NortonLifeLock (NASDAQ: NLOK), a global leader in consumer Cyber Safety, today released findings from its annual Cyber Safety Insights Report, revealing that nearly 4 in 10 respondents in India (39%) have experienced identity theft, with 10% impacted in the past year alone.
The study reveals that 61% of respondents feel well-protected against ID theft but 63% would have no idea what to do in case of an identity theft, and more than three-quarters (79%) wish they had more information on what to do if it were to happen. The study further reveals that identity theft and cybercrime appear to be more common among men than women (44% vs. 33% ID theft, 84% vs. 76% cybercrime), and among younger adults (18-39 years) compared to older adults (40+ years) (41% vs. 22% ID theft, 81% vs. 73% cybercrime). Overall, a strong majority of respondents (80%) reported being a victim of a cybercrime at some point in their lives, with two-thirds (66%) having experienced a cybercrime in the past 12 months.
Growing concern over privacy
“Headlines of identity theft, data breaches and online fraud are on the rise and it is crucial that we understand the seriousness of protecting personal information,” said Ritesh Chopra, Country Director, NortonLifeLock, India. “While the report suggests Indian consumers are more concerned about the misuse of personal information, amongst those of other countries, it also reveals that they are complacent about sharing their data if they get something in return. It is important for consumers to understand that being cyber safe is a shared responsibility that starts with every individual. It is crucial for each one of us to be mindful of our digital footprint, the kind of data we are actively sharing with third parties and the extent of access we are giving them through our devices.”
Aware, yet complacent?
Just over 1 in 10 (14%) report always reading privacy policies in full themselves. Further, Indian respondents are far more likely than consumers globally to report the following situations are acceptable:
A company selling their online search or shopping history to other companies, so they’ll get more relevant advertisements (52% vs. 25% global average)
A technology device company allowing its employees to listen to their voice commands via voice assistants to improve products and services (66% vs. 34% global average)
A social media company using photos or videos they post on social media to help train their artificial intelligence tech to protect their users from seeing violent or inappropriate images (57% vs. 35% global average)
Surprisingly, India is the only country where a majority of adults find these situations acceptable.
Facial Recognition: the next challenge in protecting privacy
70% of Indian respondents say they are familiar with facial recognition and despite some of the stated concerns, most support the use of it among law enforcement (76%), schools (74%), and to a lesser extent, retailers (69%). 72% believe the technology will improve products and services. However, many also believe that facial recognition will likely be abused or misused in the next year (58%). Almost half think it will do more harm than good (48%). Specifically, the concern with facial recognition that rises to the top is that cyber criminals could access and/or manipulate their facial recognition data and steal their identity (46%). So, it is not surprising that they overwhelmingly think businesses (83%) and the government (83%) should be required to inform/report where or when they are using facial recognition.
Taking responsibility of protecting managing personal information
When it comes to managing and protecting their personal information, Indian respondents have little or no trust in many of the organizations that collect it. But that said, they are more likely to trust many organizations, for example smart device manufacturers (50% trust a lot, 20% global average); government (45% trust a lot, 21% global average); financial institutions (35% trust a lot, 23% global average); and social media providers (22% trust a lot, 9% global average). In line with being more likely to trust, they are also the most likely, by far, to have confidence that both companies (69% vs. 43% global average) and the government (71% vs. 44% global average) are doing enough when it comes to data privacy and protection. India not only outpaces all other countries for this confidence, it is the only country where confidence crosses a strong majority for both companies and government. However, when asked to compare directly to other countries, Indian respondents are the most likely to say their country is behind most others when it comes to data privacy laws (71% vs. 53% global average).
Lastly, Indian adults are split on who should be held most responsible for ensuring protection of personal information and data privacy. A solid minority (42%) believe it is the government that should be most responsible, followed by companies (32%). By contrast, they tend to hold the individual consumers least responsible (46%) for protecting their own privacy by reading privacy policies and ensuring their personal information is shared only with companies they trust.
With a view to help ensure digital privacy, NortonLifeLock recommends the following best practices to help safeguard one’s online identity:
Use strong passwords: Avoid simple passwords. Make them complex, pick a random word that includes a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. Using a password manager to generate complex, hard to guess passwords can also help. It is also best to use a password that has no obvious association to you. And of course, don’t reuse passwords once they’re created.
Keep your software updated: Cyber criminals frequently use known exploits, or flaws, in your software to gain access to your system so patching those exploits and flaws
Think Before You Click: Be on the lookout for phishing efforts and questionable offers. Don’t click on dubious email or text message links or open attachments from an unknown source. They might take you to a site that asks you to reveal personal information, or that puts malware on your device.
Use a full-service internet security suite: Invest in a comprehensive all-in-one protective solution that offers real-time protection against existing and emerging threats including anti-malware, spam and phishing.
Read the privacy policies: Take time to understand what permissions you are granting to a third-party app/software. Be wary of those asking for permissions to read text messages, access to contacts list, camera and so on.
Take measures to help protect yourself against identity theft: Key ways to help prevent identity theft include using legitimate sites when shopping online, using a secure network, remaining on the lookout for devices attached to card readers or ATMs and keeping an eye on your credit card statements and credit reports. You should also take advantage of protection tools such as ID theft alerts and EMV chip debit/credit cards as an extra layer of protection.