Cyber security is critical to individual safety

Salalah:The COVID-19 has given a situation in which people have to be fully dependent on online platforms, at the same time they have to be extra cautious to keep safe from the unseen criminals called hackers or spammers.

Perform or perish is the need of the hour where any lax attitude may be detrimental. The situation requires a certain degree of awareness in every individual who is exposed to any cyber activity.

Dr R Venkateswaran, an expert in networking and information security, agrees with the current situation and calls for a greater sense of self-awareness to be safe while exposed to the vast world of the Internet.

In an interview with the Observer, he said, “We should understand that we are now living in a generation where privacy has become a thing of the past. By using the services internet applications, you already have decided to give up your privacy. The irony of the situation is, we do not have any choice, and these apps are part of our day-to-day business and personal communication,” he said.

He puts stress on self-awareness and basic level expertise to be able to differentiate between good and bad applications (Apps) in terms of security and safety.

“Based on reliable and current data, national cybersecurity concerns should be dealt with by the government to protect its people. But, as a mobile user, we should be aware that our privacy is not private anymore. We should be alert,” he said.

This is scary to read the privacy policy of popular mobile Apps, as they seek all sorts of information as a matter of security. “All belong to the same league, it seems.”

“No denying the fact that most of the companies analyse the data to understand and meet their customers’ needs and demands. They also use these data to improve their services and goods to be at par on the digital or business competition.”

In this time of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industries and academe are transitioning from brick-and-mortar to online platforms. Setting up and managing business and academe through online is not complicated. “Just get the appropriate training, equipment, and Apps. But, be aware and knowledgeable about the proliferation of online security threats, such as but not limited to: phishing, fake website, fake calls, spam emails, ransomware attack, and Wi-Fi spoofing.”

Being an IT expert, he suggests that data security should be integrated while being online. “Always secure the mainstream device by installing anti-virus. Be aware of every App that you install, download Apps from

trusted online stores. Do not register your credit and debit card details on any unknown websites. Do not click links to unknown websites. Avoid spam mail checking and response. Be aware and vigilant of fake calls and responses. Always try to use two factors authentication. Disable Siri option on a smart phone if not needed. Always check the camera and microphone permission while using the App. At home, switch off Wi-Fi networks that are not in use and make sure strong security settings are configured to prevent unauthorised Wi-Fi access,” he said.

Dr Venkateswaran has a long list of advice. For the industry sector, he suggests the mobile security policies should be available and strictly followed by all employees. Strong firewalls should be installed. Secure the phones connected to a private server by using a VPN, and regularly update all computers’ anti-virus and firewall configuration.

“By implementing this advice, you will be able to significantly reduce the cyber-attacks. But always remember, security for today is not the same with the security for tomorrow. Always read and update your knowledge. Be safe,” he advised.