#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Beware Coronavirus-themed cyber-attacks, urges McAfee

McAfee’s ‘2021 Consumer Security Mindset Survey’ reveals much of 2020 saw an average of 648 new cyber-threats per minute. Plus, some security tips for all netizens:

Be honest. When was the last time you visited a dodgy streaming site to watch the latest film or series? Or opened an email that looked a bit suspicious? Owing to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Indian households have become more digitally-connected with more Internet-bound devices such as laptops, tablets, smart-home gadgets and, of course, smartphones.

Having observed this, security conglomerate McAfee released the ‘2021 Consumer Security Mindset Survey’ on June 2, revealing how Indians are adapting to these rapid, tech-enabled changes while also becoming increasingly aware of what their digital footprint comprises.

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McAfee and a number of other cybersecurity firms have witnessed cyber-criminals launching COVID-19-oriented attacks that increased by 240% in Q3 and 114% in Q4 2020, with an average of 648 new threats per minute. As a result, Indian web-users realise the importance of online security.

According to the McAfee survey, 88% of Indian consumers feel they are more digitally connected since the start of COVID-19 via devices, online activities, connected homes, and more, and 86% have implemented more protection for their digital devices.

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That said, Indians are taking security into their own hands as a form of ‘individual cyber-sovereignty’. The survey states 57% agree that digital hygiene — or the lack of it — can put themselves and their families at risk. Meanwhile, two out of three Indians (68%) take the time to check if the network that they are joining is secure before connecting. Furthermore, more than half (53%) feel more vulnerable to risks when someone has visited their home and has connected to their Internet. Perceived to be most vulnerable to cyber-threats are Wi-Fi networks (57%), someone’s home computer (46%), smart-home assistants (26%), smart televisions (28%), and gaming systems (29%).

While kids form the biggest users of distance learning, more than half (62%) believe that digital wellness and protection should have a separate curriculum and be taught throughout primary school. This is compounded by concerns around the increased connectedness of kids: exposure to scams (53%), sharing personal information (53%), illegal content (55%), cyber-bullying (52%), and misinformation (49%).


McAfee’s report also cites, “more than half of Indians (58%) indicate having a good understanding of the data they store on their mobile device(s). Signalling a shift towards responsible behaviour, 72% utilise a mobile security software solution to protect data on their phone, of which, 46% use preinstalled security software. 58% of Indians believe that the information and data stored on their mobile phone is secure from cyber-risks.”

As more education institutes keep their learning online and virtual McAfee observes, “81% of Indians state that since 2020, members in their household have started to participate in distance learning via virtual platforms.” However, the study reveals that only less than half (36%) of them purchased new security/protection technology to protect their family and home when distance learning was introduced into their new life routine.

Security tips for all

Prioritise your digital wellbeing. As people continue to embrace remote working models, educating and increasing self-awareness on potential cyber threats can help preempt threats and enable due precaution. Enhancing security standards across devices and home networks work out in the long run for maintaining digital wellness.

Layer up your protection. Use multi-factor authentication to double-check digital authenticity and add a layer of security to protect personal data and information.

Connect with caution, always. Be cautious when connecting to any public Wi-Fi, or even your friend’s Wi-Fi connection, and make sure the network is secure and attached to a trusted source. Ensure that you do not undertake any financial transactions or share any personal details while on an untrustworthy Wi-Fi network. In fact, it is best to avoid one altogether.

Separate your devices for business and personal use, where possible. It is advisable to set boundaries between personal and work life. To prevent sharing information through personal channels, it is advisable to keep personal devices and accounts separate from those used for business purposes.

Use up-to-date, industry-strength security software. A comprehensive security software that can detect and block a variety of threats is always a good investment. Also, check if it includes a firewall, as this will ensure that all the computers and devices on your home network are well protected.

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