Digital payment fraud

The growing web of digital payment frauds

by | Feb 17, 2021 | IT Security

As consumers are rapidly shifting to online payments due to COVID-19, the risks around digital payment frauds have also increased and need a strategic prevention approach.
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The rapid maturing of digital technologies and contactless payments have made lives of businesses and consumers easier. During the pandemic-stricken, confined ecosystem, enterprises quickly moved to digital and incorporated new digital payment and supply chain models. Consumers were also quick to shift to new behavior patterns and replaced in-store shopping with online shopping. Along with merchants and consumers, cybercriminals switched to new ways as well to expand their malevolent and fraud activities.

The upsurge in the online ecosystem is likely to create a brand new generation of digital customers in 2021. As digital experiences continue to become mainstream, cybercriminals are sensing an unprecedented opportunity to use new tricks and technologies to weave a deep fraud web around the gullible people and vulnerable IT networks.

Pandemic fueling fraud surge

By leveraging the latest technologies and network vulnerabilities, fraudsters explore new ways to target individuals and enterprises who lack adequate knowledge or cybersecurity tools to defend themselves.

Consider some statistics to understand the gravity of the situation: India witnessed over 2.9 lakhs cybersecurity incidents related to digital banking in 2020 (Source: CERT-In); a few months back, grocery delivery major Bigbasket faced a data breach, revealing data of 2 crores of its registered users; according to various industry reports, data breaches cost Indian firms Rs 15 crores yearly on average; FICO, a US analytics company revealed that four in five Asian banks are losing money to fraud as real-time payments rise.

The above data is just the tip of the iceberg. With the pandemic as a backdrop, digital payment frauds can upsurge even further.

Unified Payment Interface (UPI) emerged as one of the easiest ways to transfer money through Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe, Freecharge, and others. This trend, however, also gave birth to various frauds associated with UPI payments.

The situation’s enormity can be fathomable as fraudsters didn’t even spare the Delhi chief minister’s daughter, as reported by various media outlets recently. She recently fell victim to an online payments scam while selling a piece of old furniture on an e-commerce platform. Last year, an Indian Air Force officer too fell prey to one such scam. The UPI-related frauds are even more concerning as India target massive uptake of digital transactions in the next few years, up from the current 46 billion.

There are also instances where users have fallen victim to fake shopping websites and transferring money by relying on unauthorized payment links received through SMS.

In one of the advisories issued in 2019, the Reserve Bank of India had warned all banks to take robust measures to prevent digital banking frauds that can wipe out the entire balance of a customer using UPI technology. With the more users connected to the mobile and the internet, such incidents are ordained to increase.

AI, ML, and user awareness

It is reasonable that most new customers moving to digital payments lack the knowledge and can be tricked by fraudsters to make security mistakes or provide sensitive information about their accounts. It becomes essential for enterprises and banks to take the necessary steps to combat digital payment frauds in such a scenario. (See: AI in banking now geared for a takeoff)

Enterprises and banks overhauling their payment and customer interface mechanisms by integrating digital pieces need to embed technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide a secure and frictionless payment experience to customers.

By leveraging AI and ML algorithms’ competencies, the network can flag anomalies and derive a risk pattern, approving or declining a payment. In the year ahead, AI-enabled virtual chatbots will also play a pivotal role in enhancing user awareness and answer all payment-related queries. Enterprises are also testing predictive and prescriptive analysis to identify fraud in digital payment transactions.

There is a strong need for the industry to come together and make appropriate investments in next-generation security frameworks, real-time fraud monitoring solutions, and knowledge sharing programs to outsmart cybercriminals and strengthen consumers’ confidence in digital payments.

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MoHUA workshop on sustainable sanitation

MoHUA workshop on sustainable sanitation

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) will be organizing a one-day national workshop cum exhibition at Vigyan Bhawan on 19 August 2019. The workshop is being organized as part of the year-long celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

The day long interaction among stakeholders is expected to culminate into a comprehensive roadmap for ensuring sustainable sanitation in urban areas. State/ UT and ULB level representatives, in the coming days, will organize similar workshops in their respective areas to further disseminate information and insights on this crucial subject thereby lending a new dimension to the issue of safe and sustainable sanitation.

Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E) will be the Chief Guest of the event. The workshop which will also be graced by Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs will see participation from over 800 representatives including the Principal Secretaries (UD) and Mission Directors of AMRUT and Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) in States/Union Territories and Municipal Commissioners of 500 cities with population of 1 lakh and above, heads of Parastatal bodies, officials from MoHUA as well as MoSJ&E and development partners.

