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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Reasons Why True Key Is Our Knight in Shining Armor

Has it ever happened to you that you tried to log into an account only to find that you seem to be experiencing temporary amnesia and can’t recall what the username or password is? Or you need to pay your child’s school fees online but can’t find the diary where you wrote down the login details?

The connected era has brought the world literally into your hands- you can do so much online- but there is this one hassle – You have to remember all the passwords and keep them secret.

My friend Anita faced a ‘password-block’ the other day when she tried to pay her electricity bill online at the last minute. For the life of her she could not remember the password! She tried out several options, until the site locked her out for exceeding the maximum number of attempts.

You know the feeling and shudder at the thought of it happening again, hmm? Not to worry, here is your own knight in shining armor to the rescue, True Key by Intel Security.

Bid adieu to remembering different passwords for different sites. Relax, smile, hum a song if you want while you sign into your accounts – you have your very own password manager to handle the hassles. The True Key™ app not only offers you an easy and safe way to unlock your digital world, it also enhances your security. With this you will not be required to maintain a written record of your passwords which is not safe at all and guess what, you also don’t have to stay signed in all the time (which makes your accounts so vulnerable)!

If you are like my friend Anita, who does all her shopping, bill payments and socializing online, you would love to have to have the True Key app. And I will tell you why.

Here are the top 5 reasons why True Key is your knight in shining armor:

  • Easy to install and sign in
  • Remembers all your login info like usernames and passwords
  • Uses multi-factor authentication to help you securely log into your online accounts using your face, finger print or a trusted device
  • Offers total privacy as it does not share your passwords with anyone else

Signing in to True Key is as easy A-B-C

Without further ado, let me show you how to install and use the app. Download the True Key app. Get it free here.

Done? OK, next let’s use multi-factor authentication to secure your accounts.

Multi-factor authentication adds extra layers of security to your accounts

Choose the factors you want to sign in to your account (see below). True Key uses at least two factors to confirm it’s you. That’s called multi-factor authentication and it makes your login that much more secure. You can make your profile more secure by adding in more factors, like a second device or e-mail address. It’s entirely up to you. The picture below shows you how it will happen.

truekey

I can almost hear you thinking, “Well! that was quite easy! But I have several accounts. Will the app help me with them all?

True Key remembers all your login sites and their passwords

You will only have to select the account you want to access. And what’s more, you can sync True Key across all your devices and access your accounts from anywhere and any device of yours. Like this: –

4

Keeps your passwords secure

Not only does True Key offer you layered protection, it also secures your passwords by scrambling them with one of the strongest encryption algorithms available, AES-256. Only you can decrypt and access your information with the factors you choose. That’s a relief, huh?

Manages multiple accounts

Each time you land on a login page and type in the particulars, the True Key app automatically saves it. You can also add details on the app directly by clicking on the ‘add new login’ button. It doesn’t matter how many accounts you have, the True Key app will remember them all for you.

If you would like to know more about how to install the app on your device, watch the video tutorial.

The True Key app is no ordinary app, it is the master key to your virtual vault- wherein it keeps all your login details safely. With the True Key app you can rest knowing that all of your passwords are securely stored, and not have to worry about remembering or writing down your passwords. The app makes your online life safer, faster and smoother. So, what are you waiting for? Just download it and follow the guidelines that pop up and forget login hassles forever.

I bet you just breathed a sigh of relief. Now you can confidently handle all your virtual accounts- the True Key app will deftly deal with the entire entry process.

Don’t forget to share with us your experiences once you get your knight in shining armor working for you

 

Manage your data this Data Privacy Day

You know when Valentine’s Day is, and on which day Friendship Day falls, but do you know the day in which we celebrate Data Privacy Day?

If your reply is, “Huh? What’s that?” don’t worry, you are not alone. There are many others who don’t have a clear picture about this.

What is Data Privacy Day?

As we move towards a connected future, we are generating a vast amount of data online. It could range from our personal details to our bank account details and even our likes and dislikes. With so much information available about us in the virtual world, can you imagine what a field day cyber criminals would have if they could gain access to it?

January 28th is celebrated as Data Privacy Day, to create public awareness about the need for keeping data private as well as to empower them on data protection best practices.

