About 20% Indians claim to be victims of phishing attacks, according to Microsoft Computing Safer Index, a study that reveals impact of poor online safety behaviour.
Released on account of the Safer Internet Day on February 11, the study claims that 12% of Indians surveyed say they have suffered identity theft at an average cost of Rs 7,500.
The survey was carried out among 10,500 consumers globally in the March-May 2013 period. It asked consumers to share their online experiences.
According to the survey, the annual worldwide impact of phishing and other forms of identity theft could be as high as $5 billion, while the cost of repairing damage to people’s online reputation was at nearly $6 billion.
The internet touches our daily lives for almost everything, from communicating, to work, to shopping to paying bills, says Prakash Kumar, national technology office, Microsoft India.
“But how cautious are we about monitoring our online presence, and taking note of our own vulnerabilities? There are many things that can be done to stay safer online,” says Kumar.
Microsoft asks netizens to protect their online activities by visiting websites that provide a range of hints and guidance for guarding devices, online accounts, performing sensitive transactions over secured networks, taking charge of online reputation and protecting social circles.
In Bangalore, collegemates Adithya Naresh and Yogesh S, students from the Amrita School of Engineering have started a hackers club in their college called Hacs (hackers for applied cyber security).
“The objective is to expose our classmates and juniors to the scope of cyber security and create awareness. We also intend to hold a techfest in this segment early next year,” say Adithya and Yogesh.
Tips to stay safe online
Use a unique four-digit PIN for mobile devices and strong passwords for online accounts.
Perform sensitive transactions over secured networks. This includes paying bills, banking or shopping.
Take charge of your online reputation. Know what information about you is on the internet, reevaluate it, remove unwanted content.
Protect your social circles. Use privacy settings to manage the information you share and with whom you share it. Be selective about what you post and accepting friends.
What is phishing?
Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masking as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications from social websites, auction sites, banks, online payment processors are commonly used to lure unsuspecting people.
India faces 1,200 phishing attacks each month, as per industry estimates, while globally, 1.25 lakh phishing attacks were identified in the third quarter of 2013. Losses owing to phishing globally were about $1.66 billion.
Taking serious steps towards setting up a strong cyber security strategy, the central government in July declared its first National Cyber Security Policy, aimed at creating five lakh professionals by 2015.
Currently, there are only about 556 trained cyber security personnels in the government sector in India, as per KPMG estimates. This is minuscule compared with 1.25 lakh in China, and 91,080 in the US.