Combining The Old With The New

Mom look, that’s the app I was telling you about!” remarked my friend’s teen, pointing to an ad running on the TV.

Which one?”

See this, you can learn Physics at home with this app; Ramya tells me the lessons are very good and they make the concepts crystal clear. In fact they offer coaching in many other subjects,” explained the excited teen.

My daughter concurred, “Oh yes! I did an online course on Creative Writing. These courses are really good.

I was listening to the conversation and marveling at the level of awareness in today’s kids. They are so confident, aware of their problems and proactively look for solutions. They have friends hailing from different parts of the nation, and even the world, and they are well aware of global events. The world in fact has become a global village. Hence the demand for more knowledge, customized content and greater control over the learning process. This is the generation that is leveraging the net and digital devices to get the best of global education.

Education today is thus going beyond books and notebooks and understandably so. The internet has opened up multiple portals to the world of learning. There are just so many things to learn and so many ways of doing so. You can take lessons from an online teacher on a one-to-one basis, join a group education program, or do your own research using dedicated search engines and other customized tools- you take your choice. A plethora of such educational apps are available and many are free of charge. Even schools that still follow traditional teaching practices require children to do a lot of work online, including homework and projects, and children use these apps to enhance their learning and turn in great projects.

As a cyber security advocate, I however also consider the grey areas of learning with the aid of digital devices. These are mainly to do with the risks associated with all virtual world activities. Being aware of, and applying these checks, will make the entire learning process a safer and smoother one.

The following list will help you and your child to select the right educational app:

  1. Is the app age appropriate?

There are different apps out there for different age groups and learning levels. The right choice is necessary for learning to occur.

  1. Is the app free?

It’s always best to purchase the app. You will get better quality content and the app is more likely to be malware-free. Some apps and websites do offer free solutions and recommendations but for deeper learning, dedicated apps are necessary.

  1. Is this the right app?

Ask around. There are just too many apps and it is difficult to choose. Find out what apps your child’s friends are using. Ask your child’s teachers for recommendations.

  1. Does it need 2-way communication?

If the app requires the learner to take oral quizzes or tests with camera on, you will want to monitor this.

  1. What is the data requirement?

Ideally, there should be a mix of online and offline time or else data consumption might be high and child may be tempted to access social media sites at the same time.

  1. What permissions does the app require?

Class, age and email is permissible but if the app wants access to photos, contacts etc., then you may want to reconsider.

  1. Is the security at maximum?

This is necessary to identify unauthorized downloads that may occur and also to block pop-pups.

As we move towards our vision of Digital India, the use of digital devices is likely to increase in all fields and our children, the future digital citizens, are on the threshold of this changing scenario. Some of us may still be new to technology but it is still our duty to help make the digital experience for our kids the best and safest possible. Collaborate with teachers and other parents and do your own research online to always make the right choices for your child.

Next time we will explore if your kids are playing virtual hide-and-seek with you by selectively hiding their activity. Till then, sayonara.

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Raise a United Voice Against Cyberbullying: Stop Cyberbullying Day

What does Zoe Saldana have in common with Sonam Kapoor, other than the fact that they are both renowned actors? They have both faced bullying online. And due to the anonymity and sense of security offered by the internet, not just celebs but even ordinary people like you and I could be subjected to cyberbullying.

Isn’t it time we stand together to put an end to it and say ‘Stop Cyberbullying’?

The digital world offers everyone a chance to connect with people, and voice their opinions. Unfortunately, some people misuse this privilege to harass others, victims could suffer from emotional disturbances or in extreme cases even fatalities.

Our children are the first generation of digital citizens and often, their posts and online actions make them easy targets for bullies so as parents, we need to guide them on social media etiquette, and also explain the threats of the virtual world to enable them to handle adverse situations.

Consider this:

  • According to the McAfee 2017 study “New Family Dynamics in a Connected World,” 49% of Indian parents have shown concerns about their child potentially interacting with a social predator or cybercriminal online.
  • The 2015 McAfee Teen Tween Technology report states that 43% of the children active on social media claim to have witnessed cruel behaviour on social networks. Almost one out of four (22%) of those active on social media claim to have been the victim of cyberbullying themselves

Are parents aware of cyberbullying? The good news is yes, they are, and most of those surveyed said they have discussed this issue with their children and follow their children on their social media networks. Having said that, there are still many parents who do not believe in monitoring their kids online. Children, especially teens, are quite vulnerable and prone to peer influence. They need guidance on handling cyberbullying and parental support is paramount. A confident child will usually not seek attention or approval among strangers online.  Kids who are bullies also need counselling and guidance, further stressing the need for parental supervision.

