Inspired by World Yoga Day last week, a bunch of youngsters have joined the yoga class, I frequently attend. It feels good to be sharing the anxiety and concerns that an unhealthy lifestyle can bring on to us. We’ve spent time during our cool-off period discussing new diets that might just do the trick to keep obesity at the bay.
I am fascinated to find that these health-conscious youngsters have covered almost all fad diets amongst them. There is one who swears by the detox tea diet while another can’t stop raving about the effectiveness of a carb-free diet. Most of the youngsters also remain quite attached to their smartphones browsing the internet, reviewing the new diets in the market, study them closely and keenly analyze discount offers for building muscle mass or even losing belly fat.
Scores of people across the country are doing the same, trying to find quick fix solutions for instant health benefits. That said, this search for instant gratification may present some security concerns too. To understand these concerns, Intel Security commissioned a new study, “Online Security Diet: You Are What You Click,” with MSI International in India and globally. Thought I’d share the key findings from the study along with my analysis of the underlying consumer behavioural patterns:
- “78% of the Indian respondents have considered dangers of unsafe online search terms but click on promotional diet links”. That’s a massive percentage, don’t you think? It shows our reliance on the internet for quick fixes
- “70% of those surveyed said that if a product or program is endorsed by, or features a celebrity, then they are more likely to click on the link.” Celebs matter in India and how!
- Also, 25% of those surveyed are actually unaware of how to check the security of a website before uploading personal details or making payment. There is a need for cross device security solutions
So what’s happening?
- Apathy – Respondents are admittedly aware of the threats, but in the zeal to achieve that near-perfect figure, often overlook security concerns
- Oversharing – Most admit they may share personal details like name, address, telephone, birthdate and credit card information with the websites. Some are even willing to share ‘before’ and ‘after’ program photos in bathing suits!
- Trust – It’s something which should not be given easily. Even if a known celebrity seems to endorse a link for a fad diet/pill, it should always prompt us to reason if it could be a suspicious link
The monsoons surely cool us down after the scorching summer but they also bring along many dietary cautions, abstinence from outside food and sticking to simple, healthy diets. Hence June is when a significant count of people start searching online for new healthy diet routines. While the diet programs or pills may or may not work but cybercriminals are definitely keeping a close tab of these searches. Having discovered the popularity of health websites, they may be targeting your transactions online.
Therefore checking the authenticity of websites and links before moving forward is critical.
Here are five quick tips for you to stay safe when surfing for health food information:
- THINK. CLICK: Spend some time checking the URL of the website, ensure it starts with https://. Read up reviews of the product, not just the ones supplied by the site itself. Can one really lose 10 kg in a month just by taking those magic pills and still be healthy? If you still want it then check the payment gateway, is it redirecting you to another site with a suspicious looking URL? What other information does the site require? Is it asking for date of birth, occupation etc.? Click on the link only when you are satisfied on all accounts
- Practice SAFE BROWSING: I would strongly recommend the use of web reputational tools like McAfee WebAdvisor (and it’s free!). It advises users on the safety of a site and also scans the security defence systems (Firewall and Antivirus) before you surf and even advises on your password choices!
- MAKE A SUPERMAN PASSWORD: The password is the key to your account and it better be strong and unique. Avoid using a combo of name and age or name and birth month- they can be guessed easily. Even a reverse set of numbers like 4321 is very easy to crack. Preferably use pass phrases, truncated to your choice, like “CllgIndx#6715* (College Index # 6715 *). Use a password manager for greater convenience. Multi-factor authentication goes a long way in securing your account as well.
- SECURITY TOOLS: The importance of using advanced comprehensive security software can’t be stressed enough as they protect both your device and your data.
- BE AWARE AND STAY UPDATED: Keep your eyes and ears open. When you discuss new fad diets, find out where your friends sourced them from and get their feedback on products and websites. You are responsible for your own actions online and therefore proceed with caution.
All good things come in time. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Ensure that you use the right links and continue to be vigilant.