Tuesday June 19, 2018

‘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.

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Twitter bans Russia-based Kaspersky Lab from buying ads

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Live News Events on Your Twitter Timeline, Notifications. Pixabay

Twitter has banned Russia-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab from advertising on its platform, stating that the company “operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices.”

In an open letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Kaspersky Lab’s Founder Eugene Kaspersky has termed the move as “potential political censorship”.

Twitter icon.
Twitter bans ads. Pixabay

“At the end of January, Twitter unexpectedly informed us about an advertising ban on our official accounts where we announce new posts on our various blogs on cybersecurity (including, for example, Securelist and Kaspersky Daily) and inform users about new cyberthreats and what to do about them,” Eugene wrote on Friday.

“In a short letter from an unnamed Twitter employee, we were told that our company ‘operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices,'” he added.

Kaspersky Lab spent around $93,000 to promote its content on Twitter in 2017 and its India advertising share on Twitter was around $13,580.

“No matter how this situation develops, we won’t be doing any more advertising on Twitter this year. “The whole of the planned Twitter advertising budget for 2018 will instead be donated to the @EFF. They do a lot to fight censorship online,” Eugene tweeted on Saturday.

According to a report in Cyberscoop, a Twitter spokesperson pointed towards the September 2017 decree from US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that ordered federal agencies to remove Kaspersky products from their networks.

Also Read: New algorithm may help locate fake Facebook and Twitter accounts

“Kaspersky Lab may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Register. “Twitter is playing into the hands of cybercriminals when it hinders the delivery of important information on protection from cyberthreats,” Eugene said.

“The majority of our promoted content on Twitter has been about cybersafety and research and reports about the information security industry. We believe that this content brings value to a variety of Twitter users.”

“Twitter, if this is a matter of a decision being made in error, please openly admit this; people’d forgive you – everyone makes mistakes! I think that would be the only civilized way to quash any doubts about potential political censorship on Twitter,” Eugene said.

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Fake accounts on Twitter are many. VOA

The Kaspersky Lab founder said that more than two months have passed and the only reply he received from Twitter was the copy of the same boilerplate text.

“Accordingly, I’m forced to rely on another (less subtle but nevertheless oft and loudly declared) principle of Twitter’s – speaking truth to power – to share details of the matter with interested users and to publicly ask that you, dear Twitter executives, kindly be specific as to the reasoning behind this ban,” he said. IANS