We often come across terms such as cyber security, internet safety and online safety, but what do they mean? Cyber safety has become an integral part of our daily lives because we are always online. If not on our laptops and PCs, then on our mobile phones. From the moment we wake up to the time we sleep, we are surrounded by various gadgets. Today, making a simple online payment and even attending school or office is done using the internet! I will attempt to explain computer viruses, hackers (and their types) and internet or cyber safety in simple terms.
- Computer viruses are programs or files that may be dangerous and may get downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge. They contain programs or code
that may damage your computer or steal some of your information from your PC, laptop or mobile. There are many different types of viruses like web scripting viruses, macro viruses or file-infecting viruses. Some examples of dangerous viruses are Stuxnet, MyDoom or the famous iloveyou virus. To stay safe from such viruses, it is highly recommended to purchase a good paid antivirus with an inbuilt firewall and VPN and run a virus scan regularly.
- Hackers are skilled computer programmers who use their pro-gramming skills to gain access to your computer system by non-standard means. A hacker who damages your computer is called a ‘black hat hacker’. One of the most common reasons for hackers to hack is to steal, leak information or get money illegally. Hackers also hack to make themselves famous. But sometimes hackers are good and those hackers keep computers safe. They are called ‘ethical hackers’ or ‘white hat hackers’.
To stay safe, we can do a few simple things while browsing the internet. Always ensure the following:
- Create strong passwords with numerical and special characters.
- Check the URLs of the sites you are visiting, especially while doing online payments. If it is HTTP, it may not be safe and if it is HTTPS, it is safe and secure.
- Scan attachments in your e-mails for viruses so that you can confirm they are safe before opening the attached files.
- If you receive spam e-mails, you can report them and block the sender so that you do not receive them anymore.
- Do not open links that may seem suspicious and claim that you have won free prizes or gifts.