Sharing a few tips on creating a safer and inclusive online environment:

  1. Choose your friends with care. It’s easier for rude people and strangers to bully you. Be wary about accepting requests from strangers. Never give out your cell phone number and email address, and never reveal passwords even to close friends.
  2. Mind what you share: What you say and how you say it, makes a difference. Also, keep personal information private. By refusing to use privacy settings, your profile is open to anyone and everyone, which increases the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated
  3. Be positive and don’t react: Don’t lose your calm and react- this what cyberbullies want. You should take measures after careful deliberations.
  4. Ignore, block or unfriend those who provoke or humiliate you. Block and report abusers by clicking on the ‘report abuse’ icon. If the issue persists, you can always take help from your parents in resolving the same
  5. If you are cyberbullied, share your experience with people you trust. Unburdening helps you to get good tips and the support proves invaluable to regaining emotional strength. Reach out to your parents or close peers at the first sign of bullying or conflict online.

Quick tips for parents to help them be on the top of things

Talk to your kids, frequently and frankly: This is THE most important thing to do to help you stay aware of what’s happening in your child’s virtual life and for them to feel free to confide in you. You can use role playing with real life situations to help kids learn how to respond to online bullies.

Monitor and mentor kids until they are mature enough to handle online issues on their own.

We are part of the #STOPCYBERBULLYINGDAY campaign because we are committed to a positive and all-inclusive culture in the virtual world. McAfee security solutions like McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe offer parental control feature to help parents remotely monitor their kids. This is an excellent way to monitor, guide and keep them safe online.

Raise a united voice against cyberbullying by joining a Twitter campaign on 16th June. Use the hashtag #STOPCYBERBULLYINGDAY to share your views, tips and stories on cyberbullying and mark your solidarity with the movement.

Curbing The Threat Of Fake Accounts

My bubbly teen was so excited the day she found Priyanka Chopra had started following her on Twitter. She was literally hopping around the room, squealing in delight. As a parent and my daughter’s cybersafety guide, I checked her page to confirm and what I saw made me sad but I had to burst her bubble.

No darling, that’s not the real Priyanka Chopra following you but a fake twitter account. See here @priyankachopra ‏, this is her original handle. And see this blue tick – it means Twitter has validated this account to be a genuine one as it usually verifies popular accounts.”

“Why do people create fake accounts then?” ranted the peeved teen, as she angrily blocked the fake handle. (It’s painful to lose a celeb follower on social media you know.)

Why indeed? Why do people create false accounts on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook? For the same reason why we have fakes/imitations in the real world; someone stands to gain from it, or leverage it to make mischief.

Are the number of fake accounts significant enough to warrant attention and action? It apparently is. According to a research carried out by a graduate student at UCL recently, there are more than 500,000 fake accounts on Twitter alone, for instance, Deepika Padukone’s account (@Deepika_Officia). Fake LinkedIn accounts of company CEOs is a common way to fraud job seekers signing up on the site. Another big fake account source is the duplication of celebrity accounts and hapless fans often end up following the fake account online. These can do major harm by sharing false or inappropriate content. Fake accounts are also created to boost follower counts, share incendiary or dishonest messages, create trending topics, send spam, troll and abuse users, launch scam or phishing attacks or set traps for naïve children.

Fake account creators bank on the intrinsic trusting nature of users that lead them to believe in the authenticity of an account. They leverage this trust to swindle, bully, defame the person or others. So, the thing to do is to be skeptical and vigilant.

