India third-biggest threat frontier in cyber world: Symantec

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 25, 2014 05:23 hrs

Terming India a key threat frontier, security software maker Symantec’s annual internet security threat report said the country ranked third in the overall malicious cyber activities in 2013.

According to the report published on Thursday, 5.1 per cent of all malicious cyber activities in the world originated from India in 2013. The country was next only to the US and China. India ranked first in spam generation, while it stood second in terms of malicious code generations.

The report, published every year by Symantec, shares global trends in cyber attacks on the basis of data collected by the company’s global intelligence network, which has 41.5 million attack sensors.

“There has been a significant shift in cyber criminal behaviour, revealing the bad guys are plotting for months before pulling off huge heists, instead of executing quick hits with smaller rewards,” said Symantec India Director (Technology Sales) Tarun Kaura.

The report showed India was not ahead only in launching cyber attacks but was at the receiving end, too. More than 69 per cent of the targeted attacks in the country during the year were on large enterprises, while 66 per cent of email traffic at these companies were spams.

The report also said there was a notable increase in small businesses becoming an easy target for cyber attacks during 2013. Globally, 30 per cent of the total targeted attacks were on small businesses.

“Small- and medium-sized businesses often have less adequate security practices and resources,” the report said. “Attackers are increasingly targeting small businesses that have relationships with larger ones.”

Unlike earlier years, when the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector was the most-affected by cyber attacks in India, there was an increase in attacks on non-traditional sectors like hospitality and manufacturing in 2013. “It’s not that BFSI saw a decline in attacks. But the number of attacks in the new sectors increased,” Kaura said.

Non-traditional industries accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the total number of attacks in 2013, while 33.33 per cent of the attacks were targeted against companies in the manufacturing sector. BFSI accounted for 11.11 per cent of the total attacks during the year.

Additionally, the nature of details stolen in the attacks also changed globally, with attackers targeting personal information like names, birth dates, social security numbers, home addresses and medical records, compared with financial information in earlier years.

Online scamsters

253: Number of data breaches globally during 2013 (8 of those mega breaches)
552 mn: Number of identities exposed during the year

Type of industries targeted

39.92% - Non-traditional
33.33% - Manufacturing
11.11% - BFSI


First in spam mails, second in malicious code and third in overall malicious cyber activity globally in 2013
9.8% zombies found
1.45 billion botnets generated daily
15.3% of malware sources in the country
69% of targetted attacks on Large businesses:
  • 1 in every 1,283 mails were phishing emails
  • 1 in every 231.7 emails bore a virus
  • 65.2% emails were spams

Key observations on India

Over 69% of targeted attacks focus on large enterprises
66% of email traffic in large Indian enterprises is spam
4 in 10 attacks targeted non-traditional industries
9.8% Spam Zombies (computers taken over by spammers) found in India
1.45 billion Botnet spams emitted from India daily

Ranking in terms of contribution to malicious activities

1. US
2. China
3. India
4. Netherlands
5. Germany
6. Russia
7. UK
8. Brazil
9. Taiwan
10. Italy

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