Hidden forces lurking online. Beware!

In this digital age, robbers are also keeping up with the times and swindling efficiently via cyber tools. We examine this phenomenon, and list steps you can take to avoid being conned.

Published: 16th May 2019 09:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2019 09:10 AM   |  A+A-

Fraud, Express illustrations

Image for representational purpose only.

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Booking movie tickets, paying utility bills, booking bus / train / flight tickets, paying at restaurants, online shopping. All these and more can be done from your smartphone. Incidentally, this makes for a lucrative target for hackers.

96 percent of individuals who were victims of fraud in 2018 had switched from cash and card payments to paying through mobile app, says a recent report by financial services company FIS. Interestingly, the study finds that 86 percent of Gen Xers and 79 percent of older consumers prefer to use mobile apps for most of their transactions, and adds that India is far ahead of US, UK and Germany in using mobile payment methods.

Another study by consulting firm KPMG says that over 78 percent of people were concerned about the theft or misuse of information through mobile apps. During a three-year period between 2015 to 2018, a whopping 680 percent increase in fraud transactions were observed from mobile applications, according to risk management firm RSA. It also points out that today, cybercriminals are developing their own apps to increase their anonymity, avoid detection and keep anti-fraud forces from tracking them down and exposing what they’re doing.

So what can you do to stave off the myriad threats lurking in numerous apps out there? Well, firstly, update your OS and apps without delay; next, check for permissions you’ve granted to your camera, microphone, etc. and revoke which are not needed. Another important aspect is to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. As far as possible, download only from Google Play Store and finally, install a good anti-virus on your smartphone.

All said and done, taking extra precaution in the online world, as we do in the physical world, helps in safeguarding your sensitive information. What say?

What is smishing?

Short form for “SMS phishing”, smishing uses fraudulent text messages that have links, which, when opened, install malware that can gather all the information on your smartphone.

What is social engineering?

It is the art of manipulating people into giving up confidential information. For example, someone might call you saying they are from UIDAI, and say they are doing a survey to verify if all your details are uploaded properly in the UIDAI database. They may ask you for your Aadhaar number, name, address, and mobile number. Based on this information, the attacker might call your bank and try to get all your account-related details!

What is phishing?

It is one of the most common forms of social engineering. For instance, you might receive an email from your bank that your password has expired, and that you must change it immediately by clicking on the link mentioned in the email. Once you click the link, you get redirected to what looks exactly like your bank’s website, but in reality, it’s not. The moment you enter your credentials, the hacker gets to know them and can swiftly empty your account.

How to protect yourself

Don’t open attachments from suspicious sources: If you don’t know the sender in question, you don’t need to open and answer an email. Even if you do know them and are suspicious about their message, cross-check and confirm the news from other sources, such as via telephone or directly from a service provider’s site.

Keep your antivirus software updated: Ensure that automatic updates are turned on. Run a full-system scan frequently for possible infections.

Always have your card in sight: At restaurants and other places, when you pay by card, insist on having it swiped in front of you. Be wary if the person takes your card and goes somewhere out of your sight to do the transaction! They might extract the magnetic stripe information and the 16-digit card number, which means, your card can be cloned and used without your knowledge!

Never share your PIN with strangers: For the sake of convenience, some people casually share their debit card PIN numbers with complete strangers at petrol bunks, restaurants, etc. This is injurious to your financial health!

Check your bank accounts regularly: Make it a point to check your account statement information regularly. If you see anything suspicious, call the bank immediately.

Things to watch out for

You might get an email saying that you’ve won `10 crore rupees in a lottery (which you never placed). Beware! If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

At the ATM, if you see signs of tampering near the screen, card reader or keyboard, including loose keys, small cameras in the vicinity of the ATM, etc., it probably is recording all your keystrokes.

Always be suspicious when someone over the phone asks any kind of financial details from you; the conmen may say they are from the Income Tax department, or may even pose as cops investigating a cybercrime!

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