Indians have got the least respect for their privacy and personal information. And, that’s why once again highlighted with the way they distribute their sensitive personal information.
As an initiative for Safer Internet Day, OLX, an international online marketplace, started conducting a survey known as the Internet Behaviour Survey last year. This survey, which studies Indian netizens, aims to gauge the level of cyber hygiene generally practised by urban and rural internet users in India.
The data for the Internet Behaviour Survey 2020 was collected from 7500 urban and rural Indian netizens, falling in the age range of 18-55 years. The survey reveals crucial data regarding an average Indian user’s safety practices on the internet, from reading privacy policies to habits about sharing sensitive personal information like address and bank details online. Additionally, the survey also examines parents’ practices to ensure their children’s safety online.
Major internet hygiene trends among Indian users
The study found some alarming gaps in safe internet use among Indians, and, at large, the figures remain similar to last year’s survey, with a few exceptions, some good and some bad.
73% of users reported skipping reading privacy policies and terms and conditions due to their complexity. This figure has increased by 6% compared to last year. 27% responded in the affirmative regarding the practice of reading privacy policies and safety-legal guidelines of services they used.
More than half the sample admitted to sharing their phone numbers and residential addresses online. This percentage dropped as compared to last year, but only by 4%. However, the most worrying findings pertained to sharing OTPs and UPI/bank details on the internet. A shocking 26% reported having shared OTPs online. An even more shocking 22% admitted to sharing financial details such as card numbers, UPI pins, and even bank account passwords.
The study also highlights some eye-popping facts related to their online banking habits.
61% of the respondents made more than 5 online transactions in a month, most of which were for online shopping or bank transfers. At the same time, 51% of respondents showed greater trust in offline transactions.
Around 37% of users regularly change their online banking passwords. Whereas 63% don’t. A third of the users cannot recall the last time they changed their passwords.
Encounters and attitudes towards financial frauds
Given the lack of precautions taken by Indian netizens, it is not all that astonishing that 66% have been the target of scamming and phishing attacks by fraudsters.
While 48% of the respondents showed a willingness to report such attacks, 52% of the actual victims did not report the frauds due to apprehension.
However, some positive findings were an increase in parental monitoring of children’s internet activities, which was 60% last year and increased to 66% this year. 72% of the respondents were also aware of the dangers of carrying out online transactions over public/unsecured Wi-Fis.
The way forward
Since India is the second-largest country by the number of mobile subscribers and smartphone users in the world, with an ever-increasing availability of internet services all over the country, it is necessary that people become more aware of privacy guidelines. By the end of 2019 there were 1.15 billion mobile subscribers and over 500 million smartphone users in the country, making it fall behind China only.
With services like Bhim UPI, it becomes even easier for fraudsters to attack people using methods that result in the victim sending large amounts of money to fraudsters while being under the impression that they’ll receive money. One such case took place recently, where a man was robbed of around a lakh in rupees while trying to sell furniture online, due to a UPI scam.
One recurrent issue seems to be the difficult language used in privacy policies. Steps should be taken to make this information more accessible to the layperson, by making the wording of these guidelines easier to follow for those who don’t necessarily speak English as their first language.
Since India also has a variety of regional languages, translations should be made available, whenever possible. General awareness can also be attained by advertisements issued by the government and private entities offering an online service.
A 2019 study revealed that 60% of internet-using Indians were worried about the safety of their data.