Indians more digitally connected since COVID-19, and are protecting their digital devices: McAfee study

McAfee released findings from the ‘2021 Consumer Security Mindset Survey, revealing how Indians are ensuring their online security in an increasingly digital-first world with an accelerated adoption of connected devices. With people confined to their homes owing to the pandemic, right from adopting the work from home culture to adoption of distance learning, there’s been a rise in usage of connected devices. 

Cybercriminals too have worked feverishly to launch COVID-19-themed attacks that increased by 240% in Q3 and 114% in Q4 last year, with an average of 648 new threats per minute. In this backdrop, it is encouraging to see that increasingly, Indian consumers are realizing the importance of online security. According to McAfee’s new survey, 88% of Indian consumers feel they are more digitally connected since the start of Covid-19 via devices, online activities, connected homes, etc. and 86%  have implemented more protection for their digital devices. 

Indians are taking security into their own hands, as 57% agree that digital hygiene or the lack of it can put themselves and their families at risk. 2 out of 3 Indians (68%) check if the network that they are joining is secure before connecting. Furthermore, more than half (53%) feel more vulnerable to risks when someone has visited their home and has connected to their internet. Perceived to be most vulnerable to cyber threats are Wi-Fi networks (57%), someone’s home computer (46%), smart home assistants (26%), smart TV (28%), and gaming systems (29%). 

Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of engineering and managing director, McAfee India, said, “Remote working, online learning, and a surge in the usage of connected devices due to more time being spent indoors has resulted in increased digital dependence among Indians. While our study indicates that more Indians are digitally connected owing to the pandemic, they are also now actively taking steps to keep themselves protected from online threats. The spike in our digital footprints during this time, makes it critical for everyone to understand the importance of online security and take measures towards protecting themselves.” 

Security in a mobile-first world

More than half of Indians (58%) indicate having a good understanding of the data they store on their mobile device(s). Signalling a shift towards responsible behaviour, 72% utilize a mobile security software solution to protect data on their phone, of which, 46% use preinstalled security software. 58% of Indians believe that the information and data stored on their mobile phone is secure from cyber risks. 

Safeguarding the virtual classroom

81% of Indians state that since 2020, members in their household have started to participate in distance learning via virtual platforms. However, less than half (36%) of these purchased new security/protection technology to protect their family and home when distance learning was introduced into their new life routine.

While kids form the biggest users of distance learning, more than half (62%) believe that digital wellness and protection should have a separate curriculum and be taught throughout primary school. Added concerns when it comes to the increased connectedness of kids include exposure to scams (53%), sharing personal information (53%), illegal content (55%), cyber-bullying (52%), and misinformation (49%). 

Maintaining your digital wellness

With rising connectivity and device adoption continuing in 2021, consumers must understand the cyber risks of increased digital touchpoints, and how to best protect their personal information. They need to take actions at all connection points, actively maintaining their digital wellness. McAfee has mapped out a path consumers can take to protect themselves and others: 

  • Prioritize digital health. As people continue to embrace remote working models, educating and increasing self-awareness on potential cyber threats can help preempt threats and enable due precaution. Enhancing security standards across devices and home networks, can also go a long way in maintaining digital wellness.
  • Layer up your protection. Use multi-factor authentication to double-check digital authenticity and add a layer of security to protect personal data and information.
  • Connect with caution. Be cautious when connecting to any public Wi-Fi, or even your friend’s Wi-Fi connection, and make sure the network is secure and attached to a trusted source. Ensure that you don’t conduct any financial transactions or share any personal details while on an untrustworthy Wi-Fi network. 
  • Separate your devices for business and personal use. We may have brought work home with us, but it’s important to set boundaries between personal and work life. To prevent sharing information through personal channels, it is advisable to keep personal devices and accounts separate from those used for business purposes.
  • Use powerful security software. A comprehensive security software that can detect and block a variety of threats is always a good investment. Also, check if it includes a firewall, as this will ensure that all the computers and devices on your home network are well protected.

McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Methodology:

McAfee commissioned MSI International to conduct a survey of over 1,000 adults in India in April 2021, ages 18 – 75.

This press release only includes data from the India survey. Additional surveys were conducted in Canada, UK, Germany, France, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and U.S. Data for these regions can be requested via media contact below.

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