Over the past decade or so, the internet has seen a meteoric rise in coverage. In developed countries, nearly the entire populace now has access to a moderate speed internet connection either through broadband or mobile. In developing countries, too, access to the internet has started penetrating the poorest of towns and neighborhoods. Within this decade the entire world is likely to get a connection of some kind. The internet has had numerous benefits for people of all backgrounds, vocations, and demographics.
However, as is the case with everything good, the internet has its drawbacks as well. The internet is flush with dark alleyways and corners, with unethical actors ready to pounce on the smallest opportunity they get to dupe an unknowing user. Such actors can steal your identity, important financial details, professional work, or even your passwords, and blackmail you with the information they have procured. While it is great that you can use the internet for numerous functions, the aforementioned facts also reinforce the importance of staying wary while surfing the web.
This article will explore how the internet can act to your detriment, and how you can ensure that it doesn’t by providing an introduction on Cyber Safety.
The field that deals with staying safe on the internet is known as Cyber Safety. There are numerous reasons why you should know the meaning of Cyber Safety. First and foremost, as more and more people have been gaining access to the internet, the need for educating them about Cyber Safety has also increased. This has made Cyber Safety a budding professional avenue as well. Additionally, learning about Cyber Safety is likely to teach you several new things and change how you surf the internet.
In this writeup, after the introduction on Cyber Safety, you will learn about the different types of cyber-attacks that any person may experience. You will learn in detail about what these attacks entail, how they are caused, and how even the most careful internet users can be victims of such attacks. You will also learn about the steps you can take to save yourself from being a victim to such an attack in the future. We will also go through some general rules of ensuring Cyber Safety while you are online.
With that, let’s get started with our journey through Cyber Safety.
It can often be hard to define Cyber Safety or provide a concrete meaning of Cyber Safety. Cyber Safety is not a rigid field in its own right, but rather a collection of steps and measures. Hence, Cyber Safety can be defined as a set of measures meant to promote the safe usage of the internet and prevent exposure to internet malware, fraud, or theft.
The importance of Cyber Safety cannot be understated. Why is Cyber Safety important? It is important because it concerns anyone with even the slowest connection to the internet. Anyone can be exposed to internet fraud, and malware is present at more locations on the internet than you can imagine. Learning about Cyber Safety helps us understand how these different types of cyber attacks can impact use, and what measures can we take to defend ourselves against it. Making the entire internet user community aware of Cyber Safety measures and keeping them updated with the pitfalls and risks they are exposed to may be a constructive step to curb cyber crime.
A cyber attack is an umbrella term for many different types of attacks that can occur online. These attacks can counter your identity, your financial information, for online accounts, and much more. All things considered, the major types of cyber attacks can be divided into four broad sections.
Malware is known better by their colloquial name – computer viruses. Computer viruses and associated malware are essentially programs or files that enter your computer from a questionable or untrustworthy source, and then replicate multiple times in your computer. Depending on the type of malware, these replicated files can be harmless, cover a significant amount of space in your computer, collect your data, and send your personal information back to the source. There are multiple types of malware, such as Adware, Spyware, Trojan Horses, Email Viruses, etc.
Adware is a type of malware. A website downloads such files onto your computer that continuously intervene in your daily usage of the computer with ads of a particular brand or brands. At its worst, the adware can significantly impede your daily activities. Spyware is a type of malware in which a file that gets downloaded onto your computer can access all the tasks you perform on it. Some types of spyware can even allow a user to control your computer remotely. Trojan Horses are generally files that will disguise as another type of file and activate replication once you open them. These are among the most prevalent types of malware.
It is essential to keep your computer protected from malware. The easiest way to do so is to have antivirus software or subscription. Once you have such a subscription, it is also essential to keep your antivirus updated, since new viruses and malware are made every day. An outdated antivirus software can fail to catch new types of malware. It is also important to run your computer through a complete antivirus scan every few weeks, to weed out any viruses that might have remained undetected, and to free up space on your device.
Identity theft is a type of cyber attack that has only been growing in prevalence over the past few years. In an identity theft, someone steals your identity, pretending to either cause harm to you or steal personal information. Identity theft can occur in several different ways. Anyone who knows the password to any of your accounts can log into that account and procure personal data. This includes public PCs from which you might have forgotten to log out after you had finished working. Another frequent way of identity theft is through phishing.
In phishing, you receive an email from an unknown and questionable ID, asking you to transfer money for your account details. Phishing scams can be in the form of emails from a bank, from an individual, or a lottery company. Similar to phishing are fake emails, in which a legitimate-looking email procures from you your personal information such as government ID number, password, bank PIN, etc.
There are several ways in which you can save yourself from identity theft. Firstly, never give away your passwords to anyone, and do not use public computers for personal business or transactions. Next, never respond to any email that asks for your personal information of any kind. Look closely at the email ID from which every email you receive comes, and verify that it is legitimate. In case you are the victim of a financial fraud online, do not forget to inform your bank and the police, and block your account and cards for a while. Always take a keen look at your bank account statements for fraudulent or unauthorised transitions of any kind.
Cyberbullying refers to the usage of the internet and related sources to cause deliberate harm to people. Like the other types of cyber attack mentioned in the list above, cyberbullying can also take several forms. The most frequent form of cyberbullying is known as flaming. Flaming refers to the usage of angry and hostile language publicly on the internet. This is mostly found on social media websites and internet forums. Another form of cyberbullying is online harassment. Online harassment is much like flaming, but is generally unilateral and restricted to private messages. This entails the receipt of insulting or even threatening messages through email or private messages on social websites.
Another type of cyberbullying is denigration or dissing, in which a person is unilaterally condemned on social media by another person or group of persons. Impersonation is a type of cyberbullying in which one person pretends to be another. This is different from identity theft since the other person does not break into your account, but rather makes another account in your name. Outing and trickery are forms of cyberbullying in which someone publicly reveals private information, images, or messages you had trusted them with.
Tolerance to cyberbullying has decreased significantly over the past few years, and several countries have laws against it now. This makes it all the more important to report any instances of cyberbullying you witness or go through. Teenagers are generally targets of cyberbullying, but anyone can be a victim. Cyberbullying can have a detrimental impact on the victim’s mental health and must not be taken lightly.
Plagiarism is a widely acknowledged concept, but not many know that it also comes under a cyber threat category. Plagiarism occurs when someone takes your work and then misappropriates it as their own. At the same time, anyone can be prone to committing an act of plagiarism. This is because a significant majority of people are never taught the value of citing someone else’s work when you use it. We tend to take the internet as a free resource and believe that all information on the internet can be used freely. It is not so. If the purpose you are using someone else’s work is not internal or private, it is always wise to cite your source.
Laws against plagiarism have grown extremely stringent now. Even internal regulations in companies and firms are intolerant to plagiarism, and any form of plagiarism can lead to anything from an expulsion to a fine. If you are accused of plagiarism, you can be a party to a lawsuit, costing a large amount of time and money.
Cyber Safety is not just an important concept to learn, but also very important to educate others about. Staying safe and careful on the internet is important since it is the one place after our homes that we spend the greatest amount of time. The above mentioned cyber threats and ways of averting them must always be taken into consideration. Be it a malware, or identity theft, an instance of cyber bullying or plagiarism, cyber crimes can potentially ruin your professional image and interfere with the peace of your mind. So pay heed to all the Cyber Safety measures, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.