Cybercrime is a crime that takes place online. Cybercriminals often commit crimes by targeting computer networks or devices.
The Bengaluru Police has reported that out of 20,000 FIRs registered between January 2019 and June 2019, a staggering 25% have been related to Cyber Crimes. Such crimes include Online Impersonation, Banking & Financial Frauds, Ransomware, Hacking, Pornography, Phishing, Virus Attacks and Identity Theft.
Not only the number of Cyber Crimes are rising alarmingly, but now the target includes high-profile personalities and public figures. Recently, we saw former Chief Justice of India, R. M. Lodha being duped of Rs. 1 lakh on the night of May 19, 2019, by an Identity-thief. The fraudster using the hacked email id of Chief Justice’s former colleague sent an email seeking Rs. 1 lakh to be deposited into his account.
The Retd Chief Justice, thinking it that he is helping his former colleague, deposited the amount into the designated bank account being controlled by the fraudster. When the Chief Justice of India can be duped so easily imagine the plight of common citizens, who are neither equipped with techniques nor have enough knowledge about the ways to prevent themselves.
There are several tested strategies that you should adapt to save yourself from Cyber Criminals. Here are 5 top that you may try.
Use strong passwords
Don’t repeat your passwords on different sites, and change your passwords regularly. Make them complex. That means using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. A password management application can help you to keep your passwords locked down.
Keep Your Anti-Virus/ Operating System Updated
Use update and genuine version of anti-virus. The software publishers will warn you in case the malware or ransomware threat are continuously originating from the same IP address. The anti-viruses are smart these days and even warn you if you are passing any credit card information, accidentally, to anyone.
Avoid downloading unknown applications, or clicking on unknown links that come through Emails
The Internet is full of free software from unknown sources. These kinds of programs normally carry malicious applications with it and installing it may infect and cause serious damage to your computer. Do not do any e-commerce activity on sites that do have ‘https’ visible in URL.
Manage your social media settings
Keep your personal and private information locked down. Social engineering cybercriminals can often get your personal information with just a few data points, so the less you share publicly, the better. For instance, if you post your pet’s name or reveal your mother’s maiden name, you might expose the answers to two common security questions.
Take measures to help protect yourself against identity theft
Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains your personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. You might be tricked into giving personal information over the internet, for instance, or a thief might steal your mail to access account information. That’s why it’s important to guard your personal data. Also, it is important to protect your identity even when travelling, especially logging in from public networks or keeping your Bluetooth in ON mode.
If you believe that you’ve become a victim of a cybercrime, you need to alert the local police immediately. We also have Cyber Cells in all major cities in India that accept all kinds of complaints relating to Cyber Crimes. Most of the Cyber Crime Cells have provisions to file online FIRs too. The Government of India has recently started a new portal called Cybercrime Reporting Portal (https://cybercrime.gov.in/) that is focused on Cyber Crimes being committed against Women and Children.
(The Author is an advocate in Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court. He argues matters related to Corporate, IPR, Civil, Criminal and Public Interest.)