Cyber security threats in India with special interest towards phishing.

By- Upasna Anand

“In every seed of good there is always a piece of bad”.

These webbed words of Marian Wright Edelmen very beautifully captures and reflects the true face of the developing countries and India make its space among those. We as a nation are growing faster in this digital world where everything is done through web, people all around, live their life on this interconnected digital world and this is the future of today. Be it governmental policies of promoting digital India or global pandemic which has forced people to live life of complete digitalisation. All have increased the pace and made their space in human life. But in maintaining this physical social distance and connecting through web we have given bait and opportunities for the hackers to reach us. As no one can be perfect in oneself in the same way no technology can be 100% efficient. Every boon has a curse attached to it. In the same way digital world brings crimes and cyber risks attached to it. These cybercrimes have spread their roots so deep that it would take decades to eradicate it from our space. Pavan Duggal a supreme court advocate and cyber law expert has given a report that,” there is as much as 500% increase in cyber security attacks since lockdown”.

Cyber attacks or threats to cyber security is an attempt to destroy or infect computer network in order to extract or extort money or other malicious intention such as procuring necessary information.

Cyber security posses’ bigger threat than any other spectrum of technology. cyber criminals have already started abusing technology-controlled devise for propelling cyber crime such as fraud and theft. Challenges faced by technology space are hacking, virus dissemination, credit card fraud, phishing or cyber stalking.

Among a long list of bloodless war, phishing has increased at an alarming rate. It’s nothing but a cyber attack that uses disguised email as a weapon. The main objective is to trick the email recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need, a request from their bank, for instance, or a note from someone in their company, and to click a link or download an attachment. These attackers pretend as a trusted entity of some kind, often a real or probable real person, or a company the victim might do business with. It's one of the oldest types of cyber war, dating back from the 1990s, and it's still one of the most widespread and harmful, with phishing messages and techniques becoming increasingly sophisticated.

The internet crime report for 2019, released by internet crime complaint centre (IC3) has revealed that India stands third in the world among top 20 countries that are victim of cyberspace crimes.

The extreme measures have been accompanied by a dramatic rise in cybercrimes as the cases of COVID 19 in the country. Attacks have soared 86% in the four weeks roughly, according to a recent Reuters report quoting Indian Home Ministry officials and detailing “fake offers that Reliance Industries telecom arm Jio and streaming service Netflix Inc were offering discounted services” during the lockdown. Among these crimes in cyber society the rate of phishing is prominent in all. It has been 3x to 4x increase in its rate over mass scale since December 2019, said by CEO Suman kar of bar bench cybersecurity consultor. It has predictably targeted private citizens’ wallets and personal data given the sharp increase in the percentage of India Income’s workforce remotely working as a result of the nationwide shelter-inplace measures instituted by the government.

Lt. Gen. Rajesh Pant, India’s National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC), told that cyber criminals had launched thousands of “fraud portals” related to the coronavirus. These sites have lured thousands of Indians eager to contribute to the fight against coronavirus into making donations. Many of these phony sites are quite sophisticated, virtually indistinguishable from their genuine counterparts.

Chief among these is the PM CARES coronavirus fund, established by the prime minister’s office. At least a half dozen fake versions of the site have emerged and have successfully solicited thousands of dollars from unsuspecting individuals. Senior officials from Home Ministry said that” more than 8,000 complaints had been received from Indians both home and abroad who had duped into giving money to fake versions of the government’s flagship fund”.

Personal data also carry on to be an attractive target during the pandemic. Indian officials have reported that malware and phishing schemes operating under the pretext of COVID prevention efforts have similarly seen a steep rise since the outbreak. The so-called coronavirus malware is aimed at stealing bank account details, password and other delicate information just opportunistic attacks against private individuals. It’s not just opportunity attack against private individual, but country as a whole is also facing its consequences in fields of defence and national security.

Last month, a state-sponsored hacking group supported by Pakistan perpetrated a series of ransomware and phishing attacks aimed at stealing highly sensitive defense, security and diplomatic data under the guise of coronavirus health advisories. Scores of Indian government officials both in India and embassies around the world found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the attacks masquerading as legitimate epidemic-related transmission.

No one is safe in this cyber society, be it private individual or government. This has become the serious need of the hour to take the steps and shield from these viruses all around. It has been very rightly said,” There’s no silver bullet solution with cybersecurity, a layered solution defence is the only viable defence”.

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