Smartphones prone to cyber threats

Smartphones prone to cyber threats

By DIBYENDU MONDAL | New Delhi | 3 December, 2017

The growing use of smartphones and smart devices among the masses, with little or no knowledge about their security features, has put thousands of people at risk of malware threats and hacking.

India accounts for 30%-35% of the total global mobile malware attacks annually, while in November 2017 alone, an infection rate of 30.8% was recorded within the country, according to a report by Kaspersky Lab.

Shrenik Bhayani, South Asia general manager of Kaspersky Lab, told The Sunday Guardian, “These days, hardly anybody has a desk telephone and the growing use of smart mobile phones and their different applications, including mobile banking and internet banking, with little knowledge about their security features, has put people’s privacy and confidential information at risk. Users hardly have any knowledge about anti-viruses or malware protection toolkits in their smartphones. We need to educate people; we will launch an awareness campaign for the safe usage of mobile phones.”

He further added that even manufacturers do not pay much attention to the security aspect of the device, but what they do in terms of security is more on the compliance part.

Not only smartphones, other smart devices like smart watches, smart TVs, routers and even cameras that connect to the internet, are prone to cyber security breach and malware attacks.

Altaf Halde, Cyber Security Global Business Head of Network Intelligence, told this newspaper, “Smart devices such as smart watches, smart TVs, routers and cameras hardly have software update features. They also have little firmware and other security features. These devices connect to each other through internet and build the growing Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon, a network of devices equipped with embedded technology that allows them to interact with each other or the external environment. Because of the large number and variety of devices, the IoT has become an attractive target for cyber criminals. By successfully hacking IoT devices, criminals are able to spy on people, blackmail them, and even discreetly make them their partners in crime.”

According to experts, the easy availability of applications and knowledge over the internet about hacking and snooping through mobile phones is making many “bad” guys choose this path.

India has also been witnessing a sharp rise in the number of cyber crimes. A total of 11,592 cybercrime cases were registered in 2015, representing an increase of approximately 20.5% over the previous year, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.

A total of 8,121 persons were arrested during 2015 in connection with cybercrime offences, representing a 41.2% increase over 2014. The maximum number of persons arrested was in Uttar Pradesh.

According to security experts, the fast digitalisation process without the development of critical infrastructure has also made the cyber world in the country more prone to cyber attacks and threats in the coming years.

Vitaly Kamluk, Head of Research Centre, Asia Pacific, Kaspersky Lab, told The Sunday Guardian: “There is a lack of cooperation among Government of India officials and manufacturers or their research and development teams, but there is a lot of support from the government for the development of the infrastructure. There is a lot more research that we need do to tackle the newer forms of attacks and for this, we need support from the government. We do share information with them on threat perception, whenever required. However, we want to interact more with the Indian government.”

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