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Women's Day 2021 | Here are some practical tips for women to stay cyber-safe

Of the 71 crore population that uses the Internet, 25 crore are women; 80 percent of people, especially women are falling prey to cyber-crimes and unfortunately, 63 percent of them don’t know where/how to lodge complaints and the process thereafter.

March 08, 2021 / 11:07 AM IST

There has been an extensive rise in cyber-crimes against women since criminals realised that most women do not report these crimes due to social pressures and loss of dignity due to society’s lack of understanding for victims. It is a global phenomenon that hampers the privacy and security of a person online. Women are the soft targets and experience several types of harassment on a high scale. They have often been victims of cyber attackers and stalkers. The attackers are on a hunt for personal information such as passwords, bank details, etc. thus invading their privacy. They are often harassed, stalked and threatened on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. with threats bordering on life-threatening attacks.

Also read: Women's Day 2021: 4 money tips for women to achieve financial independence

According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, it has been revealed that approximately only 6,030 cyber-crimes were registered by women. Out of the 71 crore population that uses the Internet, 25 crore are women. Eighty percent of people, especially women are falling prey to cyber-crimes and unfortunately, 63 percent of them don’t know where/how to lodge complaints and the process thereafter. This is also a major sociological problem that we must solve as a society as most crimes go unreported due to the stigma associated with these crimes.

As we celebrate women’s day, below are the list of attacks and the cyber safety measures that women should keep in mind to safeguard our profiles. Women are particularly susceptible to the following kinds of cyber-attacks due to the stigma associated with data leaks concerning their gender. Here, photo morphing ranks as one of the most egregious and violative attack on a woman’s privacy.

Photo morphing and leaks: Photos can be misused in various ways. One of the most common ones consists of using a particular person’s photos on another person's body structure. That’s termed morphing. It can be used on illegal websites that one may not be aware of. It’s better not to share private photos with anyone regardless of the intention behind them or the person receiving them. Every photo that is captured from a mobile phone is backed up on the user’s Google Drive and iCloud account. But what if somebody gets access to the Google drives or iCloud account? There has already been a case study about 26 Hollywood actresses whose nude photos went viral and even they were surprised and unaware as to how it happened.


Also read: Women's Day 2021 | Nita Ambani launches 'Her Circle' digital platform to empower women

Account hacking: The risks that women face are higher due to the misuse of the data by criminals and the fear that women have in reporting these crimes openly. Practices such as using open networks in cafes and other places to log on to social media sites, shop online or do their banking activities online can increase the risk. Once we put our bank details or any passwords using such connections, it paves the way for cybercriminals to steal our data and hard-earned money, without our knowledge. Hence, it is advisable always to use Wi-Fi with security codes so that the account stays secured.

Recently there was an incident that took place wherein a female student got a request from an unknown profile which she accepted. It turns out the boy in question was actually a bot programmed to extort money by blackmailing the victims once they become comfortable enough to share sensitive information like nude images.

Nowadays, quirky challenges and games trend easily due to increased usage of internet and influencers. Without checking the background or taking any pre-cautionary steps, engaging with such applications makes our account vulnerable for trespassing.

Cyber-security measures:

  • Two-factor authentication
    Always use two-factor authentications which can be enabled on social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Gmail account.

  • Anti-data recovery: While selling the phone, use anti-data recovery solution; otherwise the data will be restored and misused by being sold on dark web.

  • Lock devices: We should always put a lock on our devices so that no one can get to know our private information. The best way to secure your devices is to opt for a vault application that will give robust security and protect that data that is stored in an encrypted manner.

  • Strong passwords: It is recommended that we change our passwords regularly and use strong passwords per the password policy of the particular website. Also, we should always use different passwords for different online accounts. Using password manger applications to store passwords is advisable.

  • Account privacy: Every woman is recommended to change their account settings from public to private and to check site safety extensions of your account and the website. Avoid opening with red and yellow indicator.

  • Block people: Never hesitate to block the account of those who cyber bully us or harass you.

  • Limited information: It is advisable to only mention information that is required as such information can be used for social engineering purposes leading to higher chances of falling prey to cybercrimes.

We usually have a casual approach towards online safety, threats and cybercrimes. As a result of which, we leave our security features unattended. We must change that attitude and rather have an overview of our security features and work on what we lacked earlier. All said and done, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Vigilance is the best way to live fearlessly in a world with enhanced digital engagement, and women need to be free of the social stigma when their data is stolen, to report it and live fearlessly.  This will bring a significant change in the way we make society and cyberspace safer for women.

"Protect your Secrets from Leaking out through all doors"

"Block all the ways and conceal the secrets" -Chanakya Sutrani.

Follow our full coverage of Women's Day 2021
Nikhil Mahadeshwar
first published: Mar 8, 2021 07:15 am

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