Technology
Ransomware, Digital India and the growing cyber threats
The recent attack by 'WannaCry' ransomware had left several organisations and countries locked-in. The ease with which this ransomware has spread across several countries raises big questions on cybersecurity issues. This worrisome situation also raises questions on security and safety aspects on initiatives like 'Digital India' that aim at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and expect to further accelerate awareness, availability and adoption of digital technologies. Unfortunately, the benefits of digital payments also increase risks and the principal concern over the rush to a digital economy is the growing threats of cyber-attacks, and data leakage, says a research note.
 
In its note on 'Digital Payments - Analysing the cyber landscape', KPMG, said, "Keeping pace with the growth of digitisation, the cyber threats are not far behind. As many as 11,592 cases of cybercrime were reported across India in 2015. The growth in cybercrime coupled with proliferation of digital economy is as close as it can get to a death-knell, if not dealt appropriately." KPMG had also conducted a survey on cybersecurity concerns around digital payments. 
 
According to the tax and advisory service provider, the lack of awareness among customers and the evolving digital payment ecosystem have amplified the chances of exposure to cybersecurity risks such as online fraud, information theft, and malware or virus attacks. It said, "Security should be the shared responsibility of government, organisations as well as the end users. Organisations should regularly update their software and fraud detection systems while the users should be aware of the basic security features. The government should focus more on educating the customers as well as enforcing basic security standards for organisations. Also, all the breaches should be mandatorily reported."
 
 
The pace of shift to digital payments has significantly increased with the strong move towards a cashless economy. The main factors that influenced this growth include increasing mobile phone penetration, lower cost of service delivery, banks discouraging customers from visiting branches, the unorganised sector supporting digital payments and the demonetisation drive.
 
While macro factors clearly indicate a favourable environment for digital payments, which is also being supported by the approach being taken by the regulator, KPMG says several challenges remain before India becomes truly digital. These challenges include wide use of feature phones, especially in rural areas, patchy digital connectivity in parts of the country, acceptance and change in mind set, lack of awareness and security in transactions.
 
 
KPMG says with initiatives like 'DigiShala', the Indian government aims at building a conducive ecosystem for a cashless economy. Other initiatives like national optical fibre network (NOFN) and introduction of unified payments interface (UPI) and Bharat interface for Money (BHIM) can help support faster adoption and transition to digital payments.
 
 
However, it added, this sudden surge and change in end user profile has led to various challenges in the digital payment ecosystem. "Cybersecurity is one of the most critical challenges faced by stakeholders of the digital payment ecosystem. With more and more users preferring digital payments, the chances of getting exposed to cybersecurity risks like online fraud, information theft, and malware or virus attacks are also increasing. Lack of awareness and poor digital payment ecosystem are some of the primary reasons that have led to increase in these attacks," it added.
 
KPMG says, "A robust regulatory framework, an effective customer redressal framework, fool proof security measures to enable confidence and tryst, incentives for large participation and benefits similar to cash transactions, such as ease of use, universal acceptability, perceived low cost of transaction, convenience and immediate settlement, are some measures that can help ensure long-term success for digital payments."
 
 
"The larger question is who is responsible and accountable for a cashless economy. The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have clearly stated that cashless economy is the way forward. In this scenario, we need to answer some important questions, like is there adequate governance mechanism and public policy intellect to cope with the impact of digital or cyber terrorism and warfare? Are the three pillars of our democracy, legislative, executive and judiciary skilled and ready to take on the challenges of cybercrime? If the economy runs on digital, should the government report on cyber security performance? Do companies have an obligation to their customers and investors to be transparent on their cybersecurity performance? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered for a thriving yet secure digital economy," KPMG concluded.

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

6 months ago

We do real time active attack detections but USA based legacy vendors keep their businesses warm & ticking Mahesh Bhatt

Thailand threatens to block Facebook
Thai authorities threatened to block Facebook on Tuesday if the social network giant does not remove content that is deemed threatening to national security or offensive to the royal family.
 
