Is your Diet Cheating on you?

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:

  1. 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
  1. “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!
  1. 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?

  • ApathyRespondents 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:

  1. 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
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. SECURITY TOOLS: The importance of using advanced comprehensive security software can’t be stressed enough as they protect both your device and your data.
  5. 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.

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Smart enough for a Smartphone?

Hi cyber family!

I had a whale of a time last week since it was my son’s birthday. This summer has so many good releases lined up and we decided to check out the latest movie at the nearest multiplex. Following that, we had plans to go out for a lavish dinner to spend quality time together with the extended family.

That said, I did encounter one annoying thing at the multiplex. In between the popcorn munching and absorbing the visual effects, quite a few phones rang which became irritating after sometime. Interestingly, most of the phones belonged to pre-teens and this brings us to the topic for discussion for today.

When is the right time for kids to have a smartphone of their own?

Not very long ago, owning a smartphone was an adult thing. Tweens and teens, though definitely more adept at operating them, had to be content with the limited time they were allowed on their parent’s devices. But we now live in an age where technology changes or becomes obsolete almost overnight, and with this, the age limit for getting accustomed to a plethora of connected devices too has reduced considerably.

Truth be told, today the smartphone has almost become an extension of our hand and even more so for teens and pre-teens between the age of 10-16. Every day, we see an increasing number of teens and pre-teens (sometimes even younger!) working hard to convince their parents to buy them their very own smartphone.

The reasons offered being: that a smartphone will help them to keep in touch with their concerned parents at all time or the latest smartphone is a great incentive for securing good grades in school.

Bottom line: Our kids expect to lay their hands on a smartphone soon enough! And why not?

After all, we live in the era of smartphones with shrinking attention spans and customers expect everything to happen at the click of a button. We can now easily expect kids to grow up in such an ecosystem where smart devices will become the center of their world. Rest assured, curiosity can get the best of them and they will explore the entire spectrum of things that can be done with the new gadget. It is therefore, up to us to teach best practices which will help them use technology for the better.

So how do we decide what’s the right time to get our kids a smartphone?

While the answer to the above question is subjective, I believe that like any gadget, it’s a matter of need. I believe in Steve Job’s vision on technology and how it spurs innovation and presents a platform for creativity. That said, emotional maturity and showcasing an evolving sense of responsibility by the young one is crucial at a juncture when you decide to get them a smartphone.

There are plenty of tips to be kept in mind when getting your young one a smartphone. Why not start with the following?

  • Test run: Ask your kids to demonstrate responsibility with a second hand phone/ spare phone for some time before demanding a new device
  • Usage – At first, the tech world and its immense possibilities can be overwhelming. The long hours spent on devices may not be something a parent wants to see regularly. Set up expectations that they will need to showcase a balance, so as to moderate the technology/data consumption
  • Connectivity – Educate kids about the need to be vigilant while connecting with the digital world. Public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or even an unknown USB can be unsafe as there are cyber criminals waiting to trap unsuspecting individuals. Ensure clarity on steps to be followed like: having a reputed antivirus, updating it regularly, enabling a firewall etc.
  • Privacy – Make kids aware of all the private information that could be stored on their phones. This ranges from private texts with their parents, family photos or passwords and enforce that NONE of this data is meant to be shared or made public. Additionally, speak with them so that they respect the privacy of others too. Which means keeping smartphones on silent mode when in a multiplex or in public spaces!
  • Responsibility – Let’s face it, smartphones can be costly. Kids have to be informed so that they understand its value and not take the devices for granted. Simple things and examples of how to protect the phone against water, keeping it covered, taking care while commuting should be highlighted
  • Practice what you preach – As a parent ensure that you set up a good example for your kids because they will follow in your footsteps. Set strict house rules for yourself so that kids can emulate good habits too!
  • Most importantly, stay vigilant – Pay attention to the digital safety of you and your family’s online presence. Vigilance pays because initially the child might not be aware that any of their actions may be risky. Ensure you are using a comprehensive security solution to safeguard and monitor your children’s activities.

Let technology inspire confidence and help you all reach a new high.

Stay connected, the safe and secure way.