Coronavirus effect: Cyberattacks on enterprises go down in India; individuals new target

March 11, 2020 2:30 AM

This network, comprising of 4,000 physical and virtual devices and 400 device architectures, varied connectivity flavours, receives over 3 million attacks on an average everyday.

Subex monitors these deployments through its vast honeypot network across 62 cities globally (15 of which are in India). (Representative image)Subex monitors these deployments through its vast honeypot network across 62 cities globally (15 of which are in India). (Representative image)

By Srinath Srinivasan

Coronavirus has not only impacted trade globally, it is also directly impacting the amount of cyberattacks happening in India. New findings from Subex, a global telecom services and security provider based in Bengaluru, reveal that within a month, the number of critical attacks on IoT and cyberdeployments in India have come down by 2,100 to 29,900 in February from 32,000 in January.

Prayukth KV, CMO, IoT, Subex, said, “Coronavirus has been changing the priorities of the hackers. Every year, the number of attacks only rise. Especially as we approach the middle of the year, the attacks peak. This year, there has been a dip. A first in the last 18 months.”

Subex monitors these deployments through its vast honeypot network across 62 cities globally (15 of which are in India). This network, comprising of 4,000 physical and virtual devices and 400 device architectures, varied connectivity flavours, receives over 3 million attacks on an average everyday.

There has been a shift in the nature of the attacks, according to Prayukth.

“The hackers have shifted their attention to tactics like phishing, attacking individual employee accounts with emails and social media posts. In a panic stricken environment, this is easier to do compared to attacking large enterprises with malware,” explained Prayukth.

As per the latest data provided by him, in India, there were 98 new malware detected in January. But in February, it came down to 23. These malware take various forms. In January, the number of variants stood at 730, but in February, it has come down to 217. To further substantiate this behavioural change of the hackers, Prayukth pointed out that except for manufacturing sector, all the other sectors monitored by Subex’s Indian honeypot network have seen a drastic fall in cyber attack.

He said that people easily fall for messages related to coronavirus because there is a lot of confusion and panic around the topic today. “Remote working further adds to the larger gameplan of the hackers. Personal devices of employees with all kinds of data, including work data come under attack,” added Prayukth.

This, he said, will become potential bots which can be controlled by hackers in the long run. “There will be no visible impact immediately. With time, hackers may even monitor every single operation that the employees do on their phones or other devices via the spyware/ malware running in the background,” said Prayukth.

Interestingly, this trend has been fluctuating in Korea out of all the other countries monitored by the company. Currently, very little can be done to find the exact number of individual devices or accounts affected and to track all the malicious pieces of codes existing online.

“Unfortunately, we have no proper way to report individual attacks or to even detect it at scale. This is especially true to India. People rarely report any such attack as well,” stated Prayukth, talking about staying safe from cyber attacks.

Earlier this month, a Reuters report put out a finding that the amount of gaming app downloads jumped to 39% in February, boosted by Chinese who are stuck indoors and are turning towards mobile gaming to keep themselves occupied.

“Devices of the individuals who stay indoors or are under treatment are easier to attack. They will download or click on anything that may offer entertainment or news about the virus in their vicinity. These people should be extra careful,” told Prayukth.

He also said that new sites, shopping sites, porn sites and forums are other potential places where clickabaits could be set in the form of attractive ads or gossips. “In 26 days the whole trend has shifted globally. The hackers are executing this in a planned way. Once businesses come back on track, this trend will go back to ransomeware being planted in individual devices or enterprises. We should know this and play safe,” added Prayukth. He further recommended that people have all the latest security patches and updates installed on their devices to avoid any loss.

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