Phishing attacks, the most common form of cyber crime, are on a rise, both in India and globally. According to a recent report by Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab, 37.3 million users around the world were subjected to phishing attacks in 2012-13, up from 87 per cent a year ago. Roughly 10 per cent - 3.7 million annually or around 10,000 per day - of these attacks were targeted at India, which is the third biggest victim after Russia and the US.
The purpose of phishing is to steal the sensitive personal information and use it to commit financial frauds. The attacks are directed through either emails or websites. Kaspersky found that 87.9 per cent of attacks were launched when users were surfing the web services of Yahoo, Facebook, Google and Amazon being targeted the most by hosting fake copies of these websites. The next most common targets included banks and other financial institutions, representing 20.64 per cent of all identified attacks. Surprisingly, attackers also targeted servers of tax and customs agencies, car companies, medical institutions, oil and transportation companies.
"The more popular a website is, the more frequently malicious users copy it and, as a result, there is a higher probability that a user will run into a fake version as he surfs the web," says the report.
In its report, Kaspersky also pointed out that 12 per cent of the phishing attacks are carried out through emails. In case of email attacks, the victim gets a mail from a "genuine user" which contains malicious links.
Easy availability of hacking tools coupled with growing online transactions is giving rise to phishing scams. The resources needed for a phishing attack can be easily acquired from the web or through closed group of criminals. With malicious software becoming increasingly sophisticated, even criminals with no technical background are able to commit cyber frauds.
India has witnessed a series of large-scale cyber attacks in the recent past. In May, a security breach at two payment card processing companies in India led to a $45-million global heist. In the same month, cyber criminals hacked into the current account of industrial conglomerate RPG Group of companies and stole Rs 2.4 crore.
The report says the US tops the list of countries from which the maximum number of hostile phishing attacks emerge - 18.67 per cent of all attacks. India, on the other hand, contributed 4.77 per cent of all attacks.
Experts say that hackers are taking advantage of poor awareness amongst organisations and individuals about growing cyber threats.