Sunday, September 26, 2010

Commonwealth Games on cyber criminals’ radar

The Commonwealth Games is the latest cyber threat to internet users in the country.

Though it is hard to believe that a sporting event can be a threat, Symantec, the global leader in e security, experts have said that cyber criminals will try their best to exploit the huge influx of sports enthusiasts in Delhi. They will use it as a bait to make large financial gains through malicious internet activity, an expert said.

Cyber criminals have stalked the internet even during the FIFA World Cup 2010 and the Beijing Olympics, the expert said. Also, the ICC World Cup, coming up next year in India, is already under attack. Malicious emails promising tickets for the event have flooded the cyber space.

According to a research carried out by Symantec, cyber criminals propagated spam emails with subjects on World Cup. At least 419 types of scams and emails were in circulation offering tickets to the games, fake accommodation, and free mobile phones to name a few.

In fact, malware also spread through fake videos and football-related notifications claiming to be from a social networking site. Even during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, cyber criminals did the same thing, the expert said. The internet was swamped with malware, with at least 12 million security alerts being reported every day.

“With attackers directly targeting end users and attempting to trick them into downloading malware or divulging sensitive information through social engineering tactics, the upcoming Commonwealth Games are the perfect bait for cyber criminals to target Indian users,” Shantanu Ghosh, vice president, India Product Operations of Symantec, said. “IF people fall prey to such scams, they are bound to suffer heavy losses, mostly monetary.”

Emails and urls with search links about the Commonwealth Games, commonwealth village, New Delhi, and availability of hotels are doing the rounds.

Also, availability of illegal things such as escort services and drugs are the most searched options at present. Cyber experts feel criminals will use these to trap unsuspecting users and malware will spread across the country through botnet attacks. India has the highest instances of botnet attacks.

“Our officials are regularly patrolling the cyber space,” an IT expert and member of the advisory board of the Mumbai Cyber Crime Investigation Cell said.

“We suspect that attacks have already been launched but people will come to know of it later. People should remain cautious and avoid opening unidentified mails or links,” he said.

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