Gone are the days when you had to stand in long queues to pay your electricity bills, phone bills, income tax returns and almost everything.
But easy access to the internet and availability of these services online not just provide relief but of course helps in saving time. At the same time users are also exposed to the threats of identity theft, loss of personal information and spams.
If we follow a few golden rules, we can easily protect our personal information and greatly reduce the possibility of fraud. Here are some of them:
- Keep different passwords for different internet accounts; specially for the Banking and Financial Accounts
- Use Password Managers for saving and generating longer and complex passwords
- Don't save then in email, computer or on phone as plain text
Open WiFi Networks
- Try to avoid joining the open WiFi networks, this is highly risky as for open networks, the devices only match SSID i.e. WiFi Network name and if any hacker is pretending to be the real one; you are in bigger risk
- Use VPN service if you really need to do so
- Try not to do any financial transaction or checks while on open networks
Outpost Security Suite
This is the only free security suite that offers antivirus, firewall and anti malware in a single package. It even offers email and web surfing security for online protection and monitors application behaviour to keep a check on malicious infections. Being free, it does have some limitations — only one auto update is allowed in a day. Others need to be manually done. Also, it does not include identity theft protection or technical support.
Norton 360 (v 6.0)
As an all-in-one suite, Norton 360 (Rs 1,649) is pretty complete. Apart from protecting against local threats, it has a set of tools for online identity theft protection, to tune up your PC, Email and instant message monitoring as well as browser plugins to warn you of harmful websites & downloads. It even has parental controls to track Internet usage and keep kids safe from online threats. Finally, the price includes 2GB cloud storage. Norton 360 can automatically take a regular backup of important files to the cloud.
The free Comodo firewall uses cloud-based data to to protect your computer against online threats and programs. It is capable of detecting most trojans, worms, hacker attacks and even has a sandbox mode where new programs can be run in a protected, virtual environment to make sure that they are not harmful. In ‘game mode’, Comodo works silently in the background — useful if you don’t want to be disturbed while playing a game or watching a movie. Finally, a built in ‘TrustConnect’ Wi-Fi feature encrypts and safeguards data transfers when connected to a public network.
The Pro version of ZoneAlarm’s Firewall (US$ 30/year) protects your computer against hackers and makes it invisible online by hiding your information. It has a built-in anti-phishing tool that stops fake/infected websites from opening on your system and it even authenticates websites to show you which ones are secure and which are not. If an active download is infected, the firewall automatically suspends the download for protection. It even gives you 2GB online storage where the program uploads and backs up important data that can be restored if required.
Avast for Android
Avast’s free app provides real time antivirus protection and even offers a firewall that can stop any app from accessing the Internet. It even offers SMS/call filtering, an app task manager and can show access rights of each app installed to detect any data stealing. The app has a strong set of anti-theft features that include lost notification on the phone, SIM lock, SIM change notifications, remote restart, remote wipe as well as the option to remotely locate your phone using GPS. The only thing that this free app skips out on is any sort of data backup service.
VirusBarrier for iOS
This $2.99 app can do on-demand scans of content downloaded on to your iOS device. The program scans for malware, adware and hacker tools on the iOS device which might get transferred and then infect the computer (Windows/MAC/Unix) when the device is connected to it. It can scan through zip files, email attachments, files stored online in Dropbox or on FTP severs and can also scan websites for phishing links or other online threats.
More options for advanced users
Stay safe while downloading
Using Torrents is not illegal – sharing of copyrighted information is. Having said that, if you are a torrent user and are fed up of internet service providers clamping down on torrent speeds or are wary about your privacy being compromised (because of over-zealous media industry watchdogs), you should consider services like www.peerblock.com and www.btguard.com.
BTGuard’s paid service completely hides your computer’s IP address and provides a secure, encrypted route for your torrent data. PeerBlock is open source and works in conjunction with www.iblocklist.com. It essentially blocks your computer’s communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring torrents or computers which have been ‘hacked’ ( botnets).
Safeguard your property:
Normally, there’s not a very good chance that a stolen/lost laptop will be returned to you. Unless you install Prey first, that is. Head to www.preyproject.com to create and account and get started – it is free and available for Windows, Mac & Linux/Ubuntu. Prey installs in stealth mode – you won’t find it anywhere on your computer – not in the hard drive and there’s no mention of it in the start menu. Instead, you control it using an online control panel which you log into from any web browser on any machine.
Prey sits idle unless it receives a signal from you that the laptop has been stolen. Then onwards, as soon as the machine is connected to a network, it’s exact location is relayed back you to. You can also choose to take a screenshot of what the thief is doing, use the webcam to take a photo, hide your passwords and data or do a complete data wipe. The point is, you stay in control and because you can continuously track the computer, chances of recovery are good. Prey is also available for smartphones running Android and iOS (download them from the respective app stores).
Head to www.ispyconnect.com and you can download free software for Windows that converts your existing webcam into a surveillance device, complete with features like video recording, motion detection, face detection, audio feeds and automatic YouTube uploading. Advanced features like remote access (login to the website to monitor your cameras), access from mobile devices and automatic SMS/MMS/Twitter alerts cost upwards of $7.95 per month.