Thursday, April 29, 2021

Things to know about browser Cookies for online privacy

How do cookies work?
While working for the Netscape Lou Montulli invented the cookies in 1994 in order to monetize the website and make it a remunerative business. In the initial phase of its use, it was not widely known to the public, as it was used surreptitiously, and as a result it dtd not attract any adverse attention of the users. The website would not inform the user about the use of cookies and the user’s acceptance of cookies use was by default. Its grey was small and tentacles were few and short during the nascent phase. Aversion to cookies gradually rose only after the Financial Times (USA) published an article about cookies in 1996. Now there are elaborate laws for data protection to protect the net users from imperceptible presence of the cookies behind the screen. Now wwebsites have their cookies policy.

The website asks the user if the accept the cookies or not. If the user clicks, AGREE/ACCEPT ALL/YES, the browser will create the cookies. If you do not accept, you can visit the website in most of the cases but the website may not function as intended. The cookies will start tracking your net usage and store the data only you accept the cookies. The cookies would be stored on your PC (locally) or would be transmitted to the host server. When you visit the same website again, cookies will come into play. The cookies saved locally on the device or transferred from the server, will help you to fill up the form, login data, preference of language, etc and will also continue further to garner and accumulate more and more your tracking data while you are surfing the net. The “enriched” cookies will be stored locally on the device or on the host server, waiting to jump into your browser as and when you access the website next time. Quite smart and stealthy creature!

Types of cookies (Without classifying the cookies in a particular class):

[1] Necessary / Required Cookies
These are the basic cookies and without them the functioning of the website will be sub-optimal as they enable the basic functions of the website. This type of cookies cannot be disabled.
[2] Statistical / Analytics Cookies
These cookies are used for collecting data regarding the interaction of the user with the website and reporting the same anonymously. This helps to measure the activity of the users and improve the functionality of the website.
[3] Marketing Cookies
Primary purpose of these cookies is for marketing of products and services and depict relevant ad. They collect data on user behavior and interest and prepare User Profile and show ad/ link / banner as per the profile. Apart from marketing intelligence, various demographic, social and political profitable inferences can also be drawn.
[4] First-Party Cookies
Some cookies may pack more of a threat than others depending on where they come from. First-party cookies are used by the website user is using. These are less risky if the website is reputed one and have not been compromised.
[5] Third-Party Cookies
Irrespective of clicking by the user, the ad / link / banner on the website generate the cookies which are called Third-party cookies. They are more shrewd and risky. If there are, say 5 cookies on the website, 5 cookies will be generated even if the user does not click any of them. They help the advertisers or Analysts track netizens, browsing data across the web on any sites that display their ads.
[6] Zombie cookies
These cookies are bit pervert and would get generated without users’ Acceptance. They are Third-party and stay permanently on users' computers. Like a phoenix bird, they would get regenerated even after deleting. They are also known as “flash cookies” and are extremely difficult to remove. These cookies can be deployed to prevent the certain users.
[7] Session cookies
These cookies are “ephemeral” in terms longevity and according they are also called 'temporary cookies'. They store the user’s data for a particular session of use of the website and on closure of the browser, they are deleted. They are used for shopping from online stores.
[8] Permanent cookies
They will be stored on the device even after the web site is has closed. They store login ID and passwords so that web users don't need to re-enter them on next visit of the website. They are required to be deleted after certain months as prescribed in the data protection laws of the respective country.
[9] Tracking Cookies

If you are an avid net user, you must have registered / subscribed for a particular interest with a particular organisation/website. While you are doing this, Tracking Cookies are generated. Next day you would find lots of unsolicited promotional marketing material in your email account from many organisations from nook and corner of the world. The data generated by Tracking Cookies are shared by other unintended organisations/websites also, for pre-arranged mutual gains or otherwise.

How to block cookies:
The cookies serve useful purposes but your personal data are vulnerable to misuse. So you might have some aversion to them. If that is the case, when you visit the website, you can decline the acceptance to all the cookies (Except Necessary) but the performance of the website will be sub-optimal. Or you can Accept only particular type of cookies. This type of functionality is available in all the popular browsers in Settings.

Removing / Deleting the Cookies:
Cookies can be removed but bear in mind that your interface with the website will not be so smooth in their absence. Though, it is very difficult to remain anonymous / incognito while using the web, it is advisable to delete the Cookies to protect your privacy. This functionality is available in the browsers (generally under History > Clear Browsing Data).

Data security while on net:
It is pertinent to add here that use of public Wi-Fi is more susceptible to eavesdropping / hacking of personal data while use of VPN provides more cyber security to personal data. Likewise, TLS / HTTPS also provides more cyber security as the data is transmitted in encrypted format.

