With increasing number of cybercrimes, India walking a tightrope between health emergency and cyber security

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Amid the pandemic outbreak tensions, the number of cybercrimes has spiked. Ministry of Home Affairs officials say that there has been an 86 percent increase in cybercrime cases in India in the past four weeks. The scams range from small-scale such as free Netflix subscriptions and mobile recharges to the most brazen ones such as the sale of the world’s largest statue in Gujarat for $4bn.

With the nationwide lockdown in order to ‘flatten the curve’, banks and other service providers have been operating with minimum staff and increasing number of customers have inclined to online payment of their bills and other transactions. This has led the consumers to become more vulnerable to cyber threats with phishers attacking them with several schemes so they can steal data from phones, including the sensitive data.

“Phishing and scamming of account cases have increased manifold. In Maharashtra alone, such cases have increased by 25 percent in the last two weeks,” said a senior officer in Maharashtra cybercrime department. Additionally, Internal Security officials have stated that scammers have even created counterfeit “PM CARES Fun” payments interface which many Indians and NRIs have fallen prey to. So far, over 8,300 complaints have been filed from “individuals across India and NRIs who have donated thousands of dollars into fake accounts”.

Some of the common subjects cybercriminals have mainly be using include

  • The mask that can prevent coronavirus now
  • How to protect your body from Covid-19
  • Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO – donate now
  • Fight Covid-19 together! Don’t give up!
  • Feeling helpless against corona?

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team and ReBIT, has recently issued warnings about cyber threats and asked banks and other financial service providers to beware.

Last modified: April 7, 2020

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