Over a period of the last few years, our economy has grown steadily, as a result of tremendous growth within the soft (IT) industry. India, today, even after recent knocks, can still boast of a pretty robust and formidable IT industry and infrastructure. Our industry along with our lives are becoming increasingly machine dependent.
“With the rise of electronic payment methods and digital currency, our monetary throughput too, is now but a function of computer science and Information Technology!”
However, all that, just like anything else worthy of a mark, doesn’t come without unintended ramifications. One of them is the rise and sophistication of cybercrimes- which I would actually attribute to our own ignorance, rather than lack of capability to deal with them as suggested by several American and Canadian sources.
In the year 2018, India was 4th most targeted country in the world; speaking of cybercrimes committed. In 2019, when the last set of data came in, we were the 3rd most targeted country after the UK and Canada. The total amount lost to cybercriminals within the past 12 months, stands at a whopping 1.24 trillion INR.
Over 22,000 websites have been hacked in India between the months of April 2017 and January 2018. As per the information presented by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, over 493 websites were affected by malware propagation out of which 114 websites are run by the government. Rs 1.24 trillion is the amount lost in India in the past 12 months due to cyber crime.
Following are some of the top cybercrimes committed in India in recent times, that came to limelight-
Great Indian Vishing Fraud
Phishing is a form of attack where cyber criminals pose as legitimate sources to get the victims to reveal their sensitive information through fraudulent Emails, Instant Messages, Custom Designed Gift Coupons etc. Vishing is a form of Phishing Attack that is carried out specifically via phone calls (Voice + Phishing = Vishing).
In the August of 2018, 3 individuals were arrested from Navi Mumbai by Maharashtra Police cyber cell and later 2 more of their accomplices were nabbed from Pune. They were involved in fraudulent activities involving transfer of amounts from bank accounts of as many as 150 victims by the time of their arrest.
The gang would routinely target people with little online know-how, and get them to reveal their sensitive information by posing as ICICI/HDFC bank executives and forge documents based on their information. They would then authorize transactions through a relay of fake accounts before eventually blocking the numbers.
“Within a span of 5 months they had wrested nearly INR 7.5 Cr from various sources.”
UIDAI Database Hack
UIDAI, or Unique Identification Authority of India, an independent department of the Government of India, is best known for Aadhar Card- a piece of unique identification document that acts as primary identification proof pan India.
Aadhar Documentations include several critical pieces of information about a person like- Address, Contact Number, Name, PAN Card details, IFSC Codes, Biometric Signatures, Age, etc, which if falls into wrong hands can cause significant damage to the benefactor.
January 2018 witnessed a massive data breach of personal records of 1.1 Billion Indian Aadhaar cardholders. UIDAI revealed that around 210 Indian Government websites had leaked Aadhaar details of people online.
Brace of the tremor ahead!
“Anonymous sellers found were selling Aadhaar information for Rs.500 over WhatsApp!”
ATM Systems Hacked!
In July of 2018 cybercriminals hacked into Canara bank’s ATM servers and swept away upwards of 20,00,000 INR from 50 different bank accounts. When the hackers were apprehended, on the 5th of August 2018, from New Delhi, they were found to have been holding details of more than 300 users, who were in line as next potential targets.
Malware attack against Cosmos bank:
An attack that shook India’s entire 1,038.76 billion USD banking sector to its core, took place in August of 2018, with Cosmos Bank, Pune being the victim. It was a malware attack directed against the switching system that acts as an interacting module between the payments gateway and centralized banking solution.
A total of 94,00,00,000 INR was siphoned off to shell bank accounts based out of Hong Kong. In all, a total of 14,000 Visa and Rupay transactions from more than 450 cards across 28 countries were affected.
Phishing Attack Against An IT Giant
This particular attack that garnered National Attention was carried out in the April of 2019 against India’s 3rd largest IT firm via the Gift Card Phishing Method. Sensitive information belonging to 110 clients was compromised and some 82 employees were investigated.
Healthcare Data Hacked
Some of our Prime Healthcare Websites fell victim to a cyber attack recently in 2019. Hackers managed to penetrate these websites and steal about 6.8 million records belonging to patients and doctors. The blood trail was traced back to China based sources.
Vulnerabilities within the cloud based databases used by medical institutions happened to be the prime motivation for hackers to attempt an exploit on an “easy target”. These critical mistakes as well as the sources of attack were exposed by renown security researcher Bob Diachenko during a security audit.
Justdial Database Breach
Justdial India’s leading local search platform, found itself in troubled waters when a loose end exposed important customer data like name, email address, phone number, address, gender, etc leading the 12,87,47,00,00,000 INR Giant to suspend all operations for a week.
Unprotected API that was exploited by cybercriminals was later found to be the cause behind the breach.
So these were some of the major cybercrimes that have been committed in India in recent past. Government data puts the number of cyber crime victims in India at 131.2 million for 2019, against a worldwide tally of 350 million. The same tally states 81% Indians are alarmed about their privacy, are you one of them? Let us know in the comments below.