India is rapidly becoming internet-enabled, thereby increasing her exposure to cyber-attacks. Every day new users are getting introduced to the internet, susceptible to the danger of becoming victims of cyber abuse.
Recently, the Indian home ministry disclosed that India had experienced a 40% rise in cyber crimes over the past two years. Data theft, credit card fraud, unauthorized wiring of money, exposure of confidential information and illegal hacking topped the list of reported crimes.
The picture below shows the Indian regions that are affected with different malware types in December 2014 (courtesy of our own instrumentation data plotted on our internal Google maps interface).
Microsoft’s last survey also reveals that India was the most hit region by malware over the last quarter. Malware categories like worms, Trojans, adware and other malicious exploits had predominantly affected India compared to most other developed and developing parts of the world. This unpleasant fact is alarming as India had started employing the Internet increasingly in her e-Governance infrastructure to aid the citizenry in education, health and consumer services, etc.
The mass spread of most of these threats can be attributed to the facts that much of the population is ignorant of such types of assault and inattentive to protect their computers and smart devices that connect to the internet.
Malware engages diversified ways to creep in and cause havoc, most commonly:
1. Pirated Software – There are a lot of users who install unlicensed versions of the Windows operating system to avoid payment. Cracked versions of the OS, games or other software are readily available online for “free” download. However, pirated versions do not receive critical security updates making them impotent to fight back against malware threats.
2. USB Devices – Liberally sharing USB devices, of which a high proportion are infected, among friends and colleagues easily spreads worms. Incidentally 28% of malware encountered in India were autorun worms that spread through removable devices.
3. Free Downloads – Games, screen savers, tools and any “free” software download may travel bundled with Trojans or adware that may lead to user’s personal information leaking out, cause computer slowdown or cause a change to computer settings.
A notable number of laptops and smart phones are believed to be infected by malware on a daily basis. Moreover, Microsoft claims that the computers and devices that have no anti-virus installed or expired anti-virus are four times more likely to encounter malware attacks. To defend against security threats and to cope with the growing social networking habits, users (especially from India) must gradually start understanding the importance of cyber security, good internet practices and install a reliable anti-virus product to stay secure.
Wish you all a Happy New Year and Safe Computing in 2015 … and what’s left of 2014 too!!
Archana Sangili, Content Writer
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