Identity Protection: A Bigger Worry Every Year

Social networking sites and online banking are very popular across the world but their users are now looking for better identity protection, according to the 2010 global online consumer security survey by RSA, the security division of EMC.

The global pr

Artwork: Chip Taylor
ovider of security solutions for business acceleration surveyed about 4500 people who voiced their concerns related to safety of personal information on the Internet. More than 1000 respondents participated from China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Today, Asian users want better identity protection while connecting to friends or conducting online banking transactions.

Increase of Phishing Attacks

China reported the highest number of casualties among the Asian countries surveyed (50 per cent) followed by Singapore at 27 per cent. Only six per cent of respondents in Japan have been victims of a phishing attack.

Cyber criminals are always on work but their constant activity has increased awareness about phishing among consumers. This awareness has significantly increased between 2007 and 2009, a period when the rate of attacks rose six times.

Each day, thousands of users join social networking sites but according to the survey, 65 per cent of them are reluctant to interact due to security concerns. These sites attract phishing activity because of their immense popularity and easy access to personal information.

Phishing activity is prevalent in the banking and health sectors also. Consumers know this and about 97 per cent of Asian respondents using such sites are concerned about the privacy of this information. About 77 per cent of Indians, 73 per cent of Singaporeans, 52 per cent of Malaysians and 32 per cent of Japanese said they were "very concerned" about phishing.

Need for Better Protection

Asian consumers now want better protection of their identities than simple username and passwords and look towards administrators of websites to offer a stronger form of security.

Christopher Young, senior vice president at RSA, noted that attackers are continuously sharpening their dangerous skills to infect computers with Trojans and malware. These criminals lure people to legitimate websites that are infected with malware.

The situation has worsened because of availability of more advanced communications applications and improved writing and Web design skills for the fraudsters. Figures are available to prove these points and the RSA anti-fraud command centre noted the highest-yet detected rates of phishing attacks between August and October 2009. The centre also reported a 17 per cent increase in the total number of attacks between 2008 and 2009.

"Consumer education and awareness is one of the first lines of defence in the ongoing battle against online crime. Organisations will continue to take advantage of the many benefits offered by the Internet and consumers will seek the convenience offered online -- all despite the inherent risks," said Young. "In order to maximise the full value of what the online world can offer, organisations need to take a layered approach to Internet security in order to best protect their customers' information."

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