Although cyber fraud was on the rise even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the surge in digital transactions and reliance on online mediums for transacting ever since have further accelerated this disturbing trend.
The most common instances of cyber fraud include theft of funds and/or identity, email spoofing, cyberstalking, virus attacks, denial of service (DOS) attacks, and unauthorised online transactions. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), cyber crimes in India have risen by 306% between 2016 to 2020 and averaged 136 cybercrime cases per day in the year of the pandemic. What’s more is that nearly 66% of the cases registered each year were pending investigation due to the volume of cybercrimes, putting the onus on each netizen to safeguard oneself from such cybercrimes. Let us look at important precautionary steps, which if taken, can reduce the chances of falling prey to such malicious activity while connected to the internet.
Update your devices with anti-virus
The most important habit to maintain is to secure all computing devices that are connected to the internet with the latest anti-virus software. While most devices come with free software, they are often applicable for a limited period and should be updated before the validity is expired.
Know tactics used by cybercriminals
More often than not, cybercriminals or hackers usually target devices connected to public Wi-Fi systems or individuals visiting unsecured/unsafe/unknown websites. It is recommended that you always verify the website’s security before visiting them, especially when being redirected to them through an email or SMS link. In the case of mobile devices, certain behaviour such as unfamiliar applications being downloaded automatically, higher battery consumption or even an unusual surge in data consumption are indications that the device has been compromised.
Report any instance of cyber fraud instantaneously
In the scenario where you are convinced that you have been a victim of a cybercrime, immediately report the incident on the national helpline 155260 or 1930, which has been set up by the Government of India to prevent financial loss due to cyber fraud. Alternatively, you can report the incident on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (www.cybercrime.gov.in). These steps can mitigate risks of data, information, or financial loss in the case of fraud.
Protect yourself with cyber insurance
While the above steps are the basic precautions that can be taken by all individuals, it is worth opting for cyber insurance in order to protect yourself against all expenses and liabilities that are imminent post any cyber-attack.
With digital transformation on the rise and the increase in sophisticated cyber frauds, more stringent processes and protocols are required to be followed in order to be financially protected from cyber losses.
(The writer is the chief technical officer of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance)