‘Over 50 pc netizens neglect basic cyber safety practices’

Monday, 17 February 2020

“Safer Internet Day provides us with an opportunity to examine our online behaviour and emphasises on the need to close the gap in digital literacy in general and cyber safety in particular." said Lavanya Chandan

PUNE: A study by C2C online marketplace OLX on cyber safety has revealed alarming facts about the state of awareness of internet users in India. The study was conducted on February 11, 2020, when Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally. 

OLX studied the behaviour of close to 7,500 netizens between the age groups of 18-55 to understand the state of awareness and cyber safety preparedness, thereby raising the need towards creating a safer and inclusive internet for everyone. The survey reveals a startling gap in digital literacy and cyber safety practices exercised by the netizens. 

“Safer Internet Day provides us with an opportunity to examine our online behaviour and emphasises on the need to close the gap in digital literacy in general and cyber safety in particular. Cyber safety is a shared responsibility where internet users, internet companies, government and decision-makers are all in one ecosystem. This study has been devised to study these gaps in order to address the same in the coming time,” said Lavanya Chandan, General Counsel, OLX India.

Overall, the survey indicates that even though we have come far in digital transformation in our daily lives, the majority of people prefer to transact offline and even if they do transact online, they do it for money transfer, online shopping and paying utility bills. Only 48 per cent of the people surveyed would want to report the fraud if they were defrauded and they accept having missed exercising basic precautionary measures like not sharing personal and confidential information publicly or reading safety privacy tips and terms on websites and apps. 

52 per cent of respondents have publicly shared their phone numbers/personal addresses online while 26 per cent have admitted to sharing sensitive OTPs (one-time passwords) with others. The remaining 22 per cent of respondents admit to sharing bank account passwords, UPI pin, credit & debit card details with others.

73 per cent of respondents said they actively skipped the terms and conditions/safety-legal guidelines owing to the fact they were cumbersome to read and too complex to understand. 

Only 27 per cent admitted to actively reading them prior to signing up for online platforms or services.

Unsurprisingly, 66 per cent of these respondents have been victims of online financial frauds with spamming and phishing attacks combined together to form a trio of the most common forms of online frauds faced by netizens in India. 

While online payments have gained mainstream popularity, 51 per cent of respondents have expressed confidence in making payments offline versus using any digital means (mobile wallets, cards, UPI). 

Most common types of new-age online frauds perpetrated by cyber fraudsters are UPI fraud, QR code scan fraud and social engineering frauds.

Contradictory to this overall neglect that netizens show towards cyber safety measures, there exists a high level of cybersafety awareness towards certain internet behaviours. 

Admitting the inevitable need for public and private institutions to work jointly in safeguarding the netizens, 50 per cent of the respondents listed collaboration between public & private institutions, a better approach by the law enforcement authorities towards affected complainants and better user education as a remedy to the malaise of cyber fraud. 

While there exists a rising level of adoption for digital payment instruments with 61 per cent of respondents across metros and non-metros making online payments more than 5 times a month yet 51 per cent of respondents feel more comfortable transacting offline than online.  

Respondents from metro cities are more likely to share their personal details online versus their non-metro counterparts. 

Low levels of awareness towards responsible usage of open, public and unsecured WiFi networks is reflected more prominently in non-metros than metros.

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