Basic Antivirus is not enough – Role of Cutting-Edge Technology in Preventing Online Scams

by Parvinder Walia, President Asia Pacific and Japan, ESET

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In the age of digital transformation, the convenience of online transactions and communication has been overshadowed by the rising threat of cyber scams, posing risks to individuals across all walks of life. Even Bollywood and internet celebrities have unfortunately fallen victim to such fraudulent activities. A well-known Bollywood actor has reportedly lost Rs 1.50 lakh after inadvertently updating their Know Your Customer (KYC) details through a deceptive text message link. Similarly, another celebrity suffered a loss of Rs 5.79 lakh to a scammer exploiting the infamous ‘drugs in parcel’ scheme. These incidents underscore a concerning trend highlighted by recent surveys, indicating that 39% of Indian families have reported falling victim to online financial fraud.

Even in tech-savvy cities like Bengaluru, residents have incurred staggering financial losses totalling Rs 470 crore due to various forms of cybercrime, encompassing 18 distinct patterns. This alarming statistic serves as a stark reminder of the pervasive digital dangers lurking in the shadows.

The prevalence of such scams means that most of us can readily identify a friend or family member who has either been victimised or narrowly avoided falling prey to online fraud. This emphasises the urgent need for heightened awareness, stringent security measures, and proactive measures to safeguard against cyber threats in today’s digital landscape.

Insidious Online Scams Lurking in Every Corner

The landscape of online scams is diverse, with social engineering attacks remaining as a top concern for organisations and individuals alike. Social engineering describes a range of non-technical attack techniques that are used by cybercriminals to manipulate users into giving up sensitive information. Perhaps the most common of these is phishing, which remains among the most prolific cybercrime techniques, where attackers attempt to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card details, or personal identification, by posing as trustworthy entities. Emails used to be the most common method for phishing attacks, but in recent times, this has extended to Vishing and Smishing, short for “voice phishing” and “SMS phising” respectively. 

Beyond these, more sophisticated threats lurk. Malicious applications can spy on your text messages for OTPs, while others employ keyloggers to stealthily capture every keystroke, including passwords. The dangers extend to juice jacking, IP grabbers, and more recently, the advent of threat actors using generative AI (genAI) to make scams more convincing than ever, painting a frightening picture of the cyber threat landscape for users.

The Shield of Modern Technology – How Advanced Cybersecurity Tools Protect Us

Fortunately, modern technology is keeping up and now offering powerful defenses against a wide range of online scams. Using the right tools on both our smartphones and computers will not only protect ourselves and our loved ones from falling victim to these digital traps, but also reduce several other risks associated with our Internet-connected lifestyles and online interactions.

Beyond basic antivirus, consumers need to utilise solutions with anti-phishing features to safeguard personal information by blocking fraudulent websites and scanning for dangerous SMS links. Moreover, payment protection features add an additional layer of protection designed to prevent other applications from noticing the launch of your protected applications and prevents them from replacing information or reading on-screen information from your protected application. Secure browser modes further enhance safety, encrypting communication to thwart keyloggers and protecting digital footprints. 

Now with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), users should look for solutions that leverage AI and human expertise as these tools offer state-of-the-art protection against a spectrum of online scams. By leveraging the power of modern AI-techniques, these tools will not only stay ahead of emerging threats but also set new standards for efficiency and accuracy in threat detection and response. 

Once equipped on your devices, these cybersecurity tools enable safe online interactions to even the most vulnerable users like our elders and children.

Cybersecurity Is a Necessary Shield

The digital age demands more than just awareness; it calls for robust defenses, and modern technology has risen to the challenge, offering formidable protection against online scams. Investing in robust cybersecurity software is not just a preventive measure but a necessary shield in today’s digital world. It offers a comprehensive defense against a wide array of scams, from the simple to the sophisticated, ensuring peace of mind during online activities. Beyond just protection, these tools provide a seamless and secure online experience, allowing users to engage in digital life with confidence.

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