What are Cookies?
Putting the complex digital concept in simple words: Cookies are a small text file created by the browser to keep track of user’s language preference, login information, surfing behavior, usage of apps, shopping behavior, clicks on links/ads/banners, IP addresses, geographical location, currency, interests, due date of renewal of payable installed tools/software, etc while the user is surfing a website in order to use these data later, when the user visits the website again, in order to streamline the delivery of curated/tailored content, focused search results, relevant information and marketing ads, better feedback/communication, improved site performance/browsing satisfaction and, in most of the cases to manipulate the user’s data for a small pecuniary gains, for the website, through commission based on Pay Per Click.

Why were cookies invented?
Initially it was invented to keep track of the things an online shopper puts in the virtual shopping cart (say purchases) in a particular session of online shopping. Really a useful tool and true to their name, cookies were initially not despised by the net users. With the advent of IT, cookies were exploited to serve wider purposes.

It can store the data of the websites visited, frequency, duration, time, purpose, preferences, shopping behavior, pattern of navigation from host website to third party advertisements/banners/tags/links, etc. Host website can keep track of clicks on the ads and generate revenue on the basis of Pay Per Click (PPC). The cookies help fill up the forms on net as the cookies, based upon the past usages, knows what data are to be filled up and as soon as you open the form, the data are automatically filled in – auto populated. If the cookies have doubts if there more alternative probable choices, they show the choice which user can fill up just by clicking from the drop down list.

Cookies can also help decide the host server what pages to send in case of searching on net. It is like a family doctor who knows more about your health than you do and would diagnose the disease better with least questions asked. Now the flip side: as is the case with many of modern inventions, unscrupulous people have exploited the cookies into harming tools for undue gains. In beginning period of use of the cookies, they were gradually sneaked into the website, without an informed consent of the user and put to malicious use: as a stalking tool to track the online behavior of the netizens. They generate and store data regarding the net user’s online behavior and many sensitive information. The unscrupulous people / organization sells these data for money and put the data security of the unsuspecting net users at risk. Data is very important input for devising marketing strategy, political campaign, business rivalry, product innovation, Public Policy, etc. Depending upon the level of the negligence of the net users, design of the website and architecture of the host server, the data can be also misused to a wider extent.

The cookies are a micro cyber version of famous fictional detective Mr Sherlock Holmes. Though this cannot be generalized in the cases all websites using cookies, risk remains there as the hunger for users personal data is increasing day by day, coupled with sophisticated methods of hacking and network eavesdropping. As the science of Data Analytics is becoming stronger, so the need for data. Better to be aware and beware.

Conclusion:
There are strict laws for data protection in all the countries but still misuse of personal data collected through the cookies is rampant.
The cookies are necessary evil. Be on own guard.
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(The comments of the readers are welcome at gnpatel@gujaratinfotech.com)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Benefits of Cloud Technology for Businesses


What is Cloud Technology?

It is an internet based off-site data storage and retrieval facility with add on facilities of providing data computing services and resources, generally for multiple clients. This type of a Cloud is called a Public Cloud. There are Clouds serving only a single organisation (Enterprise Clouds), called a Private Cloud. However, generally the Clouds are owned and operated by third party Cloud services providers for multiple clients. A modern man uses the Cloud Technology everyday but remains unaware of its use. If you are using Emails, Social Media, Video streaming services, IoTs, Weather App, Web Searches, etc, you are using cloud technology. The Clouds not only provides services for storage of data but it also provides other computing facilities like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), etc.

Benefits of the Cloud Technology:

[1] Cost Reduction

To store the data safely, businesses need a Server Room. Setting up a Server Room is costly as it needs space, servers, air conditioning, fire safety equipments, CCTV Cameras, physical access control measures, etc. Disaster Recovery arrangement is also required. The businesses can obviate all these cost and also hassles if the services of Cloud Technology are availed.

[2] Sharing of the Data across the Enterprise

The data can be shared seamlessly on realtime basis by all the users irrespective of the location of the users, time of the access and the device used to access the data. What a great boon in the era of “Work Form Home”.

[3] Sharing of the Data with the Users outside the Enterprise

The data can also be shared in a secured and staggered manner with the users outside the enterprise e.g. customers, suppliers, buyers, investors, etc. This saves lots of time to provide services to customers and plugs the leakages in communication. Online shopping is a good example of availing benefits by this functionality.

[4] Automated Multi-tasking

Local hard-disk or on-site server are fast but when facing multi-tasking by a user or multiple users, they fall short of expectations of users regarding the speed. Given the high capacity of the Cloud for handling automated data flow coupled with speed of the internet, speed satisfies the expectations of multiple users at a time.

[5] User Friendly User Interface

Setting up and maintaining the Cloud services as such are ticklish jobs, even for an IT expert. However, for the user, it is very easy to upload or download the files as the interface is user friendly.

