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How safe are your e-commerce transactions?

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India has long been a global hub for ITES and BPO services. Huge amounts of institutional data have been processed, and our corporate security systems have evolved from intrusion detection systems and firewalls to high-tech data driven security setups.

While the contractual clients for these businesses ensure that security services are up-to-date, the RBI and IRDA have enforced regulations to secure banking and insurance transactions respectively. However, other sectors may not be doing so well.

"There is healthy development across some sectors while others are caught with their head in the sand in terms of data security", Ashish Thapar, Executive Consulting Partner, Professional Services, Asia, Verizon Enterprise Solutions says.

Anxiety about the safety of using Indian mobile apps reached the peak recently post alleged data breaches in popular apps like Ola, Zomato and few others.

"In such cases data may have been stolen from back-end servers, not from the mobile applications. It is advisable for users to have a different risk approach to these online accounts", Thapar says.

While experts may advise one to refrain from using banking credentials, the fact remains that bigger e-commerce players like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have made tall claims about the revenues generated from the mobile platform. Snapdeal claims around 70% of its transactions are done with a mobile device. Given the whopping numbers, what is the effective safety quotient behind conducting financial transactions with these mobile apps on public Wi-Fi?

"The safety factor is varied across companies. Today's apps must feature sandboxing to ensure safety against existing malware and strong encryption to safeguard data in transit", Thapar says.

While Apple and Play Store have ramped up security guidelines to prevent malicious or deficient applications from entering the platform, the fact remains there is not much data protection enforcement unlike European countries.

A third reason for genuine concern is that while India has germinated into a fertile ground for many online startups, there are concerns that these compromise on security, and hence its consumers are exposed to potential security threats.

"This is where the role of a possible regulator may come in handy to establish a baseline for security. Until then users may be at a risk of sharing data with organizations that may be compromising information security to make a quick buck in the initial stages of their business" 

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