A simple internet search for the best Hyderabadi Biryani restaurant in our neighbourhood might leave internet users open to a world of social engineering scams. We have become increasingly vulnerable post COVID as a result of increased internet use and interaction with (a) insecure networks (b) excessive personal and shared devices (c) insecure applications (d) virtual meetings that we frequently access in our daily lives.
Privacy invasions occur frequently while browsing, even when the user is unaware, and all browsers collect data in form of (a) crash reporters (b) analytics (c) profiling (d) identification (e) ads (f) location. Our browsing activity is tracked via cookies, and data is shared across websites under the pretext of user convenience.
It is important to be aware that we are always tracked online and it should be our priority to practise safe browsing habits based on your desired level of privacy. i.e., (a) Websites like Amazon, eBay, and Netflix collect data about your preferences and provides suggestions to us what think we might like. (b) Google and Facebook tracks and shares activity to provide usage data across the applications. https://myactivity.google.com & https://www.facebook.com/off_facebook_activity
Safe browsers help stop third-party tools, like cookies. They collect all your private/personal information and other tracking data. Some of the safe browsers, in order, are Brave, Duck Duck Go, Tor, Mozilla, and Chrome. These safe browsers (a) warn you about sites and downloads that are unsafe. (b) Allow you to choose which permissions to grant.(c) enabling you to disable cookies. (d) Disabling popups by default. (e) Disabling redirects by default (f) Allow you to turn off scripts.(g) Provide you with access to your browsing history and cache.
Better searching on Google:
- Using Quotes – When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells google to search for the whole phrase. Your search syntax should be, “Digital Wellbeing”
- Use a hyphen to exclude words – Example you are likely to search for Maruti Temple and enter Maruti, by default it will be showing Maruti Car. To avoid this your search syntax should be, Maruti –Temple.
- Use a colon to search – You logged in to www.endnowfoundation.org and are looking for an article on cyber safety, your search syntax should be, cyber safety site:endnowfoundaton.org
- Find a page that links to another page – Instead of searching for a specific page, you’re searching for a page that links to a specific page. You search syntax should be link:endnowfoundation.org
- Find sites that are like other sites – There is a better way to search for related sites and your search syntax should be, related:endnowfoundation.org
- Use Google search to do math – This is handy if you need to do some quick math and your search syntax should be, 8*5+9+8 Etc
- Find a specific file – If you are tying for cyber safety presentation, the search syntax should be cybersafetyfiletype:pptx
- Money and unit conversions – Checking to see the conversion rate between two currencies. Your search syntax should be, USD to INR
Tips for safer browsing:
- Never click on short URL’s or fill google forms (Sent via emails. WhatsApp and SMS) even if it is sent by known source also, ensure you check if it’s a phishing link https://www.isitphishing.org
- Never send sensitive and personal information via email, regardless of whom so ever is asking for it.
- Always check the header of the email for authenticity when somebody asks to transfer money on an email, even if it is from your boss also. https://mxtoolbox.com/EmailHeaders.aspx
- Never search for customer care numbers Google, Call the numbers specified on the respective portals
- Never Scan QR Code or give OTP, UPIN, Bank Card and CVV number’s, i.e., Means you are transferring the money from your account and NOT receiving.
- Set up two-factor authentication for all emails and social media accounts.
- Keep your browser updated and access only secured websites starting with https://
- You may use Incognito mode to shop online for a birthday gift for a family member who shares your device, so that none of your activity will appear browsing activity.
- Compartmentalize your browsers. i.e., Use one browser solely for web browsing and another for banking and another for social accounts and accordingly change privacy settings to ensure the cookies are turned off and that the browser is not storing your browsing history.
- Always remember to log out of social media and email accounts when you are not using them, even if it’s your own device.
- Use antivirus and anti-malware software for a secure browsing experience.
- Using virtual private networks (VPNs) helps secure your data against hackers and social engineering scammers.