To give you an example, post an online search, say for a weekend destination or even a new car, you might have noted similar ads springing up on your page long after you have stopped searching for them. Which means a third party has got hold of your likes and is directing similar ads your way. Or, when you download an app on your mobile, you will find that it may ask for access to your gallery, clock and even contact lists. Websites send cookies embedded in their codes to help you, but these also store the information you share. You have no way of knowing how this information is being used.

Data Privacy Day is celebrated to help consumers:

  1. Manage their digital footprint
  2. Encourage safe online practices
  3. Raise awareness and educate about the need for data privacy.

Some of the threats associated with privacy breach:

  • Identity theft: Cyber criminals may be able to collect enough data about you to create a false profile that maybe misused
  • Financial loss: If your password and secret questions become accessible to others or if your smartphone falls in the wrong hands, hackers may be able to clear out your account
  • Cyberbullying: Sharing of inappropriate or embarrassing photos and videos may attract online bullies
  • Social media hacking: If your social media account is hacked, it can harm your personal life and reputation.
  • Ransomware: Cyber criminals may hold your data or device hostage to extort monetary benefits

To empower yourself to take charge of your privacy this Data Privacy Day, you need to:

  • Secure your devices: This is the first thing you should do with a new device and ensure you keep auto updates turned on
  • Be wary of apps that ask for a lot of permissions: A stop watch has no need for your contact list, nor an editing app for your social media profiles. Share with care. Also, delete apps you do not use anymore.
  • Beware of fake sites, fake offers and fake wins: These are phishing attacks, targeted at getting your data. Keep in mind (1) if you didn’t take part in a contest, you can’t win it (2) There is no such thing as easy money.
  • Manage your digital footprints: Give your generosity a check when it comes to data. Do not share phone number, address, school/work location in your profile description. Also, clean your social media profiles from time to time – remove pics and posts that reveal a lot about you.
  • Stay clear of fake sites by using McAfee WebAdvisor: This amazing tool guides you on website safety and warns you if a site looks suspicious. A great help that protects you from probable phishing and other attacks.

In an increasingly interconnected world, our personal data is a prized possession for many and they make constant attempts to collect it from us. We need to be vigilant of the approvals we grant devices/apps and give them sparingly. Privacy and safety go hand in hand, let us pledge to take charge and follow best practices to keep us and our families safe this Data Privacy Day.

 

 

Digital Wallets: Safety tips from an industry leader

Digital Wallets: Safety tips from an industry leader

As digitization gains traction and we move towards a cashless economy, it will be of great help to know how to carry out online transactions securely. Many of us are digital immigrants and hesitate at the thought of using e-wallets. Will it be easy and will our money be safe? – We ask ourselves and others.

Security awareness is necessary for:

(a) To calm the possible misconceptions surrounding digital payments

(b) To ensure safety of your transactions online

Just like there are some basic rules you follow to protect your cash/ cheque payments, similarly a few basic precautions will go a long way in making all our e-payments safe. I had the privilege of a conversation with Anand Ramamoorthy, Managing Director- South Asia, Intel Security. Anand shared his views and tips on e-payment security. Read on!

As we are moving to an era where mobile is fast displacing the PC as the primary device, can you educate regarding the web of threats out there?  

According to Intel Security Threat Predictions 2017 Report, McAfee Labs sees mobile malware continuing its growth in 2017, with ransomware, banking Trojans, and remote access tools among the leading threats. The report clearly showcases the need for security against a growing volume of mobile malware and expanding threat surface which becomes critical in a mobile first economy like India. Users should remember that their security depends a lot on their actions. Awareness of safe practices and security risks go a long way in making digital payments a smooth affair. For instance, before making a transaction, confirm that your security software is up to date and running.

 

Tip: Use secured networks only and create strong passwords, remembering to have different passwords for different sites. Look out for the ‘https’ at the start of an URL and green padlock sign and check domain name of the URL. It should be like “xyz.com” or “xyz.in” and not “xyz/festivals-in.com” ‘

With a mobile first economy and the rise of e-wallets, how should users approach security?

