World Wide Web Day: Remembering the indispensible Man Friday of the 21st century | Top Stories

This year on my birthday, I received birthday wishes from long lost friends on social media and people I lost contact with for years. My family and colleagues sent me gifts and flowers brought from online stores. Even my cake was ordered online! I wondered, “How would these things have been possible without the World Wide Web?”

1 August 2018 is the 29th birthday of the ‘World Wide Web’ and this is the right opportunity to thank its creators, and this service for all that it has made possible.

Internet has made

Internet has made our lives easier.

The World Wide Web (WWW) was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau and was first introduced at CERN in Switzerland. Quick enough, the internet became the magic portal that gave access to infinite resources online – something previous generations would have thought imaginable only in science fiction.

A year later in August 1991, the first website was published, and today there are more than one billion websites in existence!

How many times do you use a browser service each day, 10, 20, 30, or more? Almost everything you do online requires the usage of a web browser – whether it’s using Google for information, watching movies and shows online, checking social media accounts, making online transactions or even communicating over WhatsApp. Well, how many times is that?

The internet now permeates practically every hour of our daily lives. For the majority of us, the world can be broadly divided into two phases – before and after the inception and widespread use of the World Wide Web.

YouTube stars, Instagram influencers, Snapchat superheroes have only the internet to thank for their fame.

It is difficult to imagine our lives without Google.

It is difficult to imagine our lives without Google.

Could you imagine the world without Dr Google? Can you remember the last time you looked up a number in a phone book or called somebody after referring to the Yellow Pages? What’s Yellow Pages, some of you may ask?

Everybody’s a travel agent now. And of course, a restaurant critic.

How often do we ask strangers for directions? We now have Google Maps to our rescue.

The exponential growth of internet users, businesses, and services online have given ample opportunities to every individual to explore a life way beyond geographic boundaries.

Unfortunately, criminals have also joined the bandwagon. Cybercriminals deviously attack systems, crash devices, steal files and interrupt organisational functioning and services. Hackers are becoming progressively sophisticated and are now using social engineering and phishing to target gullible users.

The concept of a computer bug or virus was introduced long before the first virus was established. In 1983, Fred Cohen demonstrated a program that could replicate itself multiple times. The first worm to create worldwide disruption was the ‘Morris Worm’. Developed by Robert Morris, it took advantage of the vulnerabilities in the UNIX system and replicated itself regularly, immensely slowing down computers. This attack has the infamous distinction of being the first global multi-platform attack and has thus raised awareness about the need for cybersecurity.

Representational Image.

Representational Image.

Being conscious is the first step towards cybersecurity and there’s no better way to observe World Wide Web day than by being a safe surfer. Here’s how you can ensure your safety while browsing:

  • Always install updates, don’t keep them for later: Having the most up-to-date software and applications is a great defence against threats. If an app is no longer in use, delete it to ensure your device is clutter-free and are no longer housing unverified or outdated apps.
  • Use Privacy Settings on Social Media sites: Most social media provide you with options to select recipients of your shared information e.g. Public or Friends. Ensure this is set for trusted individuals and friends, rather than to the public, as a precaution.
  • When in doubt, don’t download: Review criterias like app permissions required and developer source prior to downloading. Always check app security levels from a valid store.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi when possible: Hotspots and public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, meaning anyone can see what you’re doing on your device. Limit your online activity and avoid logging into accounts that hold sensitive personal information.
  • Secure your devices: Strong passwords, touch ID features and comprehensive security solutions are an effective defence against cybercriminals stealing sensitive information. With security measures in place, your data is protected in the case of your device being lost or stolen.

Essentially, the internet has turned into a powerful medium, giving us the potential to connect with people, businesses and communities across the world, influencing our daily lives and society as a whole. Going beyond geographical boundaries, it aims to make the world a single, connected entity and brings the world at our fingertips. With just a swipe and a few taps, we have progressed to a civilization that has the means to more information than any generation before us.

With cybersecurity in place, we can look forward to the accomplishment of the ‘Digital India’ vision where every citizen will browse safely and lead a secure digital life and encourage their family to do so.

The author is the vice president of Engineering and Managing Director – McAfee

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