Identifying fake accounts on social media:

This is not an easy task by any means, but still we need to be vigilant to avoid risks. Here are a few pointers that will help you stay safer online:

  • Absent: The account does not engage in real-time conversations much
  • Mechanic: Repeats a single message and tags several accounts at random
  • Agenda: Shares false, inappropriate or suspicious content consistently. Sometimes engages in trolling or bullying and apart from it, does not share any tangible storyline or views
  • Inadequate identity: A Twitter handle without a profile image
  • Imposters: New friend requests from existing friends, not to mention those suspicious favors asked online. The moment you come across a duplicate or fake account, flag and report it. That way the sites would know of its existence and take remedial actions. And never be in a hurry to accept friend/follow requests. Take your time. Check the account profile, posts and friend list. Then decide. Do not trust blindly- each new friend or follower need to earn your trust before you interact with the account. Remember to be a true Doubting Thomas when online. STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

 

The Week That Was In Internet History

From the wheel to the internet, we have come a long way in terms of technological progress. While the invention of the wheel set human progress in motion, the industrial revolution with its assembly line production gave it a boost and now the information revolution has catapulted us to the digital age.

This week we observed Internet Day on May 17. Internet Day, aims to show the possibilities offered by new technologies to improve the standard of living of people by giving them more understanding of technology and its functions. Ironically, we also saw one of the most prolific ransomware attacks in history with ‘WannaCry’.

While the digital revolution has disrupted industries and eased the way we live, work and think, it has also led to loss in the form of identity theft, malware and the topic of discussion i.e. ransomware. Today, innumerable companies collect information about us, the consumer, for their research and are susceptible to breaches.

As Spiderman says (Peter Parker to you), “With great power comes great responsibility.” Cliché, I know, but true at a time like this. In a day where big data is instrumental in winning opinions, it is necessary that each one of us know how to use technology safely and responsibly. Data privacy and cybersecurity form the core pillar of the privilege of technology, and so let us refresh our understanding of internet security. In order to stay prepared and keep your personal data secure, follow these tips:

  1. Back up your files:Always make sure your files are backed up. That way, if they become compromised in a ransomware attack, you can wipe your disk drive clean and restore the data from the backup.
  2. Update your devices:There are a few lessons to take away from WannaCry, but making sure your operating system is up-to-date needs to be near the top of the list. The reason is simple: nearly every software update contains security improvements that help secure your computer and removes the means for ransomware variants to infect a device.
  3. Schedule automatic updates.It’s always a good practice to set your home systems to apply critical Windows Security Updates automatically. That way, whenever there is a vulnerability, you receive the patch immediately.
  4. Apply any Windows security patches that Microsoft has sent you. If you are using an older version of Microsoft’s operating systems, such as Windows XP or Windows 8, click hereto download emergency security patches from Microsoft.

The recent WannaCry attack is perhaps one of the largest and most widespread ransomware attack in recent history, with India being a prime target. The most affected were those, who were running old and unpatched software, which threatens more than just data of the consumers. While there is no silver bullet to security, this attack does serve as a reminder for consumers to prepare for ransomware attacks.

Stay safe. Together is Power!

New Family Dynamics As Connected Lifestyle Grows

“You know that we are living in a digital world

and I am a digital girl.”

I often find myself humming the above lines when I am struck by how digital has become a part and parcel of our lives. Digital India has made the internet an indispensable part of consumers’ life. From benefits related to education, medicine, transportation and entertainment to your personal comfort at home, internet related services have come a long way.

As our real world and cyber world merges, there are bound to be changes in the family dynamics. Devices, for instance, our smartphones are already playing an increasingly significant role. We can use it to turn the TV into a smart TV, operate the car lock, connect the home CCTV system to our smartphones, or even monitor AC temperature of our homes.

The growth in connected homes equate to new family challenges. Are we aware of all the implications and challenges of a smart home and how to prepare our kids for it? To better understand family behavior and attitudes towards the connected lifestyle, McAfee conducted a global survey of 13,000 adults about their family’s evolving digital habits and more.

The McAfee global survey, “New Family Dynamics in a Connected World,” emphasizes the need for simple ways for parents to manage internet connectivity in their homes.

Indian parents are concerned about their children’s internet usage. 93% of the parents have had a talk with their children about the dangers of cyber criminals and identity theft. 49% of parents are worried about the potential interaction of their child with a social predator or cybercriminal. Many are monitoring screen time, with 57% of them limiting it to 1-2 hours per day. Some parents have admitted to having arguments with their children about taking devices to bed.

Concern shows awareness and needs to be backed by suitable actions. Start conversations about cybersafety early. Set simple rules like, “always use passwords” or, “don’t open emails from strangers.” You also need to stay aware of new apps that your children like and use.

