SIBF 2020 social media workshop offers key tips on safe e-browsing

Cybersecurity company expert gives valuable advice on what not to do online at Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 online session

Sharjah, November 4, 2020

Ahmed Abdelghani, Senior Social Media Manager of Kaspersky Middle East, narrated an incident that occurred in 2018 when a top executive of a multinational company was befriended online by Mia Ash, a 30-year-old British woman with two art school degrees, a successful photography career, more than 500 friends on Facebook, and as many on LinkedIn.

Speaking at a social media session titled ‘E-safety’ held on the inaugural day of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 on Wednesday, on the ‘Sharjah Reads’ virtual platform, Abdelghani said: “She not only managed to convince the executive about her abilities, but also managed to infiltrate his company’s computer network by getting him to download an malware-infected Excel file on his office computer, and caused it huge losses,” he said.  “Upon investigation it turned out that Mia Ash was an elaborate creation of professional hackers who targeted dozens of organisations around the Middle East in a years-long campaign of data theft and blackmail.”

To avoid such an eventuality, Abdelghani went on to set out nine simple rules to follow to avoid getting into trouble online.

Limit use of personal information online

“You would not hand purely personal information out to strangers individually so do not hand it out to millions of people online either,” advised Abdelghani. “Potential employers or customers do not need your personal relationship status or your home address, so just stick to professional details.”

Keep your privacy settings on

Marketers as well as hackers can learn a lot from your browsing and social media usage. “So, take charge of your information,” said Abdelghani. “Both, web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings to protect you online. They might be hard to find because companies want your personal information for marketing, but make sure you enable all safeguards and keep them on.”

Practice safe browsing

Abdelghani advised against visiting unreliable websites. “Cybercriminals create these traps as they know people may let their guard down when something attracts them. One careless click could expose personal data or infect your device with malware.”

Use a secure internet connection

“When you go online using a public Wi-Fi connection, you have no direct control over its security. Make sure your device is secure, and when in doubt, wait for a secure connection before providing information such as your bank account number,” said Abdelghani.

Be mindful of what you download

Cybercriminals trick you into downloading programmes or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. Abdelghani advised against downloading apps that look suspicious or come from a site you do not trust.

Create strong passwords

“Select strong passwords at least 15 characters long, mixing letters, numbers, and special characters to deter cybercriminals,” he continued, adding: “a password manager software can help you to manage multiple passwords so that you do not forget them.”

Online purchases

Make online purchases only from sites that provide secure, encrypted connections. Make sure the address starts with https:  rather than simply http: They may also be marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar.

Mind what you post

Any comment or image posted online may stay online forever because deleting the original post does not remove any copies that other people may have made. Do not post anything online that you would not want your family or a prospective employer to see, warned Abdelghani.

Antivirus software

While an internet security software cannot protect against every threat, it will detect and remove most malware, so make sure it is up to date, Abdelghani concluded.

Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF 2020 concludes on November 14. Being held under the theme, ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’, the 39th edition has adopted a fully digital format to host its cultural and social media programme of 64 unique events, which are being streamed on SBA’s virtual platform over the 11 days of the fair. Register for upcoming discussions at https://www.sharjahreads.com/.              -ENDS-