[6] Device Agnostic System

The Cloud works seamlessly with multiple types of devices (PC, laptop, tablet, mobile, etc) at the user end.

[7] Easy Scalability of Volume Load

As the Clouds have massive capacity to handle voluminous data, the CSPs can satisfy the storage need of the client on demand. This convenience cannot be expected if a business has its own data storage facility. As the CSPs have multiple clients, the increase and decrees in the demand stands counter-balanced so their capacity remains optimally utilised benefiting the clients in terms of pricing.

[8] Pricing Options

The CSPs offer various pricing options based on Time Used, Per User, Data Volume and permutations based on these factors (Hybrid Option). These options help the clients to choose the right pricing model and save the cost.

[9] Security of the Data

When connected via internet, safety of data remains the top most concern for the clients and it is more so when the data is uploaded in the servers owned by the third party at a faraway location, mostly unknown to the clients. This concern is well addressed by various physical and digital measures (firewall, encryption, back-ups at other location, etc) by the CSPs. The level of security is higher than what is available at in-house data centre/ server room. As the CSPs are big corporates like Google Cloud, IBM, Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba etc they can afford large sum for the purpose which individual could not afford. Further, it is not all about money but it is also about having talented manpower in the team.

[10] Business Continuity

Data could be lost due to various reasons like technical failure of the hardware, virus, sabotage, piracy, natural hazards, fire, short-circuit, etc. Business can face tough time to run the shop in a normal way. The chances of such untoward incident will be practically nil in view of the multi-layer security measure deployed by the CSPs. If the businesses avail the Cloud services, it is also a sound alternative to Disaster Recovery measure.

[11] Synchronization of Data

Cloud vendors provide the synchronization functionality. With this feature, user can sync the cloud storage data with other devices, seamlessly.

[12] Standardisation

Though every user of a computer follows standard procedure and dots the  I’s and cuts the T’s, the output/ deliverables are not so standard for variety of reasons. The use of Cloud helps to standardise the input and generate more standardised output/ deliverables.

Disadvantages of the Cloud Technology:

[1] Dependency on Internet

Internet is the mainstay of Cloud Technology. In data technology, the internet has made the geography irrelevant but if the same internet is not available or slow, the user is hamstrung.

[2] Data Security and Privacy

Though the Cloud Services are well equipped to maintain the data security, there are incidents of hacking. Depending upon the law of the land, an authority of a Sovereign Government can compel to divulge the data under given circumstances.

[3] Downtime

If the Cloud service is facing a power outage, a DoS (Denial of Services) attack buy a digital rogue, a technical glitch, a shutdown for maintenance, your own data will not be available till the problem is fixed.

Origin of the name Cloud:

The cloud symbol was used to represent networks of computing equipment in the ARPANET (Advanced Research Project Agency Network, USA) as early as 1977. As such it is a metaphor, having nothing to do with clouds in the sky.

How it works:

Before advent of the Cloud Technology, organisations used to store their data in removable hard-disk or Servers. Servers could be on-site or off-site. The Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) setup the server facility with massive capacity to store the data for the clients. This facility could be at one location or distributed across the globe, close to demand centres.

Future of the Cloud Technology:

The volume at which the data is generated every day is so massive that the adjectives like exponential and astronomical are poor to give the correct picture of the situation. The digital yardstick of Byte (Kilobyte to Yottabyte) is also small to measure the volume. The need and greed for data of businesses are increasing. Data has become a precious commodity in the modern world. Managing and manipulating data for commerce, communication, eGovernance, and entertainment are at the forefront of computing. Under such circumstances a question arises in the mind: What is the future of the Cloud Technology in the world of computing. The answer is: The Cloud Technology is the future of computing. 

If needed any consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us at 8448444245 or info@gujaratinfotech.com for any kind of requirement related  to Cloud Services from Amazon and Microsoft Azure" or Visit - www.gujaratinfotech.com

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(The comments of the readers are welcome at gnpatel@gujaratinfotech.com)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Save Income Tax @ End of Financial Year 2020-21 by Investing in NPS (National Pension System)

 


Here comes the Financial Year End and tax payers are alarmed at how fast the year passed and start worrying about the payment of income tax, to be specific, more about the investments to be made to save on income tax. Those who have no financial planning, become nervous in spite of handsome income every month. They curse the Govt for having introduced the harsh Income Tax Act. The solution lies in financial planning and not in cursing the authority. There are many schemes / avenues to invest for availing deduction from taxable income to curtail the liability for income tax. The present blog discusses the path less travelled – National Pension System.  

         The Govt of India has launched the NPS in 2004 for Govt employees which has, in 2009, been extended to All Citizens. The NPS has overcome the inertia and progressing steadily. 72.58 lakh subscribers from Govt Employees category and 25.21 lakhs subscribers from All Citizens Category have joined the NPS till Dec 2020.

