Experts: No one safe online

Mobile phones, voice assistants, routers — deadly dangers lurk in every single net-enabled device

How safe are you on the Internet? Not very. But you are safe if the Internet is switched off, right? No again.

This was the warning that came out of a panel discussion hosted by FICCI Flo on Tuesday at the Radisson Blu Atria.

The panel included women-stalwarts in cybersecurity, covering policy and execution at global, national, state and city levels.

After the insightful session, everyone in the audience wanted to use less of their gadgets. They couldn’t believe the technology that is so useful is also so vulnerable. 

Everything from debit and credit card details to email passwords can be hacked, as details are stored online. The latest threats come when you turn your house into a ‘smart home’.

So how can you stay safe and still use technology? 


Arati Sankhe, director of engineering at McAfee, says, “First of all, you have to be aware that privacy is a myth. Many of you think you don’t have any threatening content on your device to worry about, but just your shopping and browsing details can leave you susceptible to threat vectors.”

She suggests it is important to buy licensed security software and consult experts who work on cybersecurity.  


You may have noticed how, during a conversation, your phone lights up and Google or Siri says it couldn’t understand what you are asking.

Your devices are always listening to you. Virtual assistants Alexa and Google Home respond to your voice commands and play music and create shopping lists, but they also respond to other voices. 

Aarti explains: “With smart homes today, you can even ask the virtual assistant to open the door to your house. But here’s the problem — if someone else asks Alexa or Google Home to open the door, they will do it. It’s almost as if you are not safe in your own home. All that the device needs is a command and it responds.”

Such devices have access to your email accounts, and hackers can get hold of details. 

Since all these smart devices use the Internet, experts recommend security software for the home router. The software can judge if the domain is a threat and can block it if it is. 


Shubhamangala Sunil, certified anti-terrorism specialist, suggests strong passwords.
“Don’t write them out in a book easily accessible to others. It’s also best that you back up important documents on to a hard drive when your Internet is switched off,” she says.


On sites such as Facebook, many users post details of where they are travelling. 

Jija Hari Singh, retired DGP, Karnataka, says when parents post pictures of their children in school uniforms, they have given away information that has helped kidnappers.

“Don’t share personal things. While it may seem glamorous, you are putting yourself and the person with you in danger,” she says.

But what about social media influencers? It’s their job to upload pictures and tell the world where they are travelling.

“If it’s a business-related requirement, it’s best to use two different devices. Know which server and network you are connected to when travelling and be careful with the content you put out there,” says Shubhamangala. 

Cyber insurance for businesses is a must as details of the company and employees can be leaked easily. 

Did you know? 

Even if your phone is switched off, it captures your movements. The data is stored on the server once the device is switched on.

Factory reset option does not erase data. Hackers can access your information from servers.

You can learn about your activities by going to the Google dashboard and typing ‘MyActivity’. It records your voice details too.

Things to remember

Don’t share personal details, location or daily activity on social media. 

Disable the ‘auto download’ option on WhatsApp. The images and videos you receive, even those from close friends, can sometimes contain malware.

Don’t use free Wi-Fi in public places.

If you have a business, hire a cybersecurity consultant. 

Don’t sleep with your phone under your pillow. The radiation is harmful.

Top cyber crimes in Bengaluru

Phishing: Someone posing as a trustworthy representative of a financial institution obtains bank details, OTPs, and passwords through email.

ATM skimming: A device is attached stealthily on an ATM. When the customer goes in to use the machine, the device captures the information stored on the magnetic strip. 

Job frauds: Frauds pretending to be recruiters and scam people into parting with ‘processing fees’ and ‘deposits’. 

Viral photos: Former lover shares intimate photos on social media. 

Help from cyber police 

Bengaluru has a cyber police station on Infantry Road. Eight more cyber police cells are coming up. 

Cyber Dost, an initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs, is available on social media and can be used to file complaints. 

Isha Pant, IPS officer, DCP South East, Bengaluru, says, “Last year, we had 5,000 cyber cases. This year, it has already crossed 9,500.” 


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