Digital use monitoring continues to lag behind. In India, 84% of parents allow their child to bring an internet-connected device to bed, much higher than the global average of 76%. Of those Indian kids taking their devices to bed, 32% of parents monitor their child’s device usage but 24% do not.

You can really help your child by playing a more proactive role. Besides securing your child’s device, you may want to have the passwords for their social media accounts until they are mature enough to handle all online activities responsibly.

Adults are still not setting a very good example. On an average, 43% of adults are spending more time online than on face to face interactions when at home (40%). Consider this, 71% of parents have been called out by their child for being on their device during family time!

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As parents, you need to teach your child good digital practices through your own examples. Why not limit your own screen time and keep your device away during family time? This will send the message across that it is also important to interact in person and there are times when you need to keep the device away.

With digital getting integrated into children’s everyday lives, it’s imperative for parents to implement a few do’s and don’ts.

 Quick tips:

  • Secure devices: Use comprehensive protection, like McAfee LiveSafe, across all devices and set up parental controls for each child.
  • Stranger-danger: Teach your children to say “NO” to interactions with anyone they don’t know well in real life.
  • Strong password: Teach kids the need for strong, unique and secure passwords
  • Share passwords with parents: Children need to keep their parents updated on all their passwords until they are mature enough to understand and handle their digital responsibility.
  • Clean devices: Minimize the amount of data stored on a device. The less data on the device, the less there will be for hackers to steal. Be sure to back up your data via cloud storage or external devices.

The times are changing and children continue to seamlessly adapt to new technology. What you as a parent can do is teach them to practice digital balance early on. Keep communication channels open. Set rules but at the same time, allow them some privacy and freedom too. In the digital world, the security of connected homes depends a lot on its members. Get your family to start following cyber safety rules to make the most of your connected lifestyle.

Have a great day!

Livestreaming – This Is What You Need To Know

The Indian Premier League fever is on, that annual T20 cricket fest that everyone awaits so eagerly. The munchies are out, the best sofa seat is reserved and all household chores completed. If you are not at home or don’t have a TV in your hostel – No worries, your smartphone will be your TV on the go!

Livestreaming is trending now thanks to the convenience it brings. It is not just about watching matches online, you can also livestream the latest TV shows, movies or performances on the go. If you happen to be a football fan, you wouldn’t want to miss even one of the supercharged UEFA matches that you can livestream on your device.

Thanks to the rise in popularity of the internet across the nation, smartphone penetration, and exciting offers on data usage by service providers, livestreaming has taken Digital India by storm. People are making most of this service, not only to catch up with their favorite shows and sports, but also to share with their experiences through social media

So, what is livestreaming?

Live streaming involves the delivery of internet content as it is happening with no cuts or edits. The videos are uploaded on social media and they start playing right away without waiting for the whole file to download. Also, they don’t get automatically stored on the device either.

Initially there were apps that allowed one to livestream events to friends or the public, but now many social media forums and even TV channels offer these services. So, if you are planning to watch the latest season of Game of Thrones even before it has aired in India, or share your child’s first dance recital as they perform, go ahead and do so, but first, you need to be aware of some facts on livestreaming.

yber threat warning – While using free live streaming apps, you may find pop up ads covering the video you want to watch. The ‘close ad’ buttons could be fake, only to launch malware attacks. Another way cybercriminals target their victims is by asking the user to download “special software” to make the stream work. The software you download has a higher likelihood of being malicious.

As they say, ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Therefore, is it important to consider few do’s and don’ts while livestreaming:

If you are livestreaming content from the internet:

  • The content factor: Because it is shared live, the video may contain inappropriate content
  • The Free factor: Watch your favorite games, TV shows, or movies via a verified website and enjoy without worries. Be wary of free offers, because that may put you at risk of downloading viruses or cookies that could either steal data or compromise your device
  • The security factor: Always use devices which have security installed on them to livestream content to enjoy continued peace of mind and safety
  • The gambling factor: Betting firms advertise a lot on livestreamed content and there is always a risk of children getting lured to these sites. Further, the ads may contain adult advertisements which is inappropriate for children
  • The data factor: Long hours of livestreaming involves high data consumption and you may want to talk to your child about increasing costs and data limits

If you are livestreaming content to the internet:

  • The copyright factor: It may not be appropriate to livestream events like plays, concerts, private music shows, movies etc. without verifying if it’s allowed. You need to get prior permission
  • The privacy factor: Do ask for permission from all concerned first before you start livestreaming events like marriages, parties, dances, prayer services. Some people may not want to be in the frame and their wishes should be respected. Similarly, if you are being filmed and don’t like it, say so clearly
  • The location factor: Livestreaming from home or elsewhere with location turned on can be an open invitation to strangers to connect with you. Do not share personal videos or details without parental permission

 

Secure your device with the latest that security has to offer, like McAfee LiveSafe, opt for paid services and then sit back and enjoy the match-or whatever it is that you want to watch.

