KATHMANDU: Personal security or the secure management of personal records, finances, and other individual effects have been increasingly transferred over to computerised databases that are housed on the world wide web. With all information within the reach of some kind of online server, the question of safety of digital storage arises. Storing files on the much-vaunted ‘almighty cloud’ is merely sympathetic spin for ‘your data is on somebody else’s server.’ What
exactly is secure about your information being on somebody else’s computer system anyway? How can an individual better control their online data in this environment?
Firstly, securing data is placing tight control over releasing it in the first place. Ensure that information is not given to phishing, or other correspondence that casually ask to divulge password, critical data, accounts, and social security number. You may have to think hard about the pros and cons of including a detailed profile of yourself on social sites. An extensive individual profile may be used to help track and spy on your activities by parties that pretend to be your friend by contacting through those same social communities.
Secondly, if you do take the plunge with Facebook or Twitter, be careful about what you post on such sites. Many celebrities have already experienced the awkward embarrassment of discovering that what they thought were cute but ‘personal’ postings to friends and followers were treated like a de facto public communication.
Third precaution is to install a security programme in your personal computer (PC). Much of the online malware is designed not to harm computer files, but to raid and extract personal data for either marketing, surveillance, or at worst, theft or identity fraud purposes. Some such software plant persistent cookies on your computer to track your browsing history, or key voters that record each keystroke you make, then send the information and reassemble what you have typed at a remote location.
For these reasons, it is important to keep your PC’s security software updated, as well as install a good firewall and registry protection programme to prevent a silent digital takeover of your computer. Additionally, securing safety measures involve opting to encrypt your files, and to attach custom security protocols in order for someone else to access information you sent and received. Using passwords or security questions and answers are the extra layers that control the number of people who could unlock your transmission.
Finally, when setting up a security firewall or password system, take care to select terms that are not so obvious as to be figured out by anyone. Sadly, common passwords are the weakest link in the security of most online users, who lazily pick terms such as their last name, ‘1234’ or similar easy to guess passwords and pin numbers. Also remember to log out thoroughly from a PC when you are finished using it, otherwise a second party can easily takeover from where you left off, and access everything, even with all your security software is running.
Parents should become more vigilant about keeping their young ones secure and safe while using internet. This is even important since the arrival of smartphones and other gadgets that provides easy online access. Internet attracts young people to the web, from social media to chat rooms to texting and more. More avenues exist for them to be exposed to child predators, cyber bullies, phishing scams, and invasion of privacy. (The author is associated with Living with ICT and CG Manipal Campion School. He can be contracted through firstname.lastname@example.org)