How to stay safe from cyber threats during digital payment transactions

Satyajit Kanekar, Co-founder & CEO, Mobileware Technologies

India has seen exponential growth in digital payments in recent times. The shift from cash to cashless has been phenomenal, even though not seamless. People from across India, including Tier II and III cities, have made the switch and adopted mobile banking or e-wallets through Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Aadhaar-enabled Payments System (AePS), Internet Banking, and various other options available. That has raised the bar in the fintech industry and provided an extra layer of transparency to the transaction chain. However, it has also added to the tension for consumers because of the rise in security threats, data breaches, and cyberattacks. Whether physical transactions were safer or not, is another topic for discussion, but digital vigilance is necessary.

Here we will discuss the importance of cyber security in digital payments and list a few ways to remain cyber smart.

Digital payments are here to stay

A recent report suggests that the Indian digital payments industry is set to grow up to $700 billion by 2022. Another data from the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) mentioned that in October digital payment transactions worth $100 billion were recorded through UPI. These figures are indicators that digital transactions are here for the long haul. The different financial schemes started by the NPCI, especially during the lockdown phase, have fueled the adoption of digital payments in the country.

Also Read: PhonePe unveils Pulse, a new website for data, insights on digital payments

The majority of Indians have proactively adopted digital banking and switched their payment methods with digital. The quantum of usage has expanded with easy online shopping, online education, online banking facilities, to name a few.

The internet is an open platform

India has been a cash-driven economy for decades, and the shift to digital has not been easy. Lack of digital literacy and awareness maximized the risk levels. Being online increases the risk of being vulnerable. The Parliament informed that over 2.9 lakh digital banking-related cyber security incidents were reported in 2020 and happened in various forms like phishing, ransomware attacks, cyber espionage, distributed denial of service (DDoS), viruses, spoofing, website hacking and some other techniques. Throughout the pandemic, hackers used innovative ways to play with people’s emotions and vulnerable situations. From sending fraudulent messages offering COVID-19 medical assistance and payments to selling fake oximeters, COVID drugs, and oxygen cylinders to even conducting vaccine tourism, they did not miss any opportunity to scam people. The Cyber Cell of Delhi Police, during the second wave, recovered money that is estimated to be in crores.

Best practices to minimize security threats

Like all other activities over the Internet, digital transactions are also susceptible to attacks that can compromise your security and privacy. To avoid being in such situations, we are suggesting a few steps that will help you stay safe from cyber threats while making digital payments.

Personal Safety Measures:

● Always use only personal devices and networks when making online payments.
● Never open attachments from unknown sources.
● Always keep a check on your financial statements and spot inconsistencies.

Password safety measures:

● Always use one-time passwords.
● Try to regularly change passwords and don’t reuse old passwords.

Payment authentication safety measure:

● Always use two-factor authentication for transactions.
● Trying opting for a biometric authentication process.
● Avoid saving card details on different websites.

Technical safety measures:

● Always work with vendors that are PCI DSS compliant.
● Always check the SSL encryption on payment pages.
● Always update antivirus software.

Also Read: PhonePe Pulse unveils digital payment trends for Q3 2021

Mitigating threats together

While the digital payments sector is going through exciting times, especially in India, it is advisable to not lose sight of caution. The more vigilant we stay, the safer our money will remain and we will also be able to enjoy doing online transactions. Digital medium for transactions is a boon to mankind if we learn the tips and tricks to stay safe.

Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of Satyajit Kanekar, Co-founder & CEO, Mobileware Technologies.

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