There falls a wicket and I am off to watch the match being livestreamed on a big screen in the society garden. Join me? J

Online Shopping Festivals-Things to Do Before Clicking on Add to Cart

Online sales are a huge rage these days! E-commerce firms are competing with each other to offer consumers the best deals possible. Sales carry attractive taglines like Up to 70% off, Midnight Flash Sale or Festive Discount. What could be more convenient than shopping comfortably from just about anywhere at any time?

Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also loving online shopping as it gives them an opportunity to harvest personal and bank/card details from unsuspecting consumers.

You might have come across one or all of these ads listed below, either on Facebook or WhatsApp or Pop-ups on different websites:

  • Super- Dhamaka offer!
  • Get free 4G internet for today only!
  • Share this sale link with 10 friends and stand to win an iPhone 7s

Sounds familiar? Perhaps you have clicked on the links and checked out the offers, and not just you, many other judicious net users too are lured by such tempting offers and proceed with purchasing.

The popularity of social media has made it a very useful scamming platform for cybercriminals, as messages are shared quickly and widely, especially since people tend to believe in messages sent by friends and then fall victim to phishing scams. Like this one below which was making the rounds last year:

Breaking News, Now Buy 16 GB Pendrive at Just 19 Rs. Buy It Now Before Sale Ends. Cash on Delivery Also Available. Visit  now http://XYZ.com

Fraudsters usually like to piggy back and leverage genuine ongoing sales to scam users. So, the moment reputed e-tailers like Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart start their mega online sales, there is likely to be a plethora of hoax websites and links shared via social media to direct users to these false sites. And scammers have become quite proficient at creating sophisticated and genuine looking websites that can trick a regular buyer too.

Does that mean you avoid buying anything online? NO WAY! I love it and I am sure you do too.

 Things to do before you start filling up your online shopping cart:

  • Check the security of your internet connection: First thing to do as an unsecured connection like public Wi-Fi can make it easy for hackers to steal your details
  • Check device security: Ensure you are using comprehensive security software to keep your device secured.
  • Check domain name: Before you click on the link, check the URL. For example, Amazon.com is quite different from amazon-flashsale.com
  • Check offers: Too good to be true? – It probably is. Cross check prices with other sites and with product review columns. Do you really believe an iPhone 7s can be priced at only Rs. 15,000?
  • Check refund and return policies: Read the T&Cs and the return policies and check the star rating of the seller. Proceed only after you are satisfied.

Cyber safety tips for, you, the smart online buyer:

  • Ignore emails from unknown sources: do not try to unsubscribe from these unsolicited emails. You could be just letting the scammers know that your email address is active. Mark as spam and move on.
  • Be suspicious: It’s good to doubt claims that seem too good to be true, and messages that contain too many words in capital, e-mojis and grammatical errors.
  • Be aware: Keep track of ongoing sales, hoax messages doing the rounds, and new phishing scams.

Knowledge is power and if you approach the shopping festivals armed with secured devices and updated info on scams, you will smartly avoid the honey traps set up by cybercriminals. Have a safe and secure online shopping experience!

 

E-Filing Your Tax Returns? Let It Not Tax Your Security

How many of my readers are aware of Digital India campaign? Yes, I am sure just about everyone has come across the government’s active effort to ensure India is ready for the future. It aims to make the majority of the government services available to every citizen, and online filing or e-filing of income tax returns is one such service many benefit from. It is simple, quick and convenient, and even offers special provisions for those who have missed the deadline. You probably are familiar with the system and have been using it over the past few years to file your returns.

