Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Indian millennials overconfident, unprepared to deal with cyber crimes: report

Thirty one percent of millennials admit to sharing passwords and engaging in other risky online behaviour

More than half of India’s millennials—those born in the digital era, typically between the early 1980s and early 2000s—have experienced some form of online crime, including e-mail and social media account breaches, identity theft, bank account and credit card information theft and cyber bullying in the last 12 months, according to a new report by cyber security firm Norton by Symantec, a division of Symantec Corp., the Mountain View, California- based security software provider.

These young Indians, aged between 18 and 35, have been found to be the more reckless Internet users—over-confident and underprepared to deal with cyber crime.

“They are either naive to online security or don’t understand the gravity of the issue," said David Lee, senior product manager, Norton Mobile Group.

Thirty one percent of millennials admit to sharing passwords and engaging in other risky online behaviour such as not using passwords, using weak passwords and keeping critical information in their mobiles, the report said.

Overall, 25% of online users surveyed in India admitted to sharing their passwords with family and friends. Of the 25% Indians who share their passwords with others, 36% of people share their banking passwords, 54% share social media credentials and 60% trust others with their email password, said the report.

The findings are based on a survey of 17,125 device users aged 18 plus across 17 countries including 1,000 users from India. The survey was conducted between August and September 2015.

One of the reasons for the “reckless behaviour" is that four out of 10 millennials believe that they aren’t “interesting enough" to be a target of online crime, which makes them lax when it comes to deploying online security measures.

Only half the millennials agree that identity theft is more likely now than ever before.

“Even though millennials have been immersed in online technology most of their lives, they are more reckless in many ways with only one in four believing they have most responsibility when an online crime occurs," said Ritesh Chopra, country manager, India, Norton by Symantec.

“Our findings reveal that consumer reservations are indeed grounded in reality. In the past year, 48 percent of India’s online population or approximately 113 million Indians (of 227 million) were affected by online crime," said Chopra. “Despite the threat of cybercrime in India, it hasn’t led to widespread adoption of simple protection measures to safeguard information online, with almost one in four Indians sharing passwords as a common practice."

Indian consumers affected by cybercrime lost on average 29.6 hours compared to an average of 21 hours across the 17 countries surveyed, it added.

Not only reckless, Indians are “in the state of denial" when asked how they rate themselves in the context of being prepared for online crimes.

“A majority of Indians surveyed gave themselves a solid A", said Chopra. However, in reality, 61% the people do not know what to do when hit by cyber criminals. Another metric show that 31% of Indian millennials are likely to be vulnerable as against the global average of 18%.

Indians are also more impacted emotionally when confronted with situations where they end up losing money as well as critical data.

Ascertaining the high emotional quotient of Indians, the report said, more than one in three Indians (36 %) feel sad after being affected by online crime, as compared to less than one in five (19 %) globally.

Close to eight in 10 respondents said they’d feel devastated if their personal financial information was compromised, the report added.

About 31% of Indians (driven mostly by millennials) reported personally having their mobile device stolen in 2014 as compared to the global average of 15%.

While Indians do worry about online security, they often fail to take proper basic actions against cyber crimes such as keeping a strong password or avoiding clicking on email attachment from unknown sources.

The data collated by the security firm showed that 60 % of Indian online users worry about experiencing cybercrime, while 54% of them believe it’s more likely that their credit card will be stolen online than from their wallet .

At a time when Indian government is pushing for cashless economy, this could come as a reality check highlighting the lack of awareness of online security.

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