The focus of the workshop will be on discussing social and legal issues as well as technological and managerial interventions with regard to human entry into sewers and septic tanks. Alongside, the workshop will showcase best practices on Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of sewerage system including mechanical cleaning of sewers, faecal sludge management with mechanical cleaning of septic tanks, co-treatment of septage, and showcase the latest equipment and machinery for cleaning of sewers and septic tanks in the exhibition.

The roles and responsibilities of the Emergency Response Sanitation Unit (ERSU), a proposed unit to systematize human entry into sewer/septic tanks in a professional, well trained, motivated and appropriately equipped manner. Wastewater and stormwater management including rainwater harvesting in line with the Government’s focus on water conservation through the Jal Shakti Abhiyan will also form an important agenda of discussion at the workshop. To complement these efforts, the Ministry will release the Manual on Stormwater Drainage Systems, 2019, Advisory on ERSU and the Directory of Sewer and Septic Cleaning Equipment prepared by technical experts from the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO).

Through a series of panel discussions through the day, the workshop will also see discussions and presentation of best practices on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) based biomethanation under Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiative of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) and co­treatment of organic fraction of MSW with sludge.

It has been an endeavor of the Ministry to ensure that dangerous and illegal practices such as manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks be completely eliminated. In this regard, there have been many advisories and SOPs issued by MoHUA on safe cleaning and maintenance of septic tanks, sewer networks and manholes targeted at eliminating human casualties. The workshop on sustainable sanitation is being organized in order to bring together relevant stakeholders to strategize on mitigating the risks associated with manual entry into sewers / septic tanks in a systematic manner, and help eliminate such incidents and fatalities.

BRICS resolves to fix urban environmental issues

BRICS resolves to fix urban environmental issues

Acknowledging the importance of urban environmental management for improving quality of life in cities, the Environment Ministers of BRICS countries today, agreed to work together to resolve the multifaceted environmental issues faced by BRICS cities. These discussions and announcements were made during the 5th BRICS Minister of Environment Meeting held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This meeting was preceded by two-days meeting of BRICS Joint Working Group on Environment, said a PIB release.

Highlighting the path breaking work done by India in achieving its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that India was walking the talk on NDCs. “We have achieved reducing energy intensity by 25% and already 78GW of renewable energy has been made possible, while at the same time forest cover has increased by nearly 15,000 sq km and tree cover outside the forest is increasing rapidly,” he said.

Stressing the key role played by BRICS countries Javadekar said that BRICS is a very good platform for all five countries for co-operation and development. “All five countries are rising and have many experiences to share and these experiences will definitely help all the economies to improve further in our climate action efforts and protecting environment while ensuring growth at the same time,” he added. In a tail of ministerial meetings, the minister iterated that India has set an example in achieving its NDCs and all countries need to walk the talk.

Group photo of BRICS Ministers of Environment during the 5th Ministerial meeting in São Paulo. (Source: PIB)

The Ministerial Declaration highlighted key initiatives – Partnership on Urban Environmental Sustainability Initiative (PUESI) to share knowledge and experience on important issues as waste management, cogeneration, reverse logistics, sanitation, urban air quality, urban green areas, BRICS Environmentally Sound Technology (BEST) Cooperation Platform for innovations, knowledge sharing and capacity building, and Clean River of BRICS program for improvement of river ecology and combating marine litter. Environment Ministers agreed to establish and strengthen concrete mechanisms of implementation of the cooperation initiatives with special focus on action-oriented cooperation. The key themes of urban environmental management, contaminated areas and soil remediation, water quality, circular economy in context of sustainable consumption and production, marine litter and biodiversity were agreed to be integrated into BRICS cooperation initiatives.

Javadekar, applauded the initiatives of BRICS countries and reaffirmed India’s support to BRICS cooperation. Environment Minister highlighted key initiatives as Swachh Bharat Mission, Waste Management Rules, Nationally Determined Contributions under Paris Agreement, National Clean Air Programme, electric mobility, marine litter, urban forestry scheme, development of resource efficiency policy among others. These efforts and innovative solutions for improving urban environmental quality were well acknowledged by the BRICS countries.

With respect to biodiversity, BRICs countries stand committed to support the development of Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and expect the prospective framework to acknowledge the sustainable use of biodiversity and Access and Benefit Sharing components.

