Cyber criminals find new targets in tier-II cities

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Metros and tier I cities were always considered hotbeds for cyber criminals due to high internet penetration. However, with the increasing popularity of e-commerce and mobile internet, tier II cities have become the latest targets.

Unlike in the past, cyber criminals have started to focus on prosperous tier II locations, says Anand Naik, managing director — sales, India and Saarc of Symantec. Emerging cities are facing the risk of cyber-attacks with a sizeable 25 per cent of bot-infected computers coming from cities such as Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar, Surat, Kochi, Jaipur, Vishakhapatnam and Indore, he added.

With mobile phones becoming ubiquitous, cyber criminals have found their footing in previously unexplored geographies. Mobile internet and easily downloadable apps have paved way for effortless malware attacks.

“In just the past nine months, the number of apps including the most aggressive forms of mobile adware has increased by 210 per cent in India,” Niak pointed out.

Location and device information can be legitimately collected through advertising networks. We expect increased use in mobile adware as more companies seek to drive revenue growth through mobile ads. This includes a more aggressive and potentially malicious approach toward the monetisation of free mobile apps,” he added.

Mobile adware is a nuisance that disrupts user experience and can potentially expose location details, contact information and device identifiers to cyber criminals. It sneaks onto a user device when they download an app and often sends popup alerts to the notification bar, adds icons, changes browser settings and gathers personal information.

As users shift to mobile and cloud, so do attackers. As activity increases in tier II cities, criminals only tend to follow.

“Cyber criminals are similar to legitimate (mobile) application developers. They focus on the most profitable platforms. As development barriers are removed, mobile threats will be able to leverage a huge library of shared code,” says Charles Renert, vice-president of Websense Security Labs.

According to McAfee Labs’ quarterly security report, growth in malware slowed slightly this quarter but the overall number topped 100 million samples. Mobile malware almost doubled the previous quarter’s total and the Android platform remains the largest target.

Android was the leading mobile operating system in the Indian market during the first half of the year with 56.4 per cent share followed by Symbian at a distant 17.4 per cent and BlackBerry at 12.1 per cent. According to CyberMedia Research, mobile handset sales topped 100 million units during the first half of the year and smartphone shipments crossed 5.5 million units. Tier II cities have been found to show equal enthusiasm while buying smart and feature phones.


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