The military junta, which has increased internet censorship since assuming power in the May 2014 coup, demanded, through the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, that Facebook remove 131 posts on its site by Tuesday morning, or face legal action, Efe news reported. 
 
The Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA) warned Facebook's subsidiary company in Thailand that it would disconnect the content delivery network (CDN) originating Facebook's server if the social media company failed to comply with the Thai government's request.
 
Last week, TISPA sent an email notifying Facebook executives in Thailand about the Thai government's demand.
 
The internet service providers, represented by TISPA, admitted they are under government pressure and that the military junta has demanded the closure of the distribution network to block illegal materials. 
 
"This action may affect the entire delivery services of www.facebook.com to customers in Thailand," TISPA said in an email published in the Bangkok Post on Tuesday. 
 
According to the authorities, about 6,900 websites and online posts have been blocked in the country since 2015. 
 
In April, the government ordered a prohibition on any online contact with the three critics of the royal family, threatening criminal consequences to those interacting with them. 
 
Thailand's lese-majeste laws are among the strictest in the world, with up to 15 years of imprisonment to those who disseminate messages the authorities consider offensive to the royal family.
 
About 105 people have been arrested under the lese-majeste charges after the 2014 coup, 49 of whom have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, and another 64 are in custody awaiting trial.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Ransomware attack had 'nearly zero' impact in India: Minister
Trying to instil confidence among people, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said the ongoing cyber attack by ransomware virus 'WannaCrypt' had nearly zero impact in India.
 
"We are strengthening our cyber security. After talking to Microsoft, we had asked people to install patch system in March. This ongoing attack not only had minimum, but nearly zero per cent impact, in India. We are strengthening our areas," the minister told India TV in Hindi at its conclave "Samvaad".
 
On March 14 this year, Microsoft released a security update which addressed the vulnerability in the 16-year-old Windows XP operating system that the hackers behind the massive ransomware attack exploited and created havoc in 150 countries.
 
After infecting over two lakh computers in several countries, the global virus attack continued for the third day on Monday, with more reports of hacking pouring in from India, China and Japan as offices re-opened after a tumultuous weekend. The ransomware locks up the computer with the group which carried out the attack asking for $300 payment in bitcoins to send an unlock key.
 
The virus attacks the system after a person, whose computer has not been protected, opens up an unsuspecting mail, often from people known to him or her.
 
In Kerala, computers of two village panchayats were hit, with messages demanding $300 in virtual currency to unlock the files.
 
Officials who opened the computer at the Thariyode panchayat office in the hilly district of Wayanad found that four of their computers had been hacked.
 
Likewise, another village panchayat at Aruvapulam near Konni in Pathanamthitta district got a similar virus message when their computer was switched on. IT experts were working on these systems.
 
In West Bengal's West Midnapore district, at least eight computers of the state-run electricity distributor were affected. Experts were ascertaining whether it was the same malware virus behind the world's biggest ransomware attack.
 
The government on Sunday said it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" to prevent any major cyber damage from the ransomware. 
 
According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" by instructing CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team) to gather "all the information of the reported ransomware".
 
"MeitY has initiated contact with relevant stakeholders in public and private sector to 'patch' their systems as prescribed in the advisory issued by CERT-IN. MeitY has also requested Microsoft India to inform all their partners and customers to apply relevant patches," the ministry said in a statement.
 
On May 13, CERT-IN had issued an advisory for both reactive and preventive actions to deal with the ransomware.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Sunil Rebello

6 months ago

Ransomware attack had 'nearly zero' impact in India.
This could have been because BITCOIN is not a valid currency in India.
Cyber Security is the next major IT item similar to Y2K.
Ransomware or other similar viruses have not infected the cloud data, as yet.
All have to be on the alert all the time.
NEVER OPEN ANY UNKNOWN / USELESS ATTACHMENTS

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