Mitigating cyber risks by taking adequate caution and cover is the need of the hour

by Sasikumar Adidamu

We live in an era of hyper-connectivity. The various devices and applications used in our homes or at workplaces have now become so integrated that it's hard to keep them separate. In a matter of seconds, a user with Internet connection can download, transmit and transact information that can be shared across devices.

However, there is a flip side to this too. Not too long ago the biggest risk was protecting the cash in the wallet or having your pocket picked. Today we live in a perpetual fear that our banking details and data stored online could be stolen, hacked, damaged or erased. The biggest nightmare that an individual can wake up to is to see an unauthorised debit in his bank account and realise that he is a victim of an online fraud. Armed with cyber weapons, it's easy for digital criminals to rob unsuspecting online consumers via spoof SMS, phishing links, fake IDs, forged online identities - their ways are new and many.

Moreover, with the sudden spread of virulent cyber attacks such as WannaCry and Petya, India has emerged as the third most vulnerable country in terms of risks of cyber threats, such as malware, spam and ransomware, according to a report by global security firm Symantec. It is estimated that the WannaCry attack affected around 48,000 systems throughout the country, serving as a major wake-up call for all of us on the increasing danger posed by cyber crimes.

According to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the number of Internet users in India stood at 481 million in December 2017 and is expected to reach 500 million by June 2018.

One result of the increased use of technology is that it has opened up organisations and individual users to advanced cyber risks that they are often poorly prepared to defend against. And now, with the sharing of devices, information and networks, these risks have compounded. A majority of banking transactions today are conducted online. A lot of personal information is also available online and on social media which can be used by hackers.

The result is that cyber criminals are working overtime to develop, hack and deliver new persistent attacks to target vulnerable systems. Therefore, if organisations and individuals want to protect their networks and data from the onslaught of attacks, it is essential that they begin to have proper security strategies in place.

So, as employers and individuals navigate the rapidly evolving cyber risk landscape, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind.

Deploy Security Tools

When connecting to or storing sensitive data in personal devices or applications or on your network, it is important that you have security tools in place to detect and deter malware and cyber criminals. For home networks, this often means using a firewall and encryption.

Maintain an active and strong anti-virus in the computer system to detect any irregularity. A firewall ensures that malicious traffic from compromised devices, applications or websites that try to enter your network are detected and stopped.