Chennai, June 4 The potent mix of an economic slowdown, the easy availability of tool-kits to build malicious code for cyber attacks, and the sizeable number of techies without jobs in both developing and developed economies has led to a thriving underground economy — cyber crime. And India is no exception to this.
“While India is a target for cyber attacks, it is slowly becoming a base to generate malicious codes that can be hosted in a server located anywhere in the world to attack computers globally,” said Mr David Freer, Vice-President (Consumer Business), Symantec, Asia-Pacific and Japan. He did not give any India-specific data.
The $6.2-billion US-based company provides security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and companies secure and manage their information-driven world.
There are indications that Russian and Eastern European crime syndicates are involved in many of the global cyber attacks.
This may be because participants in the “underground economy” in these countries are often able to operate with less fear of apprehension, mainly because of the lack of extradition laws, budget constraints affecting law enforcement, and the backing provided by well-organised crime syndicates, says the Symantec Report on the Underground Economy.
A number of groups and organisations have been active in the trade of fraudulent goods and services in the underground economy.
The majority of these groups work through a number of Web-based forums devoted to online fraud, Mr Freer said.
“India is similar to Eastern Europe. In the underground economy many people are making good money. For instance, one can provide details of a bank account for a price ranging between $2 and $20 depending up on the amount of data collected,” Mr Freer told Business Line.
The service charge for hosting phishing scam ranges between $2 and $80. Such services are advertised with guaranteed uptime.
Scammers may also acquire domain names by using stolen currency and credit cards. Additionally, some advertisers offer rates for daily, weekly, and monthly hosting. Periodic hosting services range from less than $1 a day to $15 a day, says the Symantec report.
According to Mr Freer, awareness among Indians on the need to secure their personal computers from cyber attacks is very low — in fact, lower than in any other country in the Asia-Pacific and Japan. For instance, India saw an average of 836 bots — software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet — per day during 2008. There were 95,790 distinct bot-infected computers observed in the country during the period, says the report.
While the need for security software has never been greater, consumers here are still oscillating between “how much security is enough?” to “it cannot happen to me” mindset, he said.
By T. E. Raja Simhan