Ransomware top threat for Indians in 2021, crypto scams surge


(IANS) Cybercriminals continued to exploit people’s screen habits formed during lockdown to spread scams and ransomware was the top threat for Indians in 2021, followed by crypto scams, a new report showed on Wednesday.

Cybersecurity researchers observed a 38 per cent increase in ransomware attacks targeting consumers globally, when comparing the last five months of 2021 to the first five months of the year, whereas for India, that number stands at 65 per cent.

On the mobile side, adware and fleeceware were among the top threats, according to global security company Avast.

“The pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of everyone’s lives, and that includes the cyberworld too,” said Michal Salat, director of threat intelligence at Avast.

“Attackers’ methods are becoming more sophisticated. Cybercriminals are using techniques that make them harder to spot and carrying out more personalised cyber attacks. They are also adding new spins on tried and tested techniques, especially in social engineering type of attacks like scams,” Salat added.

Businesses globally also experienced an increased number of attacks during the June-October period to the tune of 32 per cent.

However, for India, this number was less than the global average and stood at 19 per cent.

In general, phishing attacks continued to increase during 2021.

The chances of businesses encountering phishing scams has increased globally by 40 per cent in the last five months of the year but was much lower in India with 13 per cent.

“Consumers, too, continue to be targeted by phishing scams with the increase in global (24 per cent) and India (23 per cent) figures being nearly the same,” the report noted.

This year, a wide variety of new threats aimed at profiting from or mining cryptocurrencies at users’ expenses were reported.

Some of the main ones that impacted many countries around the world were Crackonosh, and BluStealer.

In addition to Crackonosh and BlueStealer, the researchers also found cryptocurrency-stealing malware that was distributed through HackBoss, a Telegram channel which, at the time of discovery, had stolen over $560,000 from victims.

In September, the researchers found more than 19,300 Android apps that potentially exposed user data due to an incorrect configuration of the Firebase database — an Android tool that developers can use with the purpose of storing user data.

This affected a wide range of different apps, including lifestyle, fitness, gaming, food delivery and mailing apps in regions around the world.

“Cybercriminals kept up many of their tricks this year, using social engineering to spread malware to get their hands on people’s money, abusing technology such as stalkerware to violate people’s privacy or deceiving vulnerable audiences into paying for fleeceware apps or unneeded tech support,” said Salat.

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