The Ministers of BRICS countries urged developed countries to fulfill their commitment under the UNFCC and its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement to provide means of implementation to developing countries including climate finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building support. BRICS countries reaffirmed the importance of jointly exploring new sources of financing individual, bilateral and multilateral projects, while highlighting access to financial resources as key to tackling environmental problems in the developing world.

BRICS countries appreciated the Indian Presidency of the fourteenth session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Javadekar invited the BRICS Ministers delegations to join at CoP-14 during 2–13 September, 2019 and contribute to the efforts to combat desertification and land degradation.

Brazil was led by Ricardo Salles, Minister of Environment. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. Dmitry Kobylkin led the Russian delegation, while the Chinese delegation was led by Huang Runqiu, Vice-Minister of Ecology and Environment and the South African delegation was led by Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy.

Pix Source: PIB.

Campaign to rid India of one-time-use plastics

Campaign to rid India of one-time-use plastics

Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, who is in Sao Paulo, Brazil to attend the Ministerial meetings of BRICS and BASIC countries, said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has renewed his appeal to the people, in his Independence Day speech, to make India free of one time use plastics, a PIB release said.

“In response to Prime Minister’s call on India’s 73rd Independence day, to make India free of single use plastics, a massive public campaign will be launched engaging all stakeholders. In this regard a series of meetings will be held with all stakeholders including state governments to chalk out a concrete plan to make it a people’s campaign to realise the ultimate target,” Javadekar said while addressing a gathering to celebrate 73rd Independence Day at a function organized by the Indian Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Earlier, in a tweet message the Minister said, “PM @narendramodi today called for a campaign to make India free of single use plastics. Let us all strive together to make it happen.”

“We have now achieved ‘One Nation, One Constitution’; we had already achieved ‘One Nation, One Grid’. Now people should debate on ‘One Nation, One election’. The Prime Minister has also announced large scale infrastructure development plans with an investment of Rs 100 lakh crore in Road, Rail, Airport, Port, Waterways and other infrastructure. While listing out achievements of the government, the Prime Minister also discussed about ever-increasing population in India and the need to check it through public participation” Javadekar said addressing the gathering comprising of Indian diaspora, NRIs and eminent citizens of Brazil.

The Minister started his day today by paying respect to Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, at Vivekanand Cultural Centre in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At the flag hosting ceremony at Vivekanand Cultural Centre, he also interacted with Indian diaspora as well as Brazilian citizens.

India’s largest rural sanitation survey launched

India’s largest rural sanitation survey launched

Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has launched the Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2019 (SSG 2019) in the capital yesterday. Instituted from August 14 to September 30, 2019, SSG 2019 will cover 17,450 villages in 698 districts across India and include 87,250 public places namely schools, anganwadi centers, public health centers, haat/bazaars/religious places, making it India’s largest rural sanitation survey. Around 2,50,000 citizens will be interviewed for their feedback as part of the survey. Citizens will also be mobilized to provide feedback on sanitation relation related issues online using an application developed for the purpose.

An independent survey agency will conduct the survey in all districts and the results will be announced based on quantitative and qualitative sanitation parameters. With over 5.8 lakh villages, 639 districts, and 32 States/UTs declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in rural India, the country is well poised to be completely an Open Defecation Free India by October 2, 2019.

Times.Green has learnt that the survey is being carried out by a leading market research company Ipsos, as indicated by this LinkedIn post of Parijat Chakraborty, Executive Director and Business Head at Ipsos:

Speaking at the launch, Shekhawat emphasized on the huge success of the Swachh Bharat Mission in becoming the biggest behavior change program in the world. He shared that with SSG19, the Mission is being taken to the next level, by focusing on solid liquid waste management and plastic waste management.

Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State for Jal Shakti, further lauded the enthusiasm shown by all stakeholders towards last year’s survey and encouraged the gathering to garner even higher momentum at the grassroots level this year. Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, highlighted that this year the focus is on plastic waste disposal amongst other wastes.

A detailed protocol has been developed to guide the ranking of Districts basis their performance on key quality and quantitative parameters. The Jal Shakti Minister released the SSG 2019 logo, the SSG 2019 brochure mobile app and a dashboard for citizen’s feedback. An audio-visual campaign, featuring actor Ajay Devgan was also launched at the SSG launch event.

CSR spend recommended as tax deductible

CSR spend recommended as tax deductible

Injeti Srinivas, Secretary (Corporate Affairs), has presented the Report of the High Level Committee on CSR to the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman. The Committee has made far reaching recommendations.

