As government and financial firms in India promote cashless transactions seven months after the revolutionary demonetisation of the two major bills in the country, global cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab urged for a major beefing up of online defences of consumers and banks against hackers.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in November last year the termination of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi series to eradicate the use of black money which reportedly funds terrorism and illegal activities in India.
The demonetisation led to the increased numbers of paperless transactions in the country, which also opened more opportunities for money-hungry attackers.
“The long queues on ATM machines and the shortage in currency bills resulted to the rise of the more convenient use of digital payments and electronic wallets. While transacting money online is indeed easier compared to the traditional method, it is more dangerous too. It’s a well-known fact that hackers are almost always motivated by money, and the growth of a cashless economy in India would attract their attention, undoubtedly,” warns Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director at Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific.
The results of Kaspersky Cybersecurity Index for the second half of 2016 revealed the top internet activity in India is online shopping. This is followed by emailing, watching movies, and using social media sites.
Almost all (96 per cent) of the respondents admitted to using the internet in purchasing goods online. A great majority of the them (84 per cent) also use their devices in banking and in paying online through digital wallets.
Kaspersky Lab’s data for 2016 also showed users from India are among the most attacked by banking malware, along with those from Russia, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the United States.
“It is a must for consumers, banks, and the government to work together in beefing up India’s cybersecurity defences to safeguard money online. Like constructing a sturdy fortress, securing payment networks, banking systems, and the internet itself requires a brick-by-brick approach. In this case, the bricks are the highly-cybersavvy users and the efficient cybersecurity solutions. Lack of either can create a vulnerability that cyber attackers are waiting for and willing to exploit,” explains Neumeier.
“To help more users in India achieve a safer and more secure online banking and shopping experience, we are launching a promo ‘Secure Your Online Transactions’ where Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security will be at 25 per cent off starting June 29 until August 15, 2017,” said Altaf Halde, Managing Director, Kaspersky Lab South Asia.
To help online users in ensuring the safety of their transactions via the internet, Kaspersky Lab security experts suggest the following basic security tips:
- Don’t assume links are genuine. When you need to visit an online bank, a retailer or a payment website, you should manually type in the URL — instead of clicking on a link.
- Beware of fake communications. Most financial organizations will never send emails asking customers to: send personal data in an email, visit their site for authorization, or enter personal data in pop-up windows.
- Check the URL. When you’re visiting a web page that needs you to enter confidential data, carefully check that the address of the page that’s shown on the browser corresponds with the page that you are intending to access. If the URL is made up of a random selection of letters and numbers — or it looks suspicious — do not input any information.
- Use encryption. Make sure that you use an encrypted connection, whenever you need to input any confidential data. If a connection is secure, the URL will start with the letters “https” and the address bar or the browser’s status bar will display a small icon of a lock.
- Use your own computer — and your own Internet connection. Try to avoid using public computers — in Internet cafes, airports, clubs, hotels, libraries or other locations — when you need to access online banking services or online retailers. These public computers may have a variety of spyware programs running on them, which could record everything you type on the keyboard — including your passwords — and also intercept Internet traffic. Even if you use your own computer for online transactions, you need to avoid connecting to the Internet via a public Wi-Fi network. On a public Wi-Fi network, there is a risk that the traffic might be intercepted by the network’s administrator or by cybercriminals — and attacks might be launched with network worms.
- Don’t use your main credit card or debit card. You might benefit from having a special card that you only use for online purchases. It may be possible to restrict the credit limit for your “online credit card” or to hold a limited amount of money on your “online debit card”.
- Be wary of potentially untrustworthy sites. It can be a good idea to avoid buying from retailers that have websites that are registered with free hosting services.
- Get additional information about the website. If you have any doubts or suspicions about a retailer’s website, use a ‘WhoIs’ IP service in order to find out more information about the domain — including how long it has been in use and who owns it. Note the period of time for which the domain has been paid.
- Eliminate vulnerabilities — in your operating system and applications. Always ensure that the operating system — and all applications — on your computer and other devices have the latest updates installed. This will help eliminate operating system and application vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious software programs and attacks. Windows OS products are often targets of vulnerabilities so be sure you're secure whether you are running the newest OS, XP, or Windows 7, security is essential.
- Maintain your firewall. For additional security, instead of just running a standard firewall, you may choose to run application and software-based firewalls.
- Protect against malware and Internet security risks. A rigorous anti-malware solution can protect you against computer viruses, worms, Trojan viruses and more. Some anti-malware products also include special technologies that provide additional layers of security when you’re using online shopping and banking websites.
Kaspersky Total Security is equipped with two key features, Secure Connection and Safe Money, which help in safeguarding online transactions. Secure Connection decrypts all data sent and received through a network which results to a safer internet connection while Safe Money is a functionality which verifies if the site is genuine and protects all transferred financial information against data theft.