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Five Tips To Secure Your Online Transactions

Here are five key points to consider while dealing with digital transactions, to ensure safety and security

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Digital transactions are on the rise and paper money is becoming passe. We are in an era where there is more promise for the sector than ever before, with India being one of the frontrunners in the race to becoming a less- cash economy. There is a need for public-private effort to overcome the vulnerabilities of cyber space. Even the most learned people make mistakes in the digital world and that can prove to be very costly.

Thus, the subject of cybersecurity has become more relevant and critical. It has been observed that measures are most effective when it's a cocktail of constant vigilance, taken on a smaller, more personal level by users coupled with stringent policies and regulations.

Here are five key points to consider while dealing with digital transactions, to ensure safety and security.

1.    Protect your personal information 
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information to open accounts and make unauthorized transactions in your name. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today. The best way to take these criminals on is learning the tricks of their trade. A simple username and password can easily be obtained by phishers to impersonate the customer. It is critical to have multiple security layers, authorization protocols, and tracking and monitoring systems to internally handle sensitive customer account details. It is better to change your password regularly especially after accessing accounts from public places as it can easily be traced back or seen by others.

Monitor accounts frequently by ensuring that the cache and browsing history are clear and delete all the temporary files from the computer. Never allow the browser to remember an ID and password.

Cyber thieves are quite crafty when it comes to getting their hands-on bank statements or credit card numbers. Thus, the simplest way to stay safe is cutting up unwanted cards and shredding documents before throwing them away.

2.    Choose strong passwords 
Having a secure, unique password for each of your online accounts is critically important. If a scammer gets just one password, they can begin to access your other accounts. That's why it's important to have a strong, unique password when you log in. A strong password should have the following characteristics:

"    More than 8 characters long.
"    Use lower case, upper case, a number, and a special character [like [email protected]#$%^&*()_+=?><.,/].
"    Not a word or date associated with you (like a pet's name, family names, or birth dates).
"    A combination of words with unusual capitalization, numbers, and special characters interspersed. Misspelled words are stronger because they are not in the dictionary used by attackers.

While providing confidential information or conducting financial transactions through a website, look for the lock icon on your status bar. Confidential information should always be accompanied by comprehensive security measures. Always look for the padlock icon on sites before entering your account information and password. This means that the data is protected, and the site is following ethical compliance strategies.  Providing end-to end- encryption is essential, as the information should be impenetrable to anyone but the individual.

3.    Do not send personal information through email. Do it only through the provided online banking features 
Ensure that important information containing personal or financial data is treated with due diligence. Do not share critical information on any platform that is accessible to more than one source. Information and passwords sent via emails are susceptible to hacker attacks. Your bank will never ask for your confidential information via phone or email. Whether you get an 'apparent' phone call from the bank or an email requesting your details, do not disclose your login information. Use your login ID and password only on the official login page of the bank, which is a secure website.

4.    Opt for a two-factor authentication
Most websites tend to use weak authentication protocol that leads to threats such as phishing, malware and script attacks. Having two-factor authentication (2FA) can prevent loss of confidential information and can protect data from being hacked. Two-factor authentication has been used to control access to sensitive systems and data, and online services are increasingly introducing 2FA to prevent their users' data from being accessed by hackers.

5.    Ensure you download authentic apps for payments 
There is no shortage of apps today that claim to make your online transactions easier. However, make sure you only download official apps that are listed on Google Play or Apple Store to prevent malware attacks. Even within the app store, look out for authentication tags such as the 'top developer badge' - a program that recognizes safe & reputed developers with a blue badge and "Top Developer" on their app listings.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Online Transactions opinion

Sathish Vaidyanathan

The author is Director of Engineering, New Initiatives Group, PayPal

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