 

Already a mobile first economy, India has the second largest internet savvy population and is expected to overtake the US as the second largest smartphone market in 2017. As we move towards a cashless economy, consumers are realizing that in addition to their PCs, smartphones too need to be actively protected from the expanding threat landscape to enhance their connected experiences.

As one of the leading players in cybersecurity, we have had the opportunity to work with several large enterprises, banks and even Fortune 500 companies and we believe that with digitization, arises the need to secure one’s digital footprint and assets. We at Intel Security are committed to providing a safe and secure digital environment to all our customers. Securing our connected devices is important considering that many employees also use personal devices in the workspace and any lapse in security can result in loss of confidential business data or even reputation. Today, owing to the level of our online existence which spans from social media to using e-wallets for most of our transactions, calls for a trusted mobile security software. At Intel Security , we offer McAfee mobile security software for free from the Play store/App store.

Tip: Just like you would be careful about opening your doors to a stranger, similarly, be careful if you use public Wi-Fi network at the airport, coffee shops and other venues, or even the guest login provided for your hotel room.

How can Indians stay safe online?

To keep yourself safe online, one must think of device security in the same manner as one’s physical asset. Will you leave the house without locking it? No, right! Similarly, consumers should keep the following things in mind to keep their data and devices safe in the digital world. Here are some handy tips.

a)  Use secured connections only

It goes without saying that your security is as strong as your device and internet security. Go only for advanced comprehensive security software for your PCs and smartphones. Carry out financial transactions over VPN networks and be wary of public Wi-Fi

b) Download digital wallets directly from official websites 

Do not click on links received via e-mails or messages. They may contain malware or could lead to compromised websites. Instead download from official websites of your bank or from the App Store or Play Store

c) Uncheck the ‘save card’ box

This is a security measure that will help protect your bank account details if your account, or the site, gets compromised 

d) Use multi-factor authentication

 

Use a password management tool, like True Key by Intel Security, to help you store and create complex passwords, and enable multi-factor authentication on your devices and online accounts.

e) Beware of Phishing scams 

This is a major ploy used to dupe users to part with their credentials. Armed with credentials and bank/e-wallet account details, cyber criminals can dupe you. Avoid replying to e-mails from strangers and opening attachments or links without prior verification. Be mindful of what you share online and never divulge your bank or personal details to tele callers purportedly from your bank.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Smartphones have ushered in an unprecedented era of connectivity by offering users access to a world of information, education, employment and even m-commerce. Around 139 million smartphones were sold in India in 2016 and this makes it a priority market for cybercriminals who want to benefit from exploiting the sensitive data of unsuspecting consumers. With the magnitude of online transactions happening today, app explosion, coupled with public Wi-Fi hacks and social engineering based phishing attacks, mobile security has become a primary requirement. We need to give security top priority and not treat it like an afterthought. A mobile security app should be one of the first apps we install after purchasing a device. People do not have to be the weakest link in the security chain. They can be the strongest link if we impart better education on how people can safely use technology. At Intel Security we are committed to ensuring a safe digital experience for all.

There! You heard it from the world’s largest dedicated security firm. Now let’s make it a point to share the word about how we can make mobile transactions safer through a few tips and awareness.

In 2017, let’s make a resolution to stay safe online!

What you need to know about security threats in 2017

2016 has been an exciting year on the tech front, with our hearts being won over by technology ranging from driverless cars, advanced gaming consoles to AI- to name a few. And 2017 promises to be even more bountiful for all gadget lovers, considering the tech grapevine is rife with news of foldable phones and laptops, sophisticated VR headsets and super smart home appliances.

Aren’t your fingers just itching to open your favorite online shopping sites and checking out these new devices? I know that feeling for I have already decided what I want for my birthday next year (Unless of course a phone-controlled Vacuum Cleaner makes an appearance). And not just devices, there are hundreds of new apps that make our daily life less mundane and our social networking and entertainment so much more exciting! I so look forward to trying out these apps, don’t you?

Increased internet penetration means more internet-enabled gadgets, all of which will need protection. With this rapid rate of acceptance across cities and towns, cyber threats will be able to spread closer to millions of end-users.

