India has gained the ignominious distinction for being the World’s biggest sender of phishing emails, according to this year’s IBM X-Force Report. Phishing mails try to trick the reader into parting with details such his phone number, bank passwords, credit card number etc by pretending to be an official mail from a bank, the government etc..
India gained the distinction despite having just a 1% broadband penetration rate, compared to 50-75% for many advanced countries.
India accounted for 15.5% of all the phishing mails tracked by IBM, beating Russia — which had just 10.4% of the ‘market’, IBM said.
In addition to sending phishing emails, India-based computers were also sending out large amounts of spam — unwanted emails touting everything from penis-enhancement pills to fake Rolex watches.
The US, India, Brazil, and Vietnam were the top four spam-sending countries, accounting for nearly one third of worldwide spam, according to the report.
On a positive note, the IBM report found that after having grown steadily every year, 2010 saw the volume (number) of spam mails stabilize. “This indicates that spammers may be seeing less value from increasing the volume of spam, and instead are focused on making sure it is bypassing filters,” it pointed out.
It also found that the number of phishing attacks dropped significantly relative to previous years, “spear phishing,” a more targeted attack technique, grew in importance in 2010. “This further indicates that cyber criminals have become more focused on quality of attacks, rather than quantity,” the report said.
Experts attribute the growth of spam in India to two factors — the widespread use of pirated Windows operating system and the lack of awareness among consumers and the government.
“The numerous, high profile targeted attacks in 2010 shed light on a crop of highly sophisticated cyber criminals, who may be well-funded and operating with knowledge of security vulnerabilities that no one else has,” said Pradeep Nair, Director, IBM Software Group, IBM ISA.
IBM, the world’s biggest IT company, manages security for many of the World’s top companies.