India witnessed more than 27,000 cyber security threat incidents in the first half of 2017, according to Minister of State for Electronics and IT P P Chaudhary’s reply in Rajya Sabha. Threats reported include phishing attacks, website intrusions and defacements or damages to data as well as ransomware attacks, the minister’s reply added.
“As per the information reported to and tracked by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In),” the number of cyber security incidents reported were:
- 2014: 44,679
- 2015: 49,455
- 2016: 50,362
- 2017 (till June): 27,482
CERT-In is an emergency response team set up under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for dealing with a range of cyber-attacks. Apart from this, the Government of India has four Sectoral Computer Emergency Response Teams to address Cyber Security Threats in Power Systems: Transmission, Thermal, Hydro and Distribution.
Chaudhary’s revelations in the Rajya Sabha comes at a time when an increasing number of Cyber attacks and data leaks have been reported in the country. Authorities including the telecom regulator TRAI are also noticing the threat posed by mobile applications that collect sensitive user data. While India’s top court is looking at whether privacy should be a fundamental right—both offline and online–which will affect how companies handle user data in India.
Cybersecurity issues in India
Here is a list of cyber security incidents that affected India in the past one year.
- Mirai botnet malware: A botnet malware named Mirai took over the Internet targeting home router users and other IoT based devices. The malware affected 2.5 million IoT devices; it’s not clear how many systems were affected in India. CERT—In had also issued an advisory regarding the attack back in October 2016.
- WannaCry: Ransomware WannaCry swept the world in May. CERT-In immediately put out an advisory notice. Few instances of the ransomware were reported to have hit banks in India, and some businesses in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat as well during the first wave of the attack. Railwaire users were also most affected by the ransomware.
- Petya: India was also on the top 10 list of countries to be hit by Petya ransomware attacks, with the country faring worst among other Asia Pacific (APAC) countries, cyber security firm Symantec said in a blog post last month. Globally, India took the 7th spot with less than 20 organisations being affected as per the Symantec’s analysis.
- Data breaches: Zomato said in May that it was affected by a data breach which led to details of 7.7 million users being stolen. The leaked information, listed for sale on a Darknet market. The company was, however, able to contact the hacker and take down the data. Reliance Jio was also affected by a data breach this month; a website called magicapk.com went up last month, allowing anyone to search for personal details of Jio customers. However, this also was taken down after the site went viral.