Security software maker McAfee has warned users of the most common ways of attacks used by cyber criminals during the festive season, especially highlighting social networks and malicious mobile apps. It advises users to think before they click on links that show up on their mobile devices, prodding them to buy Christmas and New Year gifts.

As per a 2012 Holiday Shopping Study conducted among more than 1,100 Indian adults, miscreants used Facebook and Twitter as easily as email and websites to trick users during holidays. Going further, it added, “Be careful when clicking or liking posts, while taking advantage of contests, ads and special deals that one gets from 'friends' that advertise the hottest Holiday gifts (such as the new iPad Mini), exclusive discounts at local stores and holiday-related jobs postings.” The report acknowledged that scammers mostly carry out their attacks through social networks, malicious mobile apps, gift scams, fake charities and bogus gift cards. 

Look before you leap..

Be careful this holiday season (Image credit: Getty Images)

Interestingly, it pointed out that 71 percent, i.e. 3 out of 4 of those surveyed, admitted that they planned to use mobile devices. Despite being aware of the risks involved, the aforementioned were willing to give away their personal details for something they value in return. McAfee Labs Director Paula Greve was quoted as saying, “Using multiple devices provides the bad guys with more ways to access your valuable 'Digital Assets' such as personal information and files, especially if the devices are under-protected.” Those Indians planning to use their smartphones and/or tablets to purchase gifts this holiday season, roughly 72 percent, admitted to be planning to use apps for shopping and/or banking during the festive season. 

McAfee in its study added, “As such, mobile devices have proven irresistible to cybercriminals, and now they are targeting mobile users through malicious applications…Indians are more likely to be a victim of a cyber scam. More than 23% of polled Indians have been victims and almost 25% of the polled Indians know someone who has been a victim.”

It went on to share that despite those surveyed in India having admitted to being concerned about their personal credentials being stolen while using a mobile app on a smartphone/tablet, 95 percent said they are open to providing some level of personal information to receive something of value in return. 

Shockingly, the nation scored highest on the ranking of sharing credit card details in order to receive such offers.

In a recent revelation, the government said that more than 1,600 people were arrested last year for cyber crimes registered under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and under sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communications noted, “As per the crime data maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 154, 178, 288, 799 and 1,184 persons were arrested for cyber crimes registered under IT Act, 2000 during 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.”

The IT Act, 2000, allows detection/tracking on cyber crimes and punishment to culprits, thereby providing a legal framework to address issues pertaining to such crimes in the cyber space. Deora added that a total of 429, 195, 263, 394 and 446 persons were arrested for cyber crimes registered under sections of IPC relating to cyber crime cases during 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively. “As per the crime data maintained by NCRB, a total of 217, 288, 420, 966 and 1,791 cyber crime cases were registered under IT Act, 2000 during the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively, thereby showing a rising trend,” he added further. 

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