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Caution,cyber criminals on the prowl

How safe are you in the cyber world where anonymous eyes may be tracking every move you make?

Written by Arun Jayan | Pune |
January 29, 2009 1:59:19 am

How safe are you in the cyber world where anonymous eyes may be tracking every move you make? Over the last five days,Monster Worldwide Inc has been alerting its users to change their passwords after data including e-mail addresses,names and phone numbers were stolen en masse from its database. Back home in Pune,experts and cyber committee of the city police too say pretty much the same — that security standards of many Indian sites are poor.

Pointing out that data theft like this is very much a reality,a latest study by Websense.Inc shows that 70 per cent of the100 most popular websites either hosted malicious content or contained a masked redirect to lure victims to malicious sites.

The study revealed that 39 per cent of malicious web attacks included data theft,reiterating that the attackers are after essential information like credit card numbers,driver licence numbers,usernames and passwords.

“Due to lack of awareness and fear of brand reputation loss,such threats do not get reported. But as compliance becomes strict,one can see more disclosures and can expect organisations to take measure to tackle data loss,” said Manish Bansal,marketing manager,Websense Software Services India Private Limited.

According to Bansal,at the individual level,it is important for people to be aware of such trends and avoid going to sites that are of no interest to them. At the organisation level,they need to take steps to secure their web infrastructure and prevent damage.

Data stealing is not unknown in Pune. According to the city police cyber crime wing,60-65 per cent of the total cyber crimes registered with them deal with data theft.

“Most of the time important data are stolen by internal hands. The remaining 40 per cent includes criminals using fake identities,uploading porn pictures or publishing obscene remarks,” said Sudam Choure,Pune Police Cyber Committee co-ordinator.

“A lot of semi-government and government sites do not have the expertise to secure their content and data. Personal details in wrong hands can prove dangerous. Awareness about internet security has to be improved,” he said.

Rohit Srivastava,an ethical hacker,said the security standards of most of the Indian sites are poor.

“The information stored in the database is vulnerable to attacks. Many sites store password as plain text instead of hashing it. Password hashing is a way of encrypting a password before it is stored so that if your database gets into the wrong hands,the damage is limited. Web developers and the companies that host websites should actually follow this,” he said.

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