguard consumers’ devices and information as they bank, shop and find love online, even when connecting on public Wi-Fi.
- Take measures to help protect yourself against identity theft: Be careful what you put online. NEVER post your address or personal information on your profile as this can lead to a whole host of problems beyond identity theft such as stalking and harassment.