However, there is one small hitch; cyber criminals are trying to leverage this to launch phishing attacks on unsuspecting users in an attempt to exploit them. Scammers dupe unsuspecting victims to part with their bank details and passwords through emails purportedly from the IT Department, and siphon off money from their accounts. Or, they may simply steal identity details and misuse them. It is therefore necessary to know how to identify a genuine email from the IT Department (check address, logo, content, grammar, salutation).

To state a common example, hackers send emails confirming returns and ask you to click on a link to fill in details like bank account number, password, date of birth etc., to process the return. Others scams include the “Income Tax Receipt” and “Verify PAN details”. The recent W-2 phishing attacks in the US are examples of scams where the TDS details of several employees were obtained via phishing. Taking cognizance of the rise in cyber frauds related to e-filing, the Department of Income Tax issued an advisory to protect unsuspecting users from phishing scams, in which it is clearly stated,

The Income Tax Department NEVER asks for your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts through email.”

Here are a few suggestions to make your entire e-filing experience a smoother and safer one.

  • File way before deadline: You got to pay it, so pay up in time. If you delay and then have less time to complete the procedure, you will hurry and in the process may become less cautious.
  • Share personally identifiable documents with care: Be careful of who you share your identity documents with, including photocopies of your PAN and Aadhaar cards. These can be misused to create false identity
  • Do not trust links or zip files sent via e-mails: Do not open zip files or click on links even if the mail appears to be from the Department of Income Tax. If you want to know your refund status, check on the official website using your personal login credentials
  • Ads can be misleading: No free lunches, remember? An advertisement that offers to make the whole e-filing process seem like a cakewalk may actually be a phishing attempt. Consult a tax advisor or a trusted friend, but not an unverified site.

Smell something fishy? It probably is: You will never be asked to share your net banking password, email login details or your PIN while e-filing. Sound the mental alarm if any website asks for these. Though your email service will offer spam filter, hackers are becoming smarter. They are designing mails that look very authentic to penetrate your trust. I am sure that by now you all are using the amazing free tool McAfee WebAdvisor from Intel Security. Follow its advice on secure and suspicious sites to be better protected from online scams. The Department of Income Tax, Government of India, advises users to Use anti-virus software, anti-spyware, and a firewall and keep them updated.

While tax season is a particularly vulnerable time, security risks exist year-round. In order to prevent private information getting into the wrong hands, choose security options that are easy to use and mobile-friendly. Don’t let Tax, Tax your security 😉

True or Fake News? Know How You Can Separate Truth from Fiction Online

In the good old days, it was very easy to separate truth from fiction. Literature was clearly marked and newspapers offered facts. Those who told tall stories, or tabloids that indulged in sensationalism, were generally known and their words were taken with a grain of salt.

People are increasingly taking to the internet to get their daily news dosage. While some subscribe to websites to read newspapers and magazines, others like to browse through WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to get the latest headlines. In the connected era, false news gets dissipated widely via social media. As these stories are easy to understand and sensational, so they have a greater appeal to the masses. And the ones you believe are true, you are very likely to share it online or through chat apps, thus becoming a newsmaker yourself.

So think about it, is everything that you read online, really true? Not always.

Take for instance this piece of ‘news’ that a friend shared on Valentine’s Day, “Shahid Bhagat Singh was hanged to death on this day. Let’s mark this as Remembrance Day.” She really believed this to be true and thought it was her duty to make it common knowledge.

Or the following,

  • UNESCO declares Jana Gana Mana as the best national anthem in the world
  • Delhi man loses 30 kg in three weeks thanks to this superfood

And not surprising at all, all of this ‘news’ is fake.

The fabricated stories are designed to look authentic and intended to either make money by attracting high traffic to the site or to endanger trust.

Should you be worried about fake news?

Can you imagine the effect of fake news on impressionable tweens and teens? Ideally, this part of cyber safety education could be taught in junior school, to ensure children grow up informed and aware that one needs to STOP.THINK.CONNECT. But until that happens, parents need to educate them and for that it is necessary they themselves are aware.

So, time we find out how to identify fake from real and stay clear of them. Always look out for the following signs of danger:

Domain Name:

  • The name is a clever imitation of a genuine site, for e.g., ‘wikipidi’
  • The message contains a link that directs user to another site, which may contain malware

Tip: Don’t get foxed by the fancy looks of a site. Go to the official webpage and verify.

