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Stay safe from cyber fraud and data leaks

What’s happening here?

Take a look at the statistics on data leaks in 2020-21,  they look staggering and the list included names big and small from PM Modi’s personal website Narendra Modi.in to IRCTC to Bigbasket to the recent ones like Upstox, Mobikwik to Dominos. A digital monitoring firm estimates that 15 billion credentials are for sale since the time pandemic struck us. Cybercrimes caused 1.25 lakh crore losses to business in 2019. 

How does data leak or cyber frauds affect you?

From demonetization to the pandemic, digital payments, have got a great boost. The advantages are evident – Convenience, safety and they are more accessible. The scare of the virus spreading through banknotes has helped digital payments spread gain further ground.

While the convenience and the other benefits are undeniable, the dark side of digital payments and transactions is the possibility of data leaks and cyber frauds. 

What is the difference between the two – you may ask? 

In simple terms 

  • Data Leaks  – These are instances where large amounts of data on personal information like name, phone numbers, Aadhaar numbers, credit card details, etc are extracted from a business. 
  • Cyber Fraud –  These are instances of an individual being frauded through emails, SMSes, or on the internet. (Remember those emails or SMS from a wealthy XYZ  interested in donating their inheritance to you or those asking you to share your OTP?) 

Data is not just the new oil, but it is the new nuclear power said an article portraying the power of data. There are numerous ways in which anyone can use your data right from siphoning off funds from your account, use your identity (personal information) for unintended purposes, etc. 

Does the law protect you against data leaks and fraud in India?

Information Security Act 2020 is the primary law in India that deals with e-commerce and cyber fraud. However, experts say that the law defines cybersecurity only as lip service to the cybersecurity legal framework. The act is old and is hardly equipped to deal with new-age cyber issues like phishing, cyberbullying, hacking, spying, etc There is a new law that is on the cards, that aims to tackle these issues. 

Until then, you will have to act within the provisions of this law. You could report instances of cybercrimes/frauds at Cyber Cells or your local police stations and get an FIR. However, there are limited examples of conviction or complaint resolutions as the crime could be committed from anywhere in the world. 

For data leaks, businesses are responsible for safeguarding your data. The consequences of not doing so are not very clear. Mobikwik, whose 8.2 Terabytes of data were exposed in the dark web, kept refuting data leak claims until RBI ordered a forensic audit of Mobikwik’s data system. 

How should protect yourself from data frauds and leaks?

The delicate situation that we are in, cybercriminals are trying to exploit the vulnerability of individuals in distress. There are several frauds around vaccines, Covid reports, donations, fleecing money for beds/oxygen, etc. So it makes it more relevant for you to pay attention to your digital transactions. 

Some simple pointers can help you 

Download apps only from verified sources like the Playstore or the Appstore. Never share your OTP or sensitive credentials like Aadhaar details, PAN, credit card CVV, or mobile number with unknown individuals. Double-check links or emails, make sure they are spelled correctly/ When you are doing online transactions, look for the extra S at the end of HTTPS://. Do not give out your personal details like date of birth, mobile number online on unknown platforms. The use of two-factor authentication while making transactions can be helpful. 

 If you are a business that stores your customer data, be doubly sure of your security systems. 

So stay safe digitally and physically! 

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