Beware! youve got spam

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Jan 16 2012, 07:42am hrs
The digital world is getting dangerous by the day. Imagine, clicking on an email in your inbox and getting conned.

Today, India might have reached 100 million internet users, but the country also tops the list when it comes to spam emails and phishing crimes. More than 35% of the cyber crime cases in our country are related to spams and there have been only three convictions till date.

The situation is going from bad to worse when one talks about spam victims in India. Last week, authorities arrested six foreign nationals suspected of defrauding hundreds of people using text message and email scams. Last month, Nasscom revealed that 50% of the 6,00,000 fresh engineers every year are soft targets for fake job letters. At least five tech companies amongst the top ten have showed concerns that fresh candidates are being conned through fake emails offering job letters to them, says Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president, Nasscom.

According to Symantec, phishing on non-Indian brands with Indian geo-location saw a huge increase of around 61.47% in November last year on a monthly basis. Between October 2010 and October 2011, all Indian brands targeted in phishing attacks were in the banking sector. 37 non-Indian brands were attacked that were hosted in India. Bangalore tops the list of cities that hosted phishing sites in India followed by New Delhi. Mumbai and Hyderabad are on the 3rd and 4th place respectively.

Symantec India managing director Shantanu Ghosh says, Over 70% of all the emails that go around the world are spam mails and a very high percentage of these are dangerousespecially the ones that divert you to a website through a link. Social media can be more dangerous than any other form of spam. Posting all your personal information on a social website to all the friends makes it easy for the spammer to draft a fraud email for the victim. These emails usually appear from people you already know. Earlier these kind of spams were only restricted to celebrities.

According to Kaspersky Lab officials, the maximum spam and phishing cases happen in India. The main reason behind India topping is increasing internet penetration and accelerated use of social websites like Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Social networking sites have long been exploited by spammers advertising pharmaceuticals or spreading malware, and user accounts have been consistently targeted by phishers. But spams in November last year included numerous mass mailings related to social networking sites.

Darya Gudkova, spam analyst at Kaspersky Lab says, India has been leading the rating of countries-spam sources throughout last year. In 2011, the number of infected computers used for sending spam increased in Asia and Latin America regions. One of the reasons is that although internet communications are quickly developing, the level of IT security threat awareness among population is very low in these countries. For cyber criminals, it is much easier to construct the botnets (networks of infected computers). Moreover India doesnt have anti-spam legislation.

Numbers reveal the seriousness of no legislation in this space. From August 15, 1995 when internet was commercially introduced in our country till today, there have been only three cyber crime conventions in 15 years. There has been a 700% increase in cyber crime in last 3 years. For every 500 instances of cyber crime in India, only 50 get reported to the police and only one gets registered as an official police report.

Pavan Duggal, a cyber law consultant and advocate in the Supreme Court says, Till date there have been only three convictions under cyber crime. The Indian IT Act is silent on spam. So no action can be taken against spammers. Almost 35% of the crimes in the cyber space are related to spams.