Fooling the fraud: With cyber crime on the rise, we speak to experts to share tips on dealing with fraudulent activities

With new online frauds tricking people, here are some ways that will help you deal with fraudulent activities

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Saturday, January 22, 2022, 09:38 PM IST
Photo: Pixabay

Digital advancement has given fraudsters new ammunition to target the vulnerable. In the WhatsApp fraud, the target receives a message saying the sender has found his number on contact. Scamsters gain information slowly for misuse. The Facebook fraud has a link from a friend – Is this you in the video? The account gets hacked after clicking on the link. It's time to know ways to deal with them.

Online frauds 

Shedding light on the situation, Niranjan Upadhye, General Manager, Fraud Risk Management Division, Worldline India, says, “Most frauds are Social Engineering frauds. After gaining your trust, fear or greed, fraudsters typically coax you for a ‘call to action’, something they’d like you to do. Once they manage to get you to do the same, they would exploit your weakness further by cajoling or coercing you.” Thus, despite a generally sorted infrastructural security, India faces peril in IT-related frauds thanks to user conduct.

There are talks about the hijacking, which has the attacker taking over communication between two entities. The attacker then mimics one of the entities. It is all done to gather information or become one of the users to conduct things that he or she normally does online. This is what Shibu Paul, Vice President, International Sales at Array Networks, has observed.

“Thieves use email to try to trick you into visiting a false website where you get told to reveal confidential information,” he reveals about Phishing. “There’s ‘Vishing’. Scammers utilise a phone number in phishing emails. A person or an automated response system will ask for your personal or account details if you call. One most prevalent attack is infecting a user’s computer with malicious software, or ‘Malware’. ‘Botnet’ refers to a network of robot computers. The use of malware disseminated via Botnet allows criminals to acquire sensitive data and possibly commit fraud.”

Many might have seen newer frauds on the horizon hitting millennials and Gen Z. Like dating site frauds, fun games around celebrity crushes, credit card renewal fee waivers, credit card blocked, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), Cryptocurrency, AnyDesk fraud, Covid related and fuel card frauds and paybacks.

Shridevi Wagh, Director, Macans Technologies, lays down facts. “Global cybercrime expenses are predicted to increase by 15% each year over the next five years, reaching US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from US$3 trillion in 2015. However, in 2021, the Indian cyber security market is expected to grow at 15.6% as compared to 9.5% in 2020. The market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 18.1% to $5.6 billion in the next five years. India needs to invest more in IT security.”

The preys

Despite continuous discussions, impatient and fast millennials and Gen Z fall short of taking precautions regarding source verification. Even the most highly educated are known to fall prey to these scams. The most vulnerable would be the elderly and first-generation technology users. This versatile and ever-changing trouble sees people of all sorts become victims to myriad scams and temptations.

Most of us are guilty of looking through the obvious signs of fraud that are in front of us. Upadhye is quite straightforward about this. “Even the most learned and rational people get carried away at the prospect of a lottery, inheritance left by an African dictator's widow, that dream job, which they always aspired for, or alliance with the prince or princess of their dreams. At times, it is simple coercion that appears to work for fraudsters.” Then there is the new-age attack coming with WFH culture. “With new domains and websites created to disseminate information and resources to combat Covid-19, attackers are taking advantage of the sites’ weak security to transmit malware via drive-by downloads,” Wagh adds. The fooling happens with hiding the malware within Covid-19 heat maps or early-warning programs. Once it is installed, the personal data gets collected by this malicious application.

These pandemic-related instances of cyber-security vulnerabilities include identity theft scams, remote working related vulnerabilities and fake products involving scam websites claiming to sell COVID-19 related items. She points out, “People are always living in the past or future rather than in the present.”

The tenfold rise in cyber frauds after the pandemic has been noticed by experts. Innovative methods have made things worse. Aditya Narang, Co-founder & CBO (Chief Business Officer), SafeHouse Technologies, mentions, “It is not only individuals that are at risk but companies too. Cybercriminals have been breaking into these companies' networks and stealing their customer data; this is our data and impacts us ‘the people’ the most.”

Ways to deal

With the rising threat to everyone, Narang feels prevention is the key. Updating software regularly is sound advice. “Try to use different passwords and stronger passwords. Switch meaningful passwords with a random yet memorable password. Make sure you change your passwords every three months. Download only verified software and applications from Android Play Store or IOS App Store.”

Staying away from unknown images, attachments from unknown SMS or emails probably is the oft-repeated advice that many disregard. Certain indicators or techniques ensure users recognise fraud instantly. This includes spelling problems, poor grammar and jumbled characters in the URL. Be aware of links asking for personal information. This is what Paul suggests.

He wants everyone to use decent antivirus software to protect the phone. “Keep your financial information safe. Unknown persons or sources should not get your date of birth, full name, or location, particularly where you or your family live. Finally, resist becoming greedy to protect yourself from such schemes. Only awareness and vigilance will protect you from such scams.”

Apart from examining the links for authenticity, staying away from calling the numbers from the link can be good for you according to Upadhye. He wants everyone to stay strong and not give in to any ransom. “If receiving an incoming payment through UPI, you do not have to input your PIN. You do that only when sending out a payment. Use legitimate and paid software and always keep it updated.”

With things in place, browsing online can be a fearless place for everyone.

Tip that matters

Here are certain tips that will never fail you.

1. Protect the WiFi network with stronger passwords

2. Fraudsters are always is in a hurry. Keep your own pace slow to understand it’s a fraud.

3. Never use public WiFi for banking or purchase transactions in public places.

4. Stay away from malvertising.

5. Using multifactor verification is better.

6. Using a VPN is an advantage, as it encrypts all the information to keep it safe. It also masks the IP address. Browse without being seen.

7. Secure devices with a mobile security application. Keep a password, gesture or fingerprint to unlock.

8. Users need to ignore any emails or messages that have threats of blocking or disabling anything important. They can also ignore messages regarding blocking SIM Cards unless KYC is completed via the link.

9. Be alert 24/7.

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