With the government’s move to demonetize high-value currency notes in early November also came a push towards digital transactions. According to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the volume of smaller value transactions, largely represented by modes like Point of Sale (PoS), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Immediate Payment Servic (IMPS) and mobile e-wallets saw a strong growth. Even though all electronic transactions’ combined value saw a growth of over 10%, the volume growth was in excess of 42%, indicating that various small value transactions were made through digital channels.
While the shift towards less-cash is encouraging, there remains an aspect of vulnerability when it comes to digital transactions. “The convenience that digital payments have brought to an individual is massive. On the other hand, there is a cost in the form of risks. So the consumers need to be informed and educated about being intelligent in their usage,” said Saket Modi, co-founder and chief executive officer at Lucideus Tech, an IT risk assessment and digital security services provider. At this juncture, it is important for consumers to know the dos and don’ts when it comes to safety of information while transacting digitally. It is imperative to understand that large-scale adoption of digital transactions also attracts cyber criminals who wait for opportune moments to exploit a system’s vulnerabilities.
Types of frauds to be aware of
Cyber security experts are of the opinion that with the use of online payment platforms, the fraudulent use of payment networks and data theft has also gone up. “While people are getting comfortable with mobile wallets and banking through apps and smartphones, Wi-Fi networks continue to have major security flaws that can make it very dangerous to conduct transactions using mobile devices,” said Amit Nath, head of Asia-Pacific (corporate business) F-Secure, a cyber security company.
Following are the major types of risks that you should be aware of:
Malware: These are specifically designed applications and programs that compromise the security of mobile phones and computers. It gives cyber criminals access to devices, and hence also to sensitive consumer data. Therefore, download and install applications only from authentic sources and that too from developers having a good reputation.
Phishing: In this case, the user is trapped using fake emails or websites and is made to enter account-related sensitive information. Those who are new to the world of electronic transactions are more prone to such traps. Do not click on attractive or suspicious links that you get through SMSs or emails.
Public networks: Using a public network can expose your mobile device and information to cyber criminals. Avoid doing digital transactions on public computers and networks like a cyber cafe or a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Ransomware: In this security issue, the hacker gains remote access to the device as well as the data of the victims, and can block access to the device until a sum of money is received.
There are also other forms of cyber attacks where cyber criminals look for vulnerabilities within a technology and turn it to their advantage. “Some of these security breaches are much harder to detect and can only be identified using advanced security systems,” said Rajat Mohanty, chief executive officer, Paladion Networks, a cyber security firm.
What should you do?
“There is nothing called 100% secure. Anyone who says that their system is 100% watertight neither understands technology nor risk management. You can only manage and minimize the risk,” Modi said. At the institutional level, mechanisms have been put in place for constant monitoring of the systems. Certainly, more needs to be done. “When a customer makes a purchase (online), the business loses control of a large portion of the transaction interaction as customers use a variety of devices, operating systems and browsers to access e-commerce sites,” said Rana Gupta, vice-president, Asia-Pacific, identity and data protection, Gemalto, a digital security firm.