Net users need to be alert as cyber safety under threat, warn experts

NEW DELHI: Internet users need to be on their guard against online frauds and scamsters as cybersecurity remains under constant threat. This requires higher risk awareness and greater coordination through a concerted action among the government, enterprises, financial service providers and the public, experts said.

Speaking at the Times Verified session ‘Financial scams through social media and messaging: How to be safe?’, experts from various stakeholder groups said the cybersecurity apparatus remains vulnerable, and needs 24×7 vigil for users to be protected.

The session included experts like S S Sarma, director (operations) at the country’s cybersecurity agency CERT-In, Shalini Warrier, director & business head (retail) at Federal Bank, Ranjeeth Bellary, associate partner (forensic & integrity services) at EY India, and Amit Relan, co-founder & director at mFilterIt, which provides end-to-end ad-fraud detection and prevention services.

Speaking at the session, Warrier said “there is a fair level of control” over online financial crimes — despite increased threats — due to the work being done by regulators, law-enforcement agencies and banks. She said online fraudsters have been continuously innovating in terms of the nature & sophistication of scams and engage users by luring them into fake rewards programmes (lottery wins & inheritances), UPI malpractices, pension and jobs frauds, apart from other malpractices such as ransomware.

“From the standpoint of banks, cybersecurity is very high on the priority list. For example, 15-16% of Federal Bank’s annual technology budget is devoted to cybersecurity and security-related measures. ” CERT-In’s Sarma said internet frauds are constantly evolving, and cases have been rising due to higher online engagement of users. “We need more awareness campaigns, especially on the front of vernacular languages. ” mFilterIt’s Relan said technologies, such as AI and machine learning, are being deployed to track frauds and prevent recurrence.

“Out of advertisement budgets, about 12% to 14% of the spends are wasted in frauds… It needs a larger collaborative approach among ecosystem players like government, service providers and regulator, because both RBI and Trai would play an important role. ” EY’s Bellary said while security agencies and enterprises maintain a close vigil, consumers also have the responsibility of being alert against scamsters during online activities.