The virtual world scenario is changing and so is the threat scenario, as highlighted in the Intel Security McAfee Labs 2017 Threats Predictions Report. While the report offers details on the threat scenario, industry response and new challenges, we will consider some salient points briefly, in keeping with our constant endeavor as parents to stay updated on the security issues:

  • Ransomware is predicted to increase until mid-2017 before beginning to recede
  • Rise in the volume of ‘fakes’- including fake security warnings, fake likes, fake ads, fake reviews
  • Machine learning will be used to deliver more sophisticated socially engineering attacks
  • Mobile attacks will combine mobile device locks with credential thefts, allowing cyber thieves to attain bank and credit card details
  • Rise in adware, with hackers delivering malware using the new techniques used by advertisers
  • The rise in trust in Cloud storage will direct the interest of cyber attackers towards it
  • Hijacking events, like drone-jacking, DDoS attacks or exploitation of IoT (Internet of Things) devices is likely to rise.

Here is how you can keep your device and data safe:

  1. Create strong and unique passwords: This is THE most important step for you to take to protect your data online. Use a mix of letters, numbers and special characters to create passwords and have different passwords for social media, Cloud and financial accounts. The most hassle-free and safe way to do this is to use an authentic password manager, like True Key by Intel Security.
  2. Use Multi-factor authentication: Whether it be your Gmail account or Facebook, bank account or PayPal, ALWAYS opt for multi-factor authentication to add another layer of security for your accounts.
  3. Lock down your devices and Wi-Fi router: Use PIN, password or biometrics (wherever applicable). Also, set up an auto-lock feature
  4. Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use
  5. Scan USB devices before use to remove malware, if any. Don’t skip this step
  6. Be skeptical about what you see online: Do not be swayed by likes and positive reviews for apps or websites, for these can be bought. Consult genuine websites to get the true picture
  7. Review IoT device security prior to purchase
  8. Limit data you share online: Be very protective when it comes to your personal information. The less of it is there online, the better for you
  9. Click on attachments, videos, or URLs ONLY AFTER verifying authenticity
  10. Always use reputable comprehensive security software for all internet-enabled devices to ensure you have 24/7 protection.

Remember, the user is usually the weakest link in the security chain. Practicing caution can go a long way in ensuring your safety online. Awareness and vigilance will help you enjoy the gifts of tech to the fullest.

Happy New Year friends! While we turn the page to a year where technology will yet again be in the headlines, remember to take the right steps towards securing your digital life.

Gift Your Kids The Know-How To Maintain A Healthy Digital Reputation

The Digital India initiative by the Government of India is aimed at ushering in a digitally empowered society. One of the core components of Digital India is bringing about digital literacy, the ability to use digital devices and interact in social networks, while adhering to online behavioral norms.

In this context, our next generation needs to learn a very important concept, that of digital footprints, and how to maintain a healthy digital reputation.

We all know digital footprints ensures what we say online will always remain online but what constitutes digital reputation? It is made up of everything that a person shares about themselves and others online -both written and pictorial that helps others cyber citizens to form an opinion about him/her. Given that both digital footprint and digital reputation have long term consequences, it is important for you to advise your children that their digital reputation depends on THEM.

They are creating the content that is on their social media pages. Their posts, comments, responses, photos and videos create a digital image of them that may or may not be desirable. They are therefore responsible for the way the cyber citizens perceive them.

Does digital reputation matter? Oh yes, it certainly does. In the increasingly interconnected world, people across the globe might never really get to meet you in person and discover for themselves your real nature. So, they tend to seek information about you online – be it for jobs, college admission or even for signing up on a hiking group. Why not take a critical look at all your social media accounts and see for yourself as others see you online and decide, do you like all that you see?

A few things that tweens and teens usually do that may affect their digital reputation:

  • Follow their peer: often leads to sharing of false content, embarrassing videos or photos or even cyberbullying of a hapless victim
  • Push boundaries: Curiosity drives them to veer to unexplored sites and/or check out inappropriate content, and even share the same with friends. If they become a victim of spam, this fact will be shared with all social media friends
  • Search for free content: The kids want to download posters, movies, songs or games for free and thus stand the risk of falling prey to malware attacks
  • Trust easily: This is why online predators find it easy to impress youngsters and earn their trust
  • Give privacy a short-shrift: Kids brashly disregard security messages, thinking they are savvy enough to keep off risky sites. But cyber criminals are way cleverer than them and hence find it easy to compromise their accounts and misuse them.

