Gowing Cyberattacks on Digital Payments Attracts Penalties to Telcos

Gowing Cyberattacks on Digital Payments Attracts Penalties to Telcos

Recently, India has witnessed an exponential growth in the usage of digital wallets. However, the upgrading technology also brings in the risk factors. The easy access to digital payment also attracts hacker’s attention and they could easily break through the security and access the digital wallet. Thus, cybercriminals are finding novel ways to gain access to the wallets. Lately, hackers utilizing the telcos to trick digital wallet users. Thus, the telcos are becoming a vital source for hackers to gain access to the payment mode. The International Data Corp’s (IDC) 2019 has estimated that the telcos are spending on cybersecurity and would have a CAGR of 11.9 percent between 2018 and 2022.

In the report, Karen Massey, research manager, IDC says, "Robust investment in key security solutions is due to myriad facets of security needs, including data loss and prevention, compliance and risk management, increasingly sophisticated cyber schemes, and digital transformation complexity."  

The result of the fraud losses as a percent of global telecom revenue has grown by 37 percent to reach $28.3 billion as of 2019 or about 1.74 percent of total revenue compared with $29.2 billion which is 1.27 percent of global telecom revenue, says the Global Telecom Fraud Survey. 

It is been noted that the lack of cybersecurity for the telcos are leading to cyber breaches thus, the telecom regulator has imposed penalties collectively amounting to 35 crore on eight operators namely Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea, this is, in turn, paving the way for cybercriminals to send fraudulent SMSes to dupe digital payment users. The telecom regulator has also imposed penalties on other telcos such as Videocon, Tata Teleservices, Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, Quadrant Teleservices, and more. 

On the penalties, BSNL stands high being lashed with 30.1 crore as it is stated that the telco has failed to respond to Trai’s show-cause notices and produce performance-monitoring reports, Vodofone has been penalized 1.82 crore, Quadrant 1.41 crore, and 1.33 crore on Airtel.

This initiative is expected to boost the digital payment companies that are embroiled in a tussle with the telecom industry. A lawyer following the case at High court says, “The telecom companies will definitely dispute this fine in the court, but I don’t expect any positive outcome because the regulator has done its independent investigation, so Paytm seems to have an upper hand clearly.”

Through these telcos, the business entities send promotional and other transactional SMSes and they have to register their headers and content on the platform that is blockchain-based and is operated by the telcos. Thus, it would aid in preventing unwanted spam SMSes, that include fraudulent ones that are sent to the user even without their consent and registration. 

Thus, the Trai has intervened in investigating the telcos and is monitoring the telcos and their communications that is been sent violating the regulator's code of practice. 

Therefore, the telcos should consider taking necessary measures to differentiate the fake headers and messages that are sent from the banks and payment executives to secure private details from the suspicious sender. Alongside, the nationwide lockdown has proliferated cybercrimes in digital payments. Thus, the TRAI's initiative is expected to curb the cybercrimes