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India ranked 2nd in cyber attacks through social media in 2014

Symantec report says India saw 6% of social media scams globally in 2014

BS Reporter  |  Bengaluru 

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.”

  • India ranks 2nd in social media scams
  • India ranked 3rd in Asia for ransomware attacks
  • India is 6th most bot-infected country
  • About 65% of bot infections reported in metros
  • 34% of cyber attacks in India were targeted at small businesses
  • India saw seven ransomware attacks per hour; 170 per day; about 60,000 in 2014
  • Cyber criminals are using social media, apps
  • Globally, 70% of social media crimes fooled users to manual sharing of scams

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.

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First Published: Thu, April 23 2015. 00:40 IST