Cyber Bullies

Increased incidents of cyberspace ransom are a serious security threat

Aditya Kakkar

As internet penetration increases in India, cyberspace and associated networks face an asymmetrical threat of cyber-crime, hacktivism and cyber-espionage. Security of the state now involves a multi-dimensional approach which includes safeguarding critical infrastructure such as energy and finance through cyberspace. Agencies which offer real-time responses are the need of the hour.

Unfortunately, government efforts are sometimes inadequate to counter frequent and sophisticated attacks from state and non-state actors. The government must create a favourable ecosystem for scaling up cyber-capabilities among the domestic private sector which still depends on foreign companies for complex solutions. Indian citizens must have access to Indian agencies to combat and neutralise threats that harm the internet ecosystem. India cannot shift to e-governance models if cyberspace security remains compromised.

In early 2017, Kaspersky Lab’s researchers discovered an emerging and dangerous trend: more and more cybercriminals are turning their attention from attacks against private users to targetted ransomware attacks against businesses.

According to managing director, Kaspersky Lab South Asia, Altaf Halde, “The attacks are primarily focused on financial organisations worldwide. Kaspersky Lab’s experts have encountered cases where payment demands amounted to over half a million dollars. The trend is alarming as ransomware actors start their crusade for new and more profitable victims. There are many more potential ransomware targets in the wild, with attacks resulting in even more disastrous consequences.”

Ransomware is a type of malware that, upon infecting a device, blocks access to it or to some or all of the information stored on it. In order to unlock either the device or the data, the user is required to pay a ransom, usually in Bitcoins or another widely used e-currency. The term ransomware covers mainly two types of malware: so-called Windows blockers (they block the OS or browser with a pop-up window) and encryption ransomware. The term also includes select groups of Trojan-Downloaders, namely those that tend to download encryption ransomware upon infection of a PC. The total number of users who encountered ransomware between April 2016 and March 2017 rose by 11.4 per cent compared to the previous 12 months (April 2015 to March 2016) — from 2,315,931 to 2,581,026 users around the world.

Cyber Bullies

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