The present blog seeks to highlight the deductions/  relief / rebates in Income Tax available to the NPS subscribers as the details of the NPS as such has already been discussed in the earlier blog (13th June, 2017) on this blogpost.

Following are the deductions/ reliefs / rebates in Income Tax (under Old Regime) available to the NPS subscribers for the subscription / investment made into Tier I a/c:

1. Under Section  80CCD(1), Investment made  up to Rs. 150000/- or 10% of salary whichever is less in NPS  is eligible for deduction from taxable income. This limit for self-employed person is 20% of gross income subject to a similar maximum amount of Rs. 150000/-. Further, it is to be noted that this investment is covered under the overall limit of Rs. 150000/- under Section 80C. The readers will be aware that investments like Life Insurance Premium, PPF, Employees PF, NSC, Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) of UTI, the repayment of principal portion of housing loan, specific Term Deposits for a fixed period with a Post Office / Scheduled Bank, Contribution by an employee to an approved superannuation/pension fund, SSY (Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana) and such other investments are also covered under 80C. 

2. In addition to above, under Section  80CCD(1B), Investment made into NPS  up to Rs. 50000 is also eligible for deduction from taxable income. This is an exclusive deduction which the NPS subscribers could avail and thereby increase their deduction up to Rs. 2 lakhs. 

3. Under Section 80CCD(2), the contribution made by the Employer in employee’s NPS Tier I account up to 10% of Basic and DA is tax free income in the hands of employees.  For the employer, such contributions are eligible expenses chargeable to Profit and Loss Account. It is to be noted that employer's contribution to EPF and NPS/Superannuation Fund above Rs 7.5 lakh is taxable income for the employee.

4. After completion of 3 years from joining the NPS, subscribers can withdraw as a partial withdrawal up to 25% of their OWN CONTRIBUTION for specific purposes. The partial withdrawal does not attract any Income Tax. The contribution, if any, made by the employer is not considered for partial withdrawal. Maximum 3 partial withdrawals can be made with a minimum gap of 5 years between two withdrawals.

5. On reaching the maturity age (vesting age) of 60 years, subscribers can withdraw up to 60% from the corpus  as a lump sum withdrawal which does not attract any Income Tax. The remaining amount is to be invested for purchasing an Annuity Plan from Annuity Service Provider who will pay the monthly pension. This remaining amount of corpus also does not attract any Income Tax.

6. THE GOVT EMPLOYEES can invest up to Rs. 1.50 lakh in the NPS TIER-II account and can claim Income Tax deduction under Section 80C. However, a Lock-in Period of 3 year is applicable to such investment made.

7. On EPF/PPF pattern, the investment made under NPS is EEE (Investment is Exempted, Accrued income/interest is Exempted, and Withdrawal on Maturity is also exempted). However, the monthly pension received from the Annuity Plan is taxable.

8. Opening of Tier II a/c is not mandatory for availing benefits of deductions of amount invested in NPS under Income Tax. Income Tax deduction is available for the investment made in Tier I a/c only. However, for rules applicable to  Govt employees, see Item No. 6 above. 

9. Norms for Tier I A/c and Tier II a/c are given hereunder for ready reference:

Parameter

A/c Tier I

A/c Tier II

Eligibility

Any Indian citizen between 18 & 65 years of age

Members of Tier I only

Lock-in period

 Till the age of 60 years

Nil

Mini number of contributions in year

1

Not mandatory

Mini contribution for account opening

Rs 500

Rs 1,000

Mini amount for subsequent contribution

Rs 500

Rs 250

Mini  number of annual contributions

1

Not mandatory

Fund management charges

Charges are same for both Tier I and Tier II accounts

Requirement of Bank A/c

Not mandatory

Mandatory

Transfer of Fund between these two a/cs

Fund cannot be transferred from this a/c to Tier II a/c.

Funds can be transferred from this a/c to  Tier I a/c without any restriction.

Basic purpose of the A/c

To accumulate the corpus for buying an Annuity Plan for pension.

To manage surplus liquidity with the  subscribers.

When is the a/c  opened?

In the beginning  when the application is submitted for joining the NPS.

In the beginning along with Tier I a/c or at any time later.

 

How to join NPS?

PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) has appointed intermediaries knowns POPs (Point of Presence) who can open the NPS account. 

Gujarat Infotech Ltd is a one such Authorised POP where you can open NPS account.

Should you have any query, call at : 8448444245 

You can also open NPS account online & contribute online, get PRAN online. 

Disclaimer: The information given in the blog is only for general awareness and must not be construed as a professional advice. Readers are advised to consult the professionals in any subject matter of the blog before acting on the information discussed in the blog. The readers who are acting otherwise are doing so at their own risk.

(The comments from the readers are welcome at gnpatel@gujaratinfotech.com)

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