Looking for dieting help? Beware of cyber-fat

|June 29, 2016 0
A study to understand consumer behaviours when searching online for diet and fitness programs,  highlights various ways cybercriminals take advantage of the public’s interest in dieting programs 

INDIA: When it comes to the desire for the ideal body, people may be willing to sacrifice their online security and identity if it takes them a step closer to achieving desired results.

Many people seem to be willing to share information like email address (79 per cent), full name (72 per cent) or age (53 per cent) with a website, service or company in hopes of reaching their goal weight or dream body. A significant number of respondents in a recent study indicated that they would also share their home address (28 per cent), credit/debit card details (13 per cent), or even a photo in underwear/bathing suit (e.g. before/after shots) (six per cent).

Intel Security has released findings from its new study, “Online Security Diet: You Are What You Click,” which examines the online behaviors and attitudes of Indians ages 21 to 54 toward dieting clickbait. It points out that a vast majority of the people (78 per cent) that click on link for diet programs/ tips/ products did consider that it could be spam/malware. That said, 44 per cent of survey respondents have purchased a service or product from a promotional link without knowing whether or not it’s a secure site.



Yet one out of four respondents (25 percent) admitted that they didn’t know how to check if the website was secure before providing payment details or personal information.

The survey indicates that youngsters between the age group of 21-30 years are more likely (77 per cent) to click on promotional links around diet tips and programs. While the month of June brings about a pleasant weather with commencement of rains in India, it also necessitates the need to maintain a healthy diet to stave off the many diseases that monsoon brings along with it.

During the rains, people abstain from eating food that’s cooked outside, making June a popular month to turn up online in search of new diet routines. Cybercriminals exploit this need by creating phony weight loss ads leading unsuspecting people into digital traps.

“Findings from our study indicate that Indian millennials (aged 20-30) are conscious about their diet, and they tend to rely on information available online for quick diet fixes, and cybercriminals are increasingly exploiting this behavior for their own benefit.” said Venkat Krishnapur, Head of Operations for Intel Security’s India Engineering Centre.

Gleanings from the research tell that over two thirds of the survey respondents (71 per cent) between ages 21-54 clicked on a promotional link that offers a diet program. And this figure rises to 77 per cent for respondents within the age group of 21-30 years

Some 70 per cent of respondents are more likely to click on a promotional link or an article offering dietary tips featuring or endorsed by a celebrity.

Respondents were most likely to click on a promotional link for diet programs/ products/tips generated by a Google search (68 per cent), with others reporting they would click links featured on Facebook (67 per cent), email (47 per cent), or a website (44 per cent), the study observed.

The company shares some advice here. Click with caution. Offers from sites that seem too good to be true, such as “Lose 5 Kgs. in one week,” may indicate that a site should be viewed with caution. Websites or emails might include phishing links that can lead you to websites that lure you into giving personal information to cybercriminals or download malware to your computer

It also recommends to browse safely and to be aware of phony websites. Sites aimed at scamming consumers may have an address very similar to a legitimate site, like “Wait Watchers” opposed to “Weight Watchers.” Phony sites often have misspellings, poor grammar or low-resolution images. If a site asks for personal information, double check the URL, and make sure it’s the site you intended to visit and not an imposter. Use a web reputation tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor that can help identify risky sites and inform you that you may be about to visit one.

Some more suggestions follow:

Develop strong passwords. Do away with the “123321” password, and use a strong one, like “9&4yiw2pyqx#.” Regularly change passwords and don’t use the same passwords across all your accounts. As a way to improve the quality of your passwords, consider using a password manager.

Stay up to date. The best security software updates automatically to protect your computer. Use the manufacturer’s latest operating systems and allow security patches to be updated on an ongoing basis. Also ensure you have the appropriate software set to conduct routine scans. Use a comprehensive security solution.


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