83% of Indian consumers concerned about identity theft, says report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 26, 2020

Identity theft is one of the biggest security concerns in India, according to Unisys’ Global Security Index 2020.

The Unisys Security Index focused on consumer security is an aggregated index based on the average of consumers’ concerns about safety in these areas such as national, personal, financial and internet security. The security firm ad surveyed 15,699 adult residents aged between 18-64 years of age in 15 markets.

Of the 15 countries surveyed, India had recorded the second-highest level of overall security concern. Identity theft was the top security concern amid Indian consumers with 83 per cent of people concerned about the issue.

“The good news is there is much awareness in India, India actually rates second-highest on the scale with a score of 223 on average. The Indian consumers are concerned about security in Covid-19 circumstances because everybody's working from home. They are even more concerned about identity thefts, credit cards, debit cards because a lot of online transactions are going on. Identity theft is the top security concern in India right now,” Sumed Marwaha, the Regional Services Vice President and Managing Director for Unisys India told BusinessLine.

Hacking and bank frauds other major concerns

Apart from Identity theft, consumers were also concerned about virus/hacking, bank card fraud and online transactions when it comes to data security. Eighty-two per cent of respondents were worried about both hacking/viruses and online shopping.

“With online shopping and remote working becoming more prevalent during 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, 71% of Indians are concerned about the risk of a data or security breach while working remotely, and 72% are concerned about being scammed during or about a health crisis,” the report said.

Despite 71 per cent of Indians being concerned about data security and privacy while working remotely, they seemed to be willing to share data with the government. As per the report, 73 per cent of the respondents were willing to share data on their travel habits with the government to get through airport security quickly. Indian consumers were also receptive to a mobile app with facial recognition to enable government agencies to update contact details, the report said.

Developing nations more worried about data security

Concerns among Indian consumers are prevalent as cybersecurity measures are yet to catch up in developing countries.

“Developing nations have evolved and have embraced technology a lot sooner,” Marwaha said.

“Government is going through the same, but it takes some time for them to mature that law, over a period of time during the day, but because you're going through that process, I think it's just taking a little bit of time. And that's why the security concerns a lot more in the developing nation,” he said.

“We are leapfrogging in a number of areas like mobile smartphone, adoption, etc. But, unfortunately, the regulatory framework has still not caught up with us,” said Seshadri PS, Senior Director - Governance, Risk and Compliance, Office of the CISO, Unisys India.

Addressing security concerns has to be split into three parts- individual, business and government Sheshadri added.

“I am a big believer on basics, I think simple things like you know, making sure your password management is well protected, you're changing your password if your password is strong, you know simple things like making sure your router passwords are not in factory settings, you really go and change it so that nobody can do a network sniffing right. People have to be very wary in terms of you know, what links they're going to go and click,” Sheshadri said.

“Companies really have to be able to make sure that the secure. We're looking at things like zero trust technologies, where you're, you know, always, you know, having direct access to an application through an encrypted channel,” he added.

“Cyberworld is becoming more and more sophisticated. They're using advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence. So really, how do you build a resilient organization? And what does resilience mean? If I really get head, how do I respond and recover in the short term and get back to work? That’s another aspect,” he further added.

Globally, apart form internet security, concerns related to natural disasters health have also seen a spike as per the index.

As per the survey, 62 per cent of respondents were worried about natural disasters as compared to 54 per cent last year while 58 per cent were worried about personal safety, an increase from 49 per cent last year.

“Consumers are more concerned by natural disasters such as pandemics this year, which rose to third place in security threats from 7th place in 2019,” the report said,

“Family health is the no.1 concern for Indians in a health crisis like Covid-19, followed by the country’s economic stability and healthcare infrastructure,” it added.

The surveys were conducted between March 16 and April 5, 2020.

Published on June 26, 2020

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