The internet is now bigger than ever. During the recent Singles Day, Alibaba broke its record once again by garnering $17.79 billion as much as in revenue, surpassing its record from the previous year of $14.69 billion GMV.
In Southeast Asia alone, the e-commerce sector is slated to become a $200 billion industry by 2025. Unfortunately, as businesses are moving their focus to e-commerce, so are criminals setting up shop in efforts to gain a piece of the pie.
Though businesses and cybersecurity companies are diligently working to protect consumers regularly, we as consumers should be vigilant and protect ourselves from cybercriminals too. Here are ways you can surf in a safer manner.
While smartphones were designed to make our daily routine at work and at home more convenient, we need to make additional steps that this same level of convenience is inaccessible to unwanted individuals. While phone reviews on media usually talk about devices with the best graphics and performance, we need to remember that software and hardware security features should be something we never skimp on. To date, devices with face recognition features and fingerprint sensors are great anti-theft tools.
On top of this, cell phone security experts also highlight that we should actively ensure that our phone data is encrypted and set up for remote wipe should your device be stolen. You can’t be too safe these days when you hear news that the safest iOS devices can be hacked by experts these days with a ‘one-time fee’.
On another note, as Android and iOS software developers have developed a more secure platform for our smartphones in recent months, Android devices still lag behind in terms of security. Apple remains the leader with the iOS as they have complete control over the device’s entire ecosystem – from its hardware, firmware to its software. On the other hand, Android has no control over its ecosystem with its various hardware providers and Google’s eternal struggle to rid its Play Store of harmful apps.
As such, many are utilizing harmful Android devices without knowing it. Many are found using their Android devices without an anti-virus app. Free apps such as AVG and 360 Security provide basic but sufficient protection for your device. But be wary that some antivirus apps on Google’s Play Store are harmful, so be sure to do the necessary research to see which app best suits your needs and requirements.
SOLUTION: Purchase devices with great security features, ready your devices with remote wipe & secure your Android device with an anti-virus app
Sure, public Wi-Fis are convenient and free, but little do some of us know that every single thing we do online can be tracked. In some cases, even an HTTPS link can be compromised when you connect through an unsafe public Wi-Fi connection.
Though banks and credit card companies are constantly making their services fraud-proof, we should take the responsibility to ensure that we make transactions in the safest manner possible. It would be smart that we conduct transactions through our LTE internet connection or with hotspot via mobile to your PC rather than doing it over public Wi-Fi. An additional reminder, that you make purchases only on sites with HTTPS certification at its URL.
Not to mention a recent finding by Kaspersky Lab found that a ‘cyberespionage group’ called Darkhotel, has specifically targeted execs on the road through hotel networks. The group accomplishes this by injecting malicious code into the Web portals used by hotel guests to log in to the local network and access the internet with just a guest’s last name and room number.
The infections are known to be brief and target specific guests by prompting them to download ‘trojanized’ updates disguised as popular and secure software applications. Once installed, the software then downloads and installs information stealing programs without the user knowing it.
So, should we ban the usage of public Wi-Fi networks altogether? The answer would be no, we use VPN connections. Also known as a virtual private network, a VPN encrypts all outgoing and incoming traffic to a trusted internet gateway and masks your current IP address.
You can easily install VPN software as listed by TechRadar.com for the best free VPN software around and PCMag.com for those who prefer a quicker and ad-free service.
SOLUTION: Do not access your personal information and make online transactions over public Wi-Fi connections. If urgent, conduct transactions over mobile internet connections or surf with VPN connections on PC. Be sure to conduct transactions on sites with HTTPS certification.
Here is an easy tip: do not leave your PC unlocked when it is unattended! Most of us assume our information is safe when we leave office for lunch and leave the PC unlocked. As the office can be considered a semi-public space, we can never be too safe these days when it just takes a few minutes to install a malware. With your PCs logged in as administrators, this makes it easier for a person to install harmful software designed to avoid detection by anti-malware software.
Cultivate this habit by adding a passcode lock to your device. Once set up, on Windows you can press Windows key+L, and for Mac, press Control + Shift + Power to lock.
Another tip is to set your PCs to automatic lock when it is idle for a certain period. This is great especially for moments when you forget to lock it. In your battery management settings, set a shorter period for your PC to sleep and make it ask for a password when using your PC again.
For those who fear that a person can easily override your passcode lock and access data on your PC, it might be best to obtain laptops with built-in fingerprint or facial recognition such the new Microsoft Surface Book where your biometrics is all you need to unlock your PC.
Taking a step further, you can utilise a tangible token to unlock your device such as the GateKeeper. This device uses a USB dongle and a portable device that works as a key and a lock. Communicating via Bluetooth, your PC locks and unlocks depending on your proximity.
SOLUTION: Always lock your PC when left unattended and when possible, purchase PC with biometric security features.
Hope this helps! Any further tips I’ve missed out? Share with me in the comments below!