India is favourite hunting ground for cyber criminals

Rising internet penetration and popularity of online banking is an invitation, says study

prahlad

Prahlad Rao | January 5, 2015 | New Delhi



With nearly 55%-60% financial transactions being conducted over mobile devices this year, India has to wake up to lurking cyber criminals. An ASSOCHAM-Mahindra SSG study paints a grim picture and says that the number of cyber crimes in India may touch a humungous figure of 3,00,000 in 2015, almost double the level of last year.

Growing internet penetration and rising popularity of online banking have made India a favourite among the cybercriminals, who target online financial transactions using malware and India ranks third after Japan and US in the list of countries affected by online banking malware during the year of 2014.

Credit and debit card fraud cases top the chart of cybercrimes. There has been a sixfold increase in such cases over the past three years. This may cause havoc in the financial space, security establishment and social fabric, warns the study ‘Cyber and Network Security Framework’.

As per its findings, during 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 years, a total number of cyber crimes registered were 13,301, 22,060  71,780  and 62,189 (till May). Currently, the cyber crimes in India is nearly around 1,49,254 and may likely to cross the 3,00,000 by 2015 growing at compounded annual growth rate of about 107 per cent. As per the findings, every month nearly 12,456 cases registered in India.

As India shifts to use of information technology (IT) enabled services such as e-governance, online business and electronic transactions protection of personal and sensitive data becomes critical.

 “The economic growth of any nation and its security whether internal or external and competiveness depends on how well is its cyberspace secured and protected”, said DS Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings.

 
The increasing use of mobile/smartphones/tablets for online banking/financial transactions has also increased the vulnerabilities to a great extent. Phishing attacks of online banking accounts or cloning of ATM/Debit cards are common occurrences.

 
“What is causing even more concern is that the origin of these crimes is widely based abroad in countries including China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria among others”, he said.
 

How and why criminals thrive

 
There are many ways that sensitive information is hacked as a result of cell phone usage. The most common are due to installation of uncertified applications, said Mr. Rawat.

Indians penchant for lapping onto anything that is free is exploited by the cyber criminals. The smart phone users rarely check for security certificates and download apps (games, music and other software).

 
Nature of complaints

 
According to the data, around 2,277 complaints of online banking/credit/debit card fraud have been reported this year, followed by 191 Facebook-related complaints (morphed pictures/cyber stalking/cyber bullying). Other major cyber complaints were cheating through mobile (61), hacking of e-mail ID (59), abusive/offensive/obscene calls and SMS (55), and others.

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra occupy the top 3 positions in cyber crimes under the new IT Act. Interestingly, these states are known as IT hubs and account for more than 70 per cent to India's IT and IT related industries revenue.


Dos and don'ts for users

  • Avoid online banking, shopping, credit card transactions if the network is not properly secured. Do not give any information to people seeking credit card details over the phone.
  • Check your online account frequently and make sure all listed transactions are valid.
  • Be extremely wary of e-mails asking for confidential information.
  • Always delete spam e-mails immediately and empty the trash box to prevent clicking on the same link accidentally.
  • Beware of lotteries that charge a fee prior to delivery of your prize. Do not respond to lottery messages or call on the numbers provided in the text messages.
  • While using a credit card for making payments online, check if the website is secure as the CVV (card verification value) will also be required for the payment.
  • If a credit card is misplaced or lost, get it cancelled immediately.
  • Do not provide photocopies of both sides of the credit card to anyone. The CVV, which is required for online transactions, is printed on the reverse. Anyone can use the card for online purchases if they get that information.
  • Do not click on links in e-mails seeking details of your account, they could be phishing e-mails from fraudsters.

 

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