And lastly apart from being conscious of the above, the one cyber safety skill we need to remind our kids is: to STOP. THINK. SHARE. online

Cyber Parenting – Let’s Hear What Mothers Have to Say

Children’s Day is around the corner and it has me thinking. With all the brouhaha over a connected future and devices that can monitor, make decisions and communicate; are we doing enough to prepare our children to stay safe online? Are we, the digital immigrants, cyber-mentoring the next generation?

Parents today have a tough job bringing up kids in a high-tech environment that is not native to them. And for the safety of their kids in the virtual world, parents themselves have to learn and understand the good and the bad of the internet and be aware of the threat landscape.

The next step is to raise their children as responsible cyber citizens and the earlier they start the better it is and all said and done, parents are the BEST teachers for their kids

As Intel Security Cybermum India, I thought it was time to find out if parents were on the right path to teach their kids cybersafety, so I approached some of my mom friends on Twitter with targeted questions listed below. I hope it resonates with you if you are looking at taking the first step to raising responsible cyber citizens

Q- At what age did your child start using the net? Did you have a cybersafety talk at that time or before that?

Most kids do not have a defined time when they first go online, so moms found them too young to discuss cybersafety. However, the new breed of young mothers seem to be prepared to handle it when the time comes.

As Banker Mom, Shruti Mahajan Singh says, “My child is still young but I would be talking to her soon about cybersafety, cyberbullying, cyber love chats etc. and how not to get affected by them.”

Yojna Sharma, a social media consultant and blogger, says her child was exposed to the internet at the age of 2, when he watched nursery rhyme videos under his mother’s supervision. She explains, “Going forward I plan to regulate his usage for a max of half hour per day. I plan to have a chat with him probably when he is 4-5 and can understand things better but I have started exploring options on net safety like firewall etc.”

Q – What are the top internet usage rules at home that your kids have to follow?

Blogger Mom – Neha Jain has these rules for her kids:

  1. No social media presence until you turn 13
  2. No sharing of personal information
  3. No online interaction with strangers
  4. Stipulated time to go online
  5. Access the internet in communal space only
  6. Do not hide if someone tries to bully or makes you comfortable in any manner
  7. No downloading or installing any software without parents’ consent

Neha, you have covered almost everything. Great work!

Q – According to the 2015 Teen Tween Technology Report by Intel Security, 48% of the parents surveyed believe that the worst thing that could happen to their children is interacting with strangers online. What’s your take on this? Do you monitor your child’s online activities and keep tabs on online friends?

(A major threat online is that it brings the outside world right into your home! Your child can be approached by a stranger without your knowledge, something you would never allow in the real world. So how do moms handle this?)

Army wife and mom Jyothi Menon monitors her son online. She also follows basic safety rules like using security tools and keeping the laptop in a common area. She adds, “We have had a discussion about pedophiles and how they use false identity to lure unsuspecting children. He uses my mobile to WhatsApp his friends and is not on Facebook or Instagram yet.”

Q – Almost half the children surveyed last year said they have bullied people over social media. Do you feel there is a rise in cyberbullying? What should parents do to contain this trend?

Singer, traveler, InfoSec girl Parul Jain agrees. “They (parents) should interact with their children about their friends. And keep track of day-to-day activities. Also (parents should) tell them about cyberbullying. Most of the time parents are not comfortable to talk about these topics.”

Agreed. Parents need to break the communication barrier and discuss cyberbullying, stalking, abuse, morphing etc. with growing kids so that they can identify such behavior, know what to do, seek parental guidance and not get depressed.

Q – Please share what you feel is THE biggest threat online and THE most important cybersafety step that all parents should follow.

Blogger and Stay at Home Mom, Madhu believes that the biggest threat online is “ease of access to any content and related fields that show up in search!” while family lifestyle blogger, Richa Choudhary thinks it is ‘is getting influenced by someone on social media or get trolled.’- and both are right!

Madhu shares several cyber safety measures but ranks setting up parental controls as Number One on priority list. I particularly like the fact that she stresses on frank and continuous discussions with kids and the need for teaching them digital disconnect for a proper digitally balanced life.

