The festive season is around the corner, and so is the phase of the year when most families in India go on a shopping spree. However, the fervor of a few is often marred due to the concerns around cybersecurity. While individuals are definitely more prone to such threats, recent reports suggest that more than 75% of Indian companies too are prone to cyber threats during festive season. We decided to consult a few experts from the world of finance to find out as to what individuals as well as small businesses must do to minimize the prospects of cyberthreat.
“Our financial accounts are at risk from many digital threats. As long as we are vigilant and aware of how to protect ourselves from threats, we can rest assured that our money and assets are protected. Convenience and accessibility are some of the benefits of bringing our finances online. In addition, it also raises the possibility of our accounts becoming compromised by cybercriminals and hacking attempts. We should be aware of the threats posed by Malware/Ransomware, Malicious Bots, and Phishing when it comes to our financial safety,” said Linson C Paul, CTO, Muthoot Microfin Ltd, the microfinance arm of the Muthoot Pappachan Group.
He further said, “An attack on our financial security can be frightening, especially when it involves our personal information. Working with reputable, trustworthy financial service providers is the first and most important step in protecting our finances digitally. Keep our Password Clues Private, Always Use Verified Apps and Trusted App Stores, Stay Away From Phishing Emails, and Enable Multi-Factor Authentication on the Internet. Cyberattacks are one of the biggest threats to the safety of your finances. It's not hard to boost our Internet safety practices and ensure the information is safe by following the best practices in each area.”
Experts also believe that the key to cybersecurity is informed consumers. According to Balaji Jagannathan, the co-founder and Director of recurring payment solution provider Paycorp, explains that “the festive season traditionally witnesses a spike in spending, driven mostly by a slew of offers and discounts. It is in the course of this increased spending that consumers often fall prey to traps laid by scamsters, and if such cases are taken into account cumulatively, they create major security concerns for the IT infrastructure of a financial institution. Therefore, informed consumers constitute the first line of defence, not just for themselves, but also for financial institutions, as their awareness level can mitigate the threats from the beginning itself. Talking about businesses specifically, there needs to be different layers of protection, wherein the behaviour and legitimacy of any query/transaction could be identified. Keeping the infrastructure up to date is the way to safeguard a company's as well as its customers' interests.”
Similar is the sentiment of Karunya Sampath, the co-founder and CEO of Payoda, a pioneer in the technology space that has worked with over 100 companies including an eGovernance project in India, who adds that a proactive approach is what is needed on the part of individuals as well as businesses. She said, “It is essential ahead of the festive season that both individuals and businesses take proactive steps to minimize the possibility of a cyber threat. The first and foremost step to take in this regard is to know what you currently own and where you have invested. Tools like NSDL-CAS statements and MFCentral can help individuals by aggregating all their holdings across stocks and Mutual funds to provide a consolidated view. Thereafter comes the role of multi-factor authentication wherein you need to implement multi-factor authentication on all your accounts. Be it bank accounts, trading accounts or mutual funds, it’s important to secure these with MFA.
“Also, avoid getting carried away and think before you click, for more than 90% of successful cyber-attacks start with a phishing email. It is equally important to use strong passwords, and if feasible a password manager to generate and store unique passwords. Lest we forget, respect updates and as a matter of fact, update your software regularly. Whether it's a phone or your personal computer, updating the software is quite essential and important to keep the threat actors at bay. It's recommended to turn on automatic updates,” she adds.