At a time when the social media population in India is growing exponentially, the country ranked second on a list of nations that were most targeted for cyber crimes through social media in 2014, following the US.
According to the Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) released by Nasdaq-listed security solutions provider Symantec, India saw six per cent of the social media scams globally, marginally higher than the UK and Canada.
“Cyber criminals are inherently lazy; they prefer automated tools and the help of unwitting consumers to do their dirty work,” said Tarun Kaura, director (technology sales) at Symantec India. “Last year (2014), India had the second highest number of social media scams globally. Over 80 per cent of these scams were shared manually, as attackers took advantage of people's willingness to trust content shared by their friends.”
|CYBER CRIME IN INDIA IN 2014|
While emails are still the more prevalent means of cyber attack, the report said attackers are using social media as a “ready base” for crime as they continue to experiment with new attack methods that reach more people with less effort.
Globally, 70 per cent of the attacks on social media fooled users to manually share scams, followed by fake offerings, hitting the “like” button, commenting or through fake applications.
Separately, the report said, seven internet users in India faced “ransomware” attacks every hour in 2014, in which their devices were restricted by attackers who demanded ransom to remove the restrictions. India saw 170 ransomware attacks a day in 2014, taking the number of such attacks to 60,000 during the full year, the report said.
Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to the device that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creators of the malware for the restriction to be removed.
“While social media scams can provide cyber criminals with quick cash, some rely on lucrative and aggressive attack methods like ransomware. Last year, ransomware rose 113 per cent globally. India reported the third highest ransomware in Asia, with an average of more than seven attacks every hour,” Symantec said.
Unlike the ransomware attacks in the US where attackers pretended to be law enforcement, seeking a fine for stolen content, the attacks in India were more crypto-ransomware where files, photographs and other content of the user are held hostage without masking the attacker's intention, the report said. As many as 86 per cent of all the ransomware attacks in India were crypto-ransomware, posing a threat to consumers as well as companies.