Ladies and gentlemen, we're under attack. No, Baba Sehgal hasn't released a new music video, but there's another online phenomenon that's equally scary (even if it is ambivalent to chicken fried rice). Recent figures suggest that India ranks fifth in contributing to malicious URLs on the internet. While many may celebrate this as the first time India has made the top five at ANYTHING since Milkha Singh, it's rather worrying.
What is a malicious URL, you may ask? Does my Facebook profile page count as one? Well, if your screen name is Kewl Dewd Chetas, then perhaps it does. But malicious URLs have been in existence since the infancy of the internet. These are internet pages that contain spam, phishing algorithms and malwares that attempt to download themselves on to your computer. Interestingly, the highest percentage of these URLs is prevalent on social media. Most of these can be avoided by purchasing this award-winning anti-malware software called Common Sense, but sadly, Common Sense has not been launched in India just yet. However, you can pre-order Common Sense by not clicking on dodgy Facebook links, not opening anonymous emails telling you you've won a lottery, and just generally not watching free internet pornography. Of course, if you're an engineering student, that's not really an option, and you'll never be eligible for Common Sense.
What is a malicious URL, you may ask? Does my Facebook profile page count as one? Well, if your screen name is Kewl Dewd Chetas, then perhaps it does.
India is also ranked 4th in the worldwide generation of mobile spam messages, but this isn't entirely surprising. In fact, I have just received one of India's most lethal spam messages while writing this piece. A piece of spam so deadly that it's caused my nervous system to shut down out of pure, crippling fear. It says, "Good morning" *shudders*
The reason why spam and malware links are so widespread in India is that Indians, as a general demographic, are most susceptible to being conned by them. Having thought about this a great deal, I have concluded that this susceptibility stems from the fact that Indians are just looking for free stuff. Think of the cheap businessman who scrounges on every penny, and steals sandwiches from the breakfast buffet at every hotel he stays at (booked with discount vouchers, of course). What do you expect him to do when a pop up appears telling him that he's the lucky 500,000th visitor to a website and can claim a free prize. Of course he's going to click on it! What's malware to him, anyway? He's just going to complain about his laptop being slow because his son plays too many video games.
Think of the lonely boy in Jabalpur, trying to watch adult films late at night on a 256kbps internet connection. He's just spent four hours buffering three seconds of a video that is the only pubescent relief he will find for the next four years. Do you realise just how tempting it is when he sees an advertisement with Angelina Jolie's face on it that says, "THIS HOT SINGLE GIRL IS NEAR YOU! CLICK NOW TO HOOK UP FOR FREE WE WON'T TELL ANYONE GOD PROMISE PAKKA PINKY SWEAR" He has nothing to lose (except maybe his virginity). Of course he's going to click on it! And therein lies the problem.
In many ways, the rampant spam and malware in India right now is symptomatic of the Indian mentality— the mentality that makes us believe that even a 0.0001% chance of a deal being legitimate is enough of an excuse to click on it, just so that we don't miss out on winning free goodies. For the moment, I don't see things changing, but one day, when we all manage to install the Common Sense app, maybe we'll see a new dawn. And when that dawn comes, we can all message each other with joy and it reads, "Good morning".