Sunday April 21, 2019

‘Digital drive brings India closer to cyber attack risk’

"Countries like India are developing very fast which opens doors for more cyber attacks," MD of Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific added.

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  • India remains one of the prey of hackers
  • One of the recent attacks included WannaCrypt
  • The most vulnerable targets are the financial institutions

Rajnish Singh

Singapore, July 16: India’s growing economy and digital push have caught the attention of hackers and an increasing wave of cyber attacks could soon badly impact the country, experts from Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab have warned.

India and other South Asian countries are now on the radar of cyber attackers, said experts, adding that the government and corporates need to procure state-of-the-art, New Age security solutions to thwart their plans.

The impact of recent global cyber attacks were clearly visible in India as “WannaCrypt” — that affected 150 countries globally — and the recent “Petya” malware attack hit computers in the country.

“India’s growing economy and digitalisation are really a big concern as cyber attackers have now begun focusing on developing countries with big populations and average incomes,” Eugene Kaspersky, Chairman and Chief Executive of Kaspersky Lab, told IANS on the sidelines of the recently-concluded “Interpol World 2017” conference in Singapore’s Suntec City.

His comments came as the Moscow-based cyber security firm found that the “Petya” attack hit Gateway Terminal India operated by AP Moller-Maersk at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), a facility near Mumbai which is India’s biggest container port.

Cyber attacks
There are considerable hike in malware attacks due to rampant digitization

The terminal was unable to load or unload because of the attack as it failed to identify which shipment belongs to whom.

According to Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Global Research and Analysis Team for APAC at Kaspersky Labs, there was no cyber security threat till 2010 and India was quite safe till then.

But now, India and other “developing countries are most vulnerable, especially the financial sector. We perceive that banks are most vulnerable in India”, Kamluk told IANS.

Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director of Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific, stressed the need to educate people to save them from becoming victims of cyber attacks.

“As India’s economy is growing fast, more and more people are now getting access to Internet. They have 4G access and Android devices are becoming popular. They need to be educated about anti-virus solutions as mandatory for devices and be made aware about not falling for phishing attacks,” Neumeier emphasised.

He suggested that malicious emails or links should also be part of the awareness process.

“Countries like India are developing very fast which opens doors for more cyber attacks,” Neumeier added.

The experts also recalled how over 200,000 users were affected in 150 countries after the “WannaCrypt” virus attack which paralysed computers — with a demand being made for a payment of $300 in bitcoins (crypto-currency or virtual currency) for a system to be unblocked.

Citing reports, Kaspersky Lab said that cyber crime costs the world $450 billion per year, which is almost the annual budget of Russia, China and Japan.

The experts said the hackers target government ministries, banks, utilities, other key infrastructure and companies nationwide, demanding ransom in crypto-currency.

Giving the example of Bangladesh, the experts said the hackers recently made a bank heist in the country and made away with $1 billion in one attack, since the security was vulnerable.

Next Story

IoT in Healthcare at Serious Cyber Attack Risk, Say Experts

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman

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While the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve access and outcomes especially in the rural areas, companies must ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency, say experts.

In recent years, India has seen IoT adoption in education, governance and financial services. The technology has also enabled doctors see and interact with patients in remote telemedicine centres – with the case history and medical data automatically transmitted to the doctor for analysis.

“India has an acute shortage of doctors which impacts both the quality and reach of healthcare services in rural and urban centres,” John Samuel, Managing Director (health and public service) at Accenture, told IANS.

“A digital platform powered by advanced digital technologies can enable continuous remote patient monitoring and reporting, allowing hospitals to extend care to more people, and reduce the burden on healthcare infrastructure,” Samuel added.

According to the “IoT India Congress 2018”, the Indian IoT market is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2016 to $9 billion by 2020 across sectors such as telecom, health, vehicles and homes, among others.

It is emerging as the next big thing to become a $300 billion global industry by 2020 and India is all set to capture at least 20 per cent market share in the next five years, says a Nasscom report.

However, lack of basic security awareness among staff as well as state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions has made the healthcare industry a favourite target for hackers.

A 2016 report from cybersecurity firm SecurityScorecard found that healthcare is the fifth highest in ransomware counts among all industries, and more than 77 per cent of the entire healthcare industry has been infected with malware since August 2015.

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Among them was the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack in 2016 which affected over 300,000 machines across 150,000 countries, including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

“Despite suffering from ransomware attacks, organisations remain unprepared for the next round of large-scale attacks,” Yariv Fishman, Head of Product Management (Cloud Security and IoT) at Check Point Software Technologies, told IANS in an email interaction.

Fishman pointed out that it is not mandatory for medical device manufacturers to include cybersecurity capabilities as part of their offerings.

Once integrated into a hospital, medical devices are fully utilised to meet patient care requirements.

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As a result, even if a software patch that may prevent a potential cyber-attack is available, it usually takes lot of time for implementation.

Other reasons include old or unpatched operating systems and flat networks in which, guests, patients, doctors and connected medical devices, all share the same network.

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman.

“They also need to segment parts of the network in order to contain malware attacks and mitigate the potential risk of one part of the network attacking other parts and integrate threat prevention solutions,” he noted. (IANS)