The main recommendations include, making CSR expenditure tax deductible, provision for carry forward of unspent balance for a period of 3 – 5 years, aligning Schedule 7 with the SDGs by adopting a SDG plus framework (which would additionally include sports promotion, Senior Citizens’ welfare, welfare of differently abled persons, disaster management and heritage protection), balancing local area preferences with national priorities, introducing impact assessment studies for CSR obligation of 5 crore or more, and registration of implementation agencies on MCA portal. The other recommendations include developing a CSR exchange portal to connect contributors, beneficiaries and agencies, allowing CSR in social benefit bonds, promoting social impact companies, and third party assessment of major CSR projects.

The Committee has emphasized on not treating CSR as a means of resource gap funding for government schemes. The Committee discourages passive contribution of CSR into different funds included in Schedule VII of the Act. It has emphasized on CSR spending as a board driven process to provide innovative technology based solutions for social problems. The Committee has also recommended that companies having CSR prescribed amount below Rs. 50 lakh may be exempted from constituting a CSR Committee. The Committee has also recommended that violation of CSR compliance may be made a civil offence and shifted to the penalty regime.

The High Level Committee on CSR was constituted in October, 2018 under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Corporate Affairs) to review the existing CSR framework and make recommendations on strengthening the CSR ecosystem, including monitoring implementation and evaluation of outcomes. The Members of the Committee included Sameer Sharma, DG & CEO, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Dr. A.K. Mittal, former CMD, NBCC, N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons, Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital Private Equity, B.S. Narasimha, former Addl. Solicitor General of India, Rajeev Luthra, Founder & MD, Luthra and Luthra Law Office, Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo, Prof. Anil Gupta, Founder, Honey Bee Network and Professor, IIM, Ahmedabad, Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, President, Indian Olympic Association, S. Santhanakrishnan. Chartered Accountant, and Mathew Cherian, CEO, Helpage India. Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, was the Member and Convener.

41% reduction in crop stubble burning realized

41% reduction in crop stubble burning realized

Highlighting the considerable reduction in crop residue burning incidents in 2018, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE) & Director General, ICAR has said that India has demonstrated through coordinated public and private efforts such challenges can be addressed effectively. While addressing media in New Delhi today, Dr. Mohapatra added that through the various efforts under the Central Sector Scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the State of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh & NCT of Delhi’ the paddy residue burning events have reduced by 15% and 41% in 2018 as compared to that in 2017 and 2016, respectively, in all these states as per the satellite data. The Secretary also added that more than 4,500 villages in Punjab and Haryana were declared as Zero Stubble Burning Villages during 2018 as not a single crop burning incident was reported from these villages during the year.

Dr. Mohapatra stated that the Central Sector Scheme was launched with a total outgo of Rs 1,151.80 crore for the period from 2018–19 to 2019–20 by the Government of India to tackle air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and NCT of Delhi. Within one year of its implementation utilizing an amount of Rs 500 crore, the happy seeder/zero tillage technology was adopted in 8 lakh hectares of land in the north- western states of India. Under the scheme, financial assistance amounting to 50% of the cost is provided to the farmers for purchase of in-situ crop residue management machines on individual ownership basis. The financial assistance for establishment of Custom Hiring Centres of in-situ crop residue management machinery is 80% of the project cost.

During 2018–19, the funds amounting to Rs 269.38 crore, Rs 137.84 crore and Rs 148.60 crore have been released to the Governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh respectively, for distribution of in-situ crop residue management machinery to the farmers on subsidy, establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) of in-situ crop residue management machinery and undertaking Information, and Education and Communication (IEC) activities for creating awareness among farmers. During 2019–20, funds amounting to Rs 273.80 crore, Rs 192.06 crore and Rs 105.29 crore have also been released so far to the Governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, respectively, said a PIB release.

ICAR is implementing the scheme through 60 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of Punjab (22), Haryana (14), Delhi (1) and UP (23). In this scheme, awareness campaigns were conducted by organizing thousands of demonstrations, putting up hoardings, banners and wall paintings all across the states. Almost 700 awareness programs at village levels, 200 Kisan Ghostis and Field days, 86 KPisan Melas and 250 schools and colleges were sensitized in collaboration with state departments and agricultural universities. More than 2 lakh stakeholders were sensitized during one year. More than 400 hands-on training were organized and 18,000 farmers, tractor owner and machine operators were trained, the release added.

In addition to the above Scheme, separate funds are being allocated to the states for crop residue management under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization by the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare. The state governments have also been directed that Rs 4,000 per hectare shall be used from the funds available for demonstration of machines under the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization for demonstration of straw management machinery at farmers’ fields, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare said.

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