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Cyber security as a key challenge in realising India’s digital economy potential

As smartphone adoption grows, consumers still show apathy towards protecting themselves and their devices from cyber threats. With ESET’s Consumer Survey revealing that 68% of respondents spend most of their time on the internet via their smartphones, this could suggest a significant challenge to India’s cyber security.

India is one of the largest – and among the fastest growing – markets for smartphones in the world. 65% of respondents from our consumer survey have indicated that they use their smartphones to complete their online transactions. With continued growth in the usage of smartphones and mobile applications, associated security risks have also increased tremendously,” said Parvinder Walia, ESET Sales & Marketing Director Asia-Pacific and Japan.

A majority of respondents use their smartphones for online transactions

57% of respondents also indicated spending more than three hours online per day, suggesting a high degree of exposure to cyberthreats. However, the lack of awareness of device vulnerability is seen as a reason why data security of smartphones may not be a priority.

“Attacks on smartphones can come from various sources, such as fake Wi-Fi, malicious websites, unauthorized apps, and even PDF attachments. Moreover, ESET’s Consumer Survey revealed that 61% of respondents are constantly signed in to all their accounts on their smartphones, putting them at further risk, should their devices be compromised.

Respondents keep their accounts constantly logged in on their smartphones

As India moves towards becoming a trillion-dollar digital economy with booming e-commerce, security best practices will be crucial to keeping consumers devices and data secure,” added Parvinder.

According to the survey, 58% of respondents from India had suffered from a data breach in the past 12 months. Social media breaches, malware attacks, fraudulent charges to banking accounts and personal data being stolen and misused were some of the scenarios cited for the various data breaches that occurred.

Online habits that need to change in India

Some habits which respondents were found guilty of consisted of utilising free Wi-Fi (48%), using similar passwords across different platforms (41%) and failing to use multi factor authentication (60%).

Furthermore, in a recent ranking of the cyber security preparedness of 60 nations worldwide, India placed in the bottom quarter, suggesting significant room for improvement.

India’s ranking was based on several criteria: percentage of mobiles infected with malware, share of computers infected with malware, number of financial malware attacks, percentage of telnet attacks, percentage of attacks by cryptominers, the country’s preparedness for cyber attacks, and how up to date the country’s cyber security-related legislation is.

In conclusion, based on ESET’s Consumer Survey results, there are various aspects of India’s cyber security that need to be addressed. One key area would be in smartphone habits and usage. In doing so, India can hope to drive its economic growth further, through the mitigation of cyber threat occurrences.