Richa has the very same idea when she advocates “limiting app downloads, restrict inappropriate websites from opening; basically, closely monitoring your kids web usage.”

Thank you so much for your inputs ladies! I genuinely appreciate your approach to ensuring cyber safety by applying the right mix of monitoring, mentoring and communication. It’s heartening that parents are giving cyber safety its due importance and handling it rationally, helping to create ideal digital citizens who can handle the connected future of tomorrow.

Happy parenting!

Sonakshi Sinha tops the list of McAfee Most Sensational Celebrities 2016

Celebrities bedazzle and bewitch us and we cannot have enough of them. Whether they be actors, singers, models, comedians or sportspersons, we want to know the latest about them – their lives, performances, fashion – everything. And the best place to get all these information? The internet. We frequently go online to read up on them, download the latest movie or song or check out their public appearances.

And that’s what the cyber criminals capitalize on – they understand the yearning for having celebrity information on the go and make use of it to introduce malware into the user’s devices.

The 10th global edition of the study titled McAfee Most Sensational Celebrities 2016 by Intel Security reveals the Top 10 Bollywood celebrities with the highest risk percentages:

Position Celebrity Percentage
1 Sonakshi Sinha 11.11%
2 Farhan Akhtar 9.56%
3 Kareena Kapoor 8.67%
4

 

Tiger Shroff 8.44%

 

Arjun Kapoor
5 Shraddha Kapoor 8.11%
6 Kriti Sanon 7.67%
7

 

Priyanka Chopra 7.56%

 

Shahid Kapoor
8 Bipasha Basu 7.22%
9 Saif Ali Khan 7.11%
10 Alia Bhatt 7.00%

Actress and rapper Sonakshi Sinha tops the list of McAfee Most Sensational Celebrities 2016, continuing the rule of the femme fatales as sensational Indian celebs. She replaces Priyanka Chopra, who slid to the 7th rank. This year, Gen Y movie celebrities have made their presence felt in the Top 10. So while Farhan Akhtar takes the second place and Kareena Kapoor the third; young guns Tiger Shroff and Arjun Kapoor are tied at No. 4 and Shraddha Kapoor occupies the 5th spot.

To clarify, “sensational” has nothing to do with the celebrities themselves, but their popularity as search subjects. s users search the net for celebrity news like awards ceremonies, movie trailers, free wallpapers or celeb gossip, they risk their device and data security. Along with downloading wallpapers or a hit movie or any other online search for celeb information, they unknowingly increase risk and download malware or share personally identifiable details with hackers.

Intel Security conducted the study using the free tool McAfee® WebAdvisor site ratings to determine the number of risky sites generated by searches. For example, if you search for Sonakshi Sinha + Torrent or Kareena Kapoor + Free MP4, you will get a list of results, which are categorized as safe and risky, with green, yellow and red demarcations by McAfee® WebAdvisor. If you click on sites deemed unsafe or risky and download files including photos and videos, you run the risk of encountering something malicious.

So we know the danger, what do we do to stay safe online? Here are a few basic Cybersafety rules

  • Install branded, cross-device comprehensive security software – Keep all your devices, including smartphones and tabs safe with just the one security software. The security software will identify and eliminate the latest threats and keep you safe
  • Use McAfee® WebAdvisor software: Browse safely using WebAdvisor, which will help you identify safe websites. Download it FREE at mcafee.com/mcafeewebadvisor
  • Secure Personal Data: Cyber criminals will try to lure you to their traps through scams like phishing or by offering free wallpapers and movies. Learn not to trust unverified free offers or sites that ask you to share email AND password AND date of birth etc. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it perhaps is
  • THINK. CLICK: Never be in a hurry to click. You want to see trailers of your matinee idol’s latest movie or download music? Then go to the original source only. Avoid sites that are not verified safe by a web advisor tool
  • Stay legit: Stay clear of torrents and opt for legitimate sites, even if they are paid ones.

So next time you want to find out the latest news on your favourite celeb, first ensure that your devices have been secured with a trusted and comprehensive security software and don’t forget to download the free McAfee WebAdvisor tool. Also, stick to ONLY those sites that are marked green. Awareness begins with education.

Stay Safe Stay Online!