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How to ensure your cybersecurity this tax season? Here is your checklist for secure ITR filing

With the tax filing season for FY23 and FY24 in full swing, individuals need to be vigilant in the face of increasing cyber threats. As cybercriminals employ increasingly sophisticated tactics, securing personal and financial information has become paramount.

Here’s a comprehensive checklist of red flags to watch for during tax season:

Understanding cyber threats

Cybercriminals are exploiting digital payment trends to perpetrate scams such as malware attacks, phishing scams and identity theft.

“As AI-based counterattacks become increasingly convincing, individuals should remain cautious of suspicious communications,” said Vipin Surelia, vice president and head of risk management services at Visa.

Cyberattacks can lead to identity theft, credit score damage, and financial losses for individuals. Businesses are also vulnerable to Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, which result in lawsuits and investigations.

“Despite expressing confidence in detecting scams, consumers often overlook red flags. Cybersecurity education plays a crucial role in enabling individuals to recognize and avoid potential fraud,” said Surelia told CNBC-TV18.com.

Securing personal information

When tax return Online, individuals should refrain from sharing sensitive information with third parties.

They should use secure e-filing services, avoid public Wi-Fi networks, and enable two-factor authentication for enhanced security.

Public Wi-Fi networks are particularly vulnerable to interception by cybercriminals, making them risky for conducting tax-related activities.

Improve password security

A crucial aspect is to improve password security.

It is imperative to create strong, unique passwords for tax filing accounts and update them regularly.

Using a password manager can help securely store and manage login information.

Email Security Practices

It is essential to remain cautious about email security.

Since cybercriminals often use phishing tactics, individuals should be wary of unsolicited emails claiming to come from tax authorities or financial institutions.

Clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown senders can expose devices to malware or phishing attempts, potentially compromising sensitive information.

Regular software updates

Regular software updates play a vital role in strengthening cybersecurity defenses.

Individuals should ensure that all devices used for tax filing have up-to-date antivirus software and security patches.

Regularly updating operating systems, web browsers, and other software is essential to patch vulnerabilities and protect against cyber threats that exploit outdated software.

Monitor bank accounts regularly

Regular monitoring and reporting of financial accounts is essential to quickly detect and address any suspicious activity.

Monitoring bank and credit card statements to detect unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity allows individuals to take immediate action if fraud is suspected.

Tokenization for data protection

Leveraging advanced security features like tokenization anonymizes data and protects personal financial information.

This technology replaces sensitive account information with unique digital identifiers, reducing the risk of data breaches.

Data encryption adds an extra layer of protection to sensitive tax documents and financial information.

Encryption of data stored on devices or transmitted over the Internet ensures that even if intercepted, the data remains unreadable to unauthorized persons.

ALSO READ | Filing the tax return for FY23-24: types of forms, required documents, processes and more

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