Consumers in India may be increasingly becoming aware of the cyber threats they face but their online behaviour is often contradictory and puts them at risk to ransomware, malware and attacks from cyber criminals, according to a latest report from Norton by Symantec. Norton released its annual Norton Cyber Security Insights Report today and its India findings show that while consumers here love public Wi-Fi, they don’t fully understand the accompanying risks.
Norton has surveyed over 20,000 people — over a 1,000 from India — for this report. According to Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager, Norton by Symantec, two key points emerged from the report. “On the one hand, cybercriminals are honing their skills, on the other consumers continue to remain complacent about data security. In our survey, we saw that a majority of people knew they must protect their online information. But then, we also saw that many devices were unprotected, say without a password, putting them at risk to ransomware, malware, etc,” says Chopra.
Norton’s Survey shows that millennials — nearly 34 per cent — are particularly slack when it comes to online security and are happy to share passwords that compromise their online safety. “One of the reasons for this is that people choose convenience over security. They also believe there’s nothing risky in their online behaviour. There’s also an attitude of ‘who will want my data?’ Many people think they are not important enough or not interesting enough for cyber criminals to attack their personal data,” points out Norton’s Country Manager.
This lax behaviour also explains why Indians are increasingly falling prey to ransomware. According to Norton’s report, nearly one in three (33 per cent) Indians have either experienced ransomware themselves or know someone who has. Worryingly, 27 per cent of these victims actually paid ransom to gain access to their files. According to Chopra, the ransom is either paid in bitcoins or bank account transfers, but he points out that this is also no guarantee that people will get their files back.
“Awareness and education is really important, especially in a country like ours. We will have a lot of first-generation Internet users who might not understand the full risks and vulnerabilities associated with going online. The rule is that you bring your learning around safety from the real world into the virtual world as well. If I as a user leave the door open for hackers, then the onus is on me,” points out Chopra.
The other area where Indians end up compromising their cyber security is in their love for public Wi-Fi. Interestingly the survey showed that while people who experienced cyber-crime within the past year were more likely to be concerned about the security of their home Wi-Fi network (79 per cent vs 70 per cent non-victims), yet this same group of victims was less likely to password protect their home Wi-Fi network than non-victims (28 per cent vs 10 per cent of non-victims have unprotected networks).
The survey also showed that only 56 per cent of consumers knew how to determine whether the Wi-Fi network they are using is secure. When it comes to public WiFi, one in four (27 per cent) regularly use public connections, like at airports and coffee shops.
According to Chopra, people in India admit they send emails, documents, social media on public Wi-Fi, and are unaware of the risks. While 45 per cent using VPN regularly on public Wi-Fi, the rest don’t, which leaves them vulnerable to hackers. “Interestingly, most people in the survey have WiFi at home, and yet many leave their WiFi unprotected without a password. What we’re seeing is a contradictory behaviour from people. They are worried about data loss, privacy and security, and yet are okay installing an app which will give them access to, say public WiFi, which is dangerous behaviour,” says Chopra.
According to Norton, Indian consumers need to change their online habits in order to escape cyber crime. Safe practices include strong unique passwords, not clicking on unsolicited messages or attachments, especially from strangers, backing up important data and files and keeping them encrypted to make them inaccessible to hackers. Norton also suggests using VPN when on public Wi-Fi networks.