35% of internet users in India affected by web-borne threats in 2020: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 06, 2021

Online cyber threats increased significantly over the past year, according to a recent report by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

According to the report, 35 per cent of online users in India were attacked by web-borne threats in 2020.

“From online shopping to e-learning, the number of users online increased multi-fold this year, and so did the cyber threats targeted at them,” Kaspersky said. It detected and blocked 133,318,878 internet- borne threats in 2020. This affected 35 per cent of the internet users in India, placing us on the 43rd rank globally.

The attacks were social engineering attacks wherein a user was made to download a malicious file to his/ her device by tricking them into thinking that it was a legitimate program in the guise of various scams related to Covid-19 and other trending issues throughout the year.

“Remotely working employees and students were vigorously targeted by cybercriminals due to the lack of necessary security solutions on their devices,” it said.

As of January 2021, the number of global users encountering various threats using popular online learning platforms as a lure reached 270,171 — a 60 per cent increase when compared to the first half of 2020, as per the report.

Local threats i.e. offline cyberthreats impacting users also emerged in 2020. 45 per cent of online users in India were attacked by local threats. Kaspersky products detected and blocked 200,238,155 local threats on the consumer devices between January-December 2020, as per the report.

These local cyber threats include rootkits and removable tools like malicious USB drives and other offline methods. Brute force attacks on Remote Desktop Protocols (RDPs) also saw a significant increase of 242 per cent globally. In India alone, 36 million (36356139) attacks were detected in 2020 between January- November.

The share of attacks hosted by servers in India was 0.19 per cent. 7,714,258 incidents in the period January-December 2020 were recorded, placing India in 18th place worldwide.

“While spear phishing and web-skimming were prominent threat vectors in 2020, the cybercriminals also used social media platforms to target their victims and gain financial credentials and other sensitive data,” the report said.

Saurabh Sharma, Senior Security Researcher (GReAT), Kaspersky (APAC) said, “The threat landscape in India, as well as in the APAC region has been constantly evolving and the threats are becoming more and more sophisticated and targeted in nature. The threats nowadays are not only looming over enterprises and government bodies, but also are targeted at individual internet users, as they can be assumed to be vulnerable and an easy target by the nefarious groups of cybercriminals in order to obtain larger financial gains from them, with very little investment. Most recently, the trend of targeting attacks within the country have also been observed, in order to get hold of some sensitive data that can be misused by cybercriminals.”

“As we look forward to building a digital nation, it becomes equally necessary for us to be prepared to fight against the perils of the world wide web. Cyber Criminal groups have been more active than ever in 2020 and will continue to try and exploit our vulnerabilities for their financial gains,” said Dipesh Kaura, General Manager, Kaspersky (South Asia).

“The best way to avoid being a target is to understand the evolving threat landscape, and develop a robust security system for our devices that will help us in keeping our data safe. It is important for well informed and cyber mature online users to spread awareness amongst their family and peers. The policy of ‘each one- teach one’ will help us go a long way in magnifying cybersecurity awareness in India,” added Kaura.

Published on March 06, 2021

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