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Pegasus Spyware Attack on WhatsApp: 8 tips to protect your data and privacy online

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If you are concerned about your privacy and want to protect your personal information from spyware attacks, here are the best ways to keep yourself protected:

Pegasus Spyware Attack on WhatsApp: 8 tips to protect your data and privacy online
Within a span of a week, two instances have come to light that highlight the privacy risk users face today. First, is the sale of India debit and credit card details on the dark web, and second, is the use of Pegasus spyware to snoop on WhatsApp users in India.
If you are concerned about your privacy and want to protect your personal information from spyware attacks, here are the best ways to keep yourself protected:
  • Invest in a Security Suite:
  • Along with your computer hardware and software getting evolved over the years, we also saw the type of privacy threats increase multi-fold. Now, it's not just a virus that you have to worry about, there are also malware, spyware, adware and hacker threats. Also, bear in mind that it's not only your computer that is at risk, it's also your smartphone that can get infected. You can get a basic level of security with free security solutions available today but we highly recommend that you invest in a paid security suite. A security suite gives you anti-virus, anti-malware as well as firewall protection. Opt for security suite from Symantec, Kaspersky or Bitdefender.
  • Start using a VPN: A VPN (Virtual Private Network), in simple terms, is a program that lets users connect to the Internet with added security encryption so that the connection is anonymous and secure from hackers or any tracking software. If you are worried about data stored on your device while connecting to the Internet, using a VPN at all times is recommended. There are various free and paid VPN services available today with the most paid ones giving you a trial period to test out their service. You should try out services of Nord VPN, ProtonVPN, CyberGhost or Hotspot Shield and then pick up one that works best with your connection.
  • Follow Good Password Habits: Your password is what secures your account and data but the majority of the users do not follow good password habits which makes them vulnerable to data thefts. First, ensure that you use a strong password; a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols is ideal. Second, do not keep the same password for all your accounts and service logins. Third, get into a habit of changing your password every 6 months. Lastly, make sure that you log-out from your account instead of just closing the browser window as that may leave your account logged-in which would lead to anyone being able to access your personal information.
  • Use Two Factor Authentication: Most of us feel that passwords are good enough for security but that’s not true. Instead, opt for multi-factor authentication wherever possible Almost all major services used today including email, social media, wallets, banking, cloud computing, gaming , etc offer two-factor authentication service. Once enabled, the two-factor authentication service would require you to input a password followed by an OTP generated via an authenticator app or sent on SMS/email to confirm your identity before allowing access. This adds a second layer of security against hackers ensuring no one can gain access to your account in case your password is leaked or stolen.
  • Secure Your Browser: Your browser is the gateway to access information on the Internet and thus is also the point that is most prone to security risks. To ensure a safe browsing experience you need to take care of a few things while browsing. First, use only HTTPS links which indicate that the website is secure. Second, never save your passwords or other information in the browser for quick access later. Third, try and use private browsing or incognito mode wherever possible. Lastly, install useful security extensions to your browsers such as Privacy Badger, HTTPS everywhere and Adblocker.
  • Review App Permissions: Smartphone users tend to install apps without giving a second look at the permission access required which makes your data prone to being leaked or stolen. Both Android and iOS give you the option to manage app permission and we suggest that you switch off permissions that are not relevant to the app. For example,  an image editing app does not need access to voice all or SMS capabilities on your phone. Reviewing permissions and switching off the unnecessary ones will help make your device more secure.
  • Check Third party Account Access: A majority of online users prefer to use the "Login with Google" or "Login with Facebook/twitter" options when visiting a new website that requires your registration. What you don’t realize is that by doing this, you are granting access to all of your information to these third parties which in turn makes you prone to security risks. Head to security settings of each service where you can view which third party sites/apps have access to your accounts along with the option to revoke access. An alternative method to avoid this is to use a disposable email address for sign-up on such websites.
  • Keep an eye out for Scams: There are some basic rules everyone should follow on the internet to secure your privacy and avoiding scams. Do not download software or apps from unknown sources. Make sure you do not open any email attachment or click on any link from unknown senders. Be careful about sharing personal information online, be it your email Id, birthday or your credit card details. Do not believe in every news/update you receive from social platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook; ensure you check reliable sources to confirm the news.