Source of publication:

  • If the source is unknown or anonymous, flag it.
  • If it contains a disclaimer at the end, like “forwarded as received” can you really trust the message?
  • Personal blogs reflect the opinion of the blogger and may or may not be a rational one.
  • Reports and thesis with grammatical and factual errors reveal that the content has not been researched well and may contain factual errors

Tip: Adhere to reputable and official news sites that are known to follow ethical practices of journalism and avoid sensationalism. Cross-check facts.

Your role as a responsible and digital literate person:

  • Be aware: Double check content with well-known sources and cross-verify with other sources
  • Be skeptical: If you feel any content is a hoax, cross-check and then report it. Facebook allows you to do so, as do many other platforms
  • Be sure: Don’t play accomplice, verify before sharing.
  • Be careful: Do not click on links sent via social media without ensuring its authenticity
  • Be dutiful: Educate others when they share incorrect news and report it.

Last but very important, always use comprehensive security software on your device to safeguard your digital life. Fake news often contains cookies and malware intended to harm your device and steal information. It is more difficult to identify fake links and websites on a mobile phone, so you need to secure your smartphone and tablet too. Your security solution will guide you around safe and unsafe websites and help you make the right choice every time. You may also download the free tool, McAfee WebAdvisor, here.

With practice, you will become adept at separating the grain from the chaff. Remember the cybersafety mantra- STOP. THINK. CONNECT. – and practice it.

Stay protected and stay Cybersmart!

This Valentine’s Day Let Your Digital Life Take a Backseat

A couple of decades ago, Valentine’s Day was all about red roses, exchanging cards, dinner dates, hand-holding and whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears. Partners had no eyes for anyone else – their world consisted of just the two of them.

Have things changed in any way in the connected era? A study conducted by Intel Security in India shows it has; as love in the cyber age is facing competition from gadgets!

Take a moment to think – how many hours (not minutes) everyday do we spend on our phone? Yes, we need to take that call or check whether an expected mail has arrived or watch photos uploaded by friends. But it all means time away from real, face-to-face relationships. Intel Security recently commissioned an India study which reveals that digital lifestyle of Indians is getting in the way of their connected relationships.

Head over heels in love…. with tech?

The average Indian adult spends 43 percent of their time online at home, and only 40 percent of their time interacting face-to-face. Devices have become such an integral part of their lives that they continue to use them even when on a date! Many complained their partners seem to like their devices more than them!

Can’t take your eyes off… your device?

Even after the first date, cyber citizens do not keep the device away when they are with their partners. More than half the respondents complained that they had had to compete with their friend’s or partner’s device for attention and nearly 75 percent admitted getting into an argument with a friend or significant other over being on a device while together.

Give all your love…. And passwords too?

The survey reveals some startling facts about the level of sharing between couples today. Nearly 30 percent of couples share passwords of social media accounts, 28 percent share passwords of personal email accounts, and over 20 percent admitted to sharing their work specific devices and accounts with their significant other.

Oops! Oversharing is never a good thing- keep your digital life out of your real one.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are can’t keep your device away when with a friend or partner, you are not doing it right. Take my advice and make time for that special person in your life. Balance is important. It’s a good idea to practice digital detox from time to time so that you learn to balance your digital life perfectly.

A few simple tips to keep the relation a ‘safe one’:

Love your partner but don’t make their name or L-O-V-E your password: Don’t make your password an easy guess. Passwords should preferably a mix of alphabets, special characters and numbers. If that seems complicated to you, go for a trusted password manager like the True Key app by Intel Security. It will not only store all your login credential safely but also enable multi-factor authentication on your devices and online accounts. Take advantage of it.

Give your heart this Valentine’s Day but not your data: Delete unnecessary personal information from your devices. Set auto lock using PIN, and use a security tool that will allow you to remotely lock or erase data if device gets misplaced.

Practice digital detox: On your date, show you care by keeping your device away. Focus on your partner and forget your device for the time being. See how your attention gets the smiles out. Remember, no sneak peeks at your phone screen- no, not even once!

Unchain your heart but not your device: Manage and safeguard your devices with comprehensive security software solutions like McAfee LiveSafe. Remember to protect your smartphone too.

It’s Valentine’s Day! Whether you celebrate with your partner, friends or family, give them the attention they deserve. And if it’s your special one you are spending your time with, let devices not play a spoilsport.

Here’s wishing all you dear readers a rosy and happy Valentine’s Day!