In today’s rapidly advancing digital age, where technology has become an integral part of our lives, the threat of cyber crimes looms large. Cyber crimes refer to criminal activities committed using computers or the internet, often with the intent to deceive, manipulate, or exploit unsuspecting individuals or organizations. These crimes encompass a wide range of illicit activities, such as hacking, identity theft, financial fraud, data breaches, and online scams.
The incident that unfolded on that fateful summer day in 2019 at the Civil Lines Branch of Punjab National Bank in Allahabad exemplifies the devastating impact of cybercrime on individuals and their hard-earned savings. The man, a diligent daily wage earner who toiled under the scorching heat to provide for his family, fell victim to a fraudulent scheme that targeted his life savings. His trust in the banking system was shattered when he discovered that Rs.70,000, which represented his blood, sweat, and tears, had vanished into untraceable accounts. Alas! It couldn’t be recovered. Around Rs. 100 crore has been lost to cyber fraud every day over the last seven years, according to a report by Times of India.
With rising globalization, technology has taken up almost all aspects of human life. From posting everything online to making our payments at the Kirana store, technology has it.
Digitalitalization has taken a toll on our banking systems too. Nowadays where online transaction platforms have made it extremely convenient and gave a boost to capital and monetary flows, they sure come with a lot of risk too. The advent of cyber crimes in the financial market has been at an all-time high. Scammers loot unsuspicious customers of money worth a billion dollars. These hackers sitting behind their screens deprive people of their hard-earned money over their lifetime while their balance turns into Rs 0. E-commerce losses due to payment fraud are anticipated to increase by 131% from 2022 to 2027.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF CYBER CRIMES-
While there are a lot of different types of cyber frauds here we take a look at some-
- PHISHING ATTACKS- Phishing attacks, the most prevalent online scam perpetrated by fraudsters and hackers, involve the sending of text messages, emails, and other messaging applications. These deceptive messages, resembling official correspondence, are received by individuals, who, upon clicking on them, unknowingly grant the scammers access to their devices and personal information putting their extremely valued privacy at risk. These scammers evaluate the data while drilling thoroughly through the important ones.
- FAKE IDENTITY FRAUDS- The increased adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) has contributed to the rise in instances where fraudsters employ AI to mimic people’s voices and appearances. This growing trend poses a significant obstacle for businesses in the authentication of genuine identities leading to increased cyber crimes. By utilizing social engineering techniques, scammers can exploit compromised data to validate their identities, employing methods such as generating new profiles using forged documents, cloning voices, or manipulating facial images.
- PHARMING ATTACKS- Another type of phishing-related fraud is known as man-in-the-middle or pharming attacks. In this scheme, the scammer positions themselves between the targeted individual and a legitimate institution. The fraudster aims to obtain sensitive information such as login credentials or other personal details by intercepting the victim’s communication or redirecting them to a fraudulent website. Being a massive breach of one’s privacy, this fraud can be particularly detrimental as it often remains undetected until significant harm has already been inflicted.
- FAKE WEBSITES- Another very common way to defraud people is by using fake websites of famous financial institutions. Hackers create websites that look similar to the original website and offer lucrative offers to victims to buy financial products. However, one needs to be vigilant to differentiate between fake and original websites. Generally, genuine websites have a secure domain, and their URLs start with ‘HTTPS’ and not ‘HTTP’
- UPI FRAUDS- The advent of UPI transactions in India brought about a significant revolution in digital payments. Unfortunately, fraudsters quickly adjusted to this new landscape and devised multiple methods to commit these cyber frauds. These fraudulent activities related to UPI encompass a range of tactics, including disguising collect requests as counterfeit cashback offers and QR codes, as well as creating spoofed Virtual Payment Addresses (VPAs) for false refunds, disaster support, and other deceptive purposes. These UPI-related scams pose a significant threat to the payment ecosystem in India.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THESE CYBER CRIMES?
There are several ways people can adopt to save themselves from these crimes. Here are a few-
1. Spreading awareness by organizing campaigns on cyber fraud and disseminating it through media like TV, Radio, etc.
2. Setting up strong passwords for our online bank accounts and changing them every 180 days maximum to ensure privacy, as directed by the RBI.
3. Avoid sharing one’s OTP, bank, and card details or clicking on random websites or click baits.
4. Strengthening cyber security laws and the legal system which works promptly.
5. Monitoring one’s transactions from time to time and getting our respective UPI apps updated regarding the same.
6. Logging out of bank accounts when done on any device. Logged-in accounts are a treat for hackers.
7. One should never download and install applications from unknown sources.
8. Reaching out to the bank in case of cyber fraud.
Through these steps, we can assure the safety of our data as well as our bank accounts leading to a fraud-free world.
In conclusion, the rising tide of cyber crimes demands our unwavering attention and proactive engagement. We must recognize the potential dangers that lurk in the digital realm and take steps to fortify our defences. By staying informed, practising good cybersecurity habits, and fostering a culture of vigilance, we can navigate the online landscape with greater resilience and protect ourselves from falling victim to cybercriminals. Let us unite in the face of this ever-evolving threat, empowering ourselves and our communities with the knowledge and awareness needed to ensure a safer digital future for all.
– Bhawini Srivastava