Dark corners of digital world: Virtual extortion, identity theft, online bullying

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Oct 28 2013, 18:55pm hrs
Cyber threatIndia is among the world?s top five countries for the highest number of incidences of cybercrime.
The Indian workplace is going through a remarkable change, driven by the innovation in consumer technology, mobility and network infrastructure. The present-day office is increasingly seeing new technologies change the behaviours of its employees, with the experience provided by the devices used in living rooms across the country being expected in the office as well as at home.

Like it or not, but the cyber threat landscape too is evolving faster than security teams can manage, causing many enterprises to dramatically increase headcount and training programmes. Recently, the American IT major Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced new and enhanced solutions that help enterprises disrupt the life cycle of a cyber attack and improve the overall effectiveness of security operation teams through accelerated big data analytics and real-time, application-level threat detection.

New HP ArcSight solutions identify and prioritise threats faster, combine security intelligence with business intelligence, and close potential blind spots at the application layer, giving customers greater control over their security environments. More on the benefits of the security solutions later, first a look at the pitfalls of leading a digital lifestyle; Indians continue to be impacted by ransomware, identity theft and phishing incidences.

India, according to IT security firm Symantec, is among the worlds top five countries for the highest number of incidences of cybercrime such as ransomware (11%), identity theft (11%), and phishing (9%). With cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated and targeted, the average cost per cybercrime victim in India is up at $207 from $192 last year, says a Norton report. The Norton report is claimed to be one of the worlds largest consumer cybercrime studies, based on self-reported experiences of more than 13,000 adults across 24 countries, aimed at understanding how cybercrime affects cunsumers, and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impacts consumers security.

At first glance of the India findings, we were happy to see a significant drop from last year in the total number of victims and total cost of cyber crime, but a closer scrutiny revealed an alarming trend, said Ritesh Chopra, country manager, Norton by Symantec. Todays cyber criminals are using more sophisticated attacks, such as ransomware and spear-phising which yield them more money per attack than ever before. With 66% of Indians using their personal mobile device for both work and pay, this creates entirely new security risks for enterprises as cyber criminals have the potential to access even more valuable information.

Indias internet population is now the worlds third largest and second largest in Asia Pacific region with 73.9 million people. According to the Norton report for 2013, India appears to be the ransomware capital of Asia Pacific with 11% victims of this form of virtual extortion. In addition to ransomware, in the last 12 months, 56% of cybercrime victims in India have experienced online bullying, online stalking, online hate crime or other forms of online harassment.

As consumers become more mobile and connected, these conveniences often come at a cost to them and their security. In fact, a staggering 63% of smartphone users in India have experienced some form of mobile cybercrime in the past 12 months. The Norton report finds that many consumers are engaging in risky behaviour that has them playing a game of chance with their private information, putting them at risk of becoming the next victim of cybercriminals.

A large percentage of Indian Wi-Fi users access social networks (61%), shop online (445); and access their bank account (42%) through a public or insecure Wi-Fi connection. Adding to the risk are social network users in India who share their password with others (18%), dont log out of each session (21%), and connect with people they dont know (18%).

Back to the HP security initiative. Fact is that the volume, velocity and variety of data is making it increasingly difficult to analyse and understand where security risks exist within an organisation. Limited resources and failing signature-based solutions are also limit security staffs ability to mount an effective defence.

HP offers advanced, data-driven security technologies designed to empower security operations teams to run more efficiently. This enables staff to focus on deriving meaningful security intelligence from big data and spend less time on system management, product deployment, risk assessment and manual vulnerability searching. For instance, new HP ArcSight solutions identify threats faster and close potential blind spots at the application layer, giving customers greater control over their security environments.

The exploding volume of data that organisations today must manage presents new security challenges as they try to predict, locate and disrupt cyberthreats, said Ranndeep Singh Chonker, country manager, HP Enterprise Security Products, India. The newly expanded HP ArcSight portfolio delivers solutions that help security teams prioritise risk, automate application-level threat detection and streamline security management to reduce exposure and increase effectiveness of protecting valuable data from internal and external theft.

The lines of work and play, office and home, and mobile and rest are all dissolving. What we only need to do is to stay alert and be very cautious when using the internet.