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Beware of Internet bots!

November 02, 2007 11:31 IST

The latest Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) by Symantec states that besides the metros, cities like Bhopal, Surat, Hyderabad, Pune and Noida also figure in the top 10 bot-infected cities' list.

However, this has not resulted in a decline in threat perception to enterprises based in metros.

Internet bots (derived from the word web robots) are software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet. They are used for both commercial as well as malicious purposes.

Bots are used in eBay to look for the best bargains; spambots spread content and advertising links all over the Internet; website scraper bots reprint content from all over the Internet without permission from the copyright owner; spybots (also called surveillance or data mining bots) are used to collect data and information from a person (surfing habits), website or company; hacker bots browse the Internet looking for systems with exploitable vulnerabilities (used by hackers to access and manipulate the victim's files and folders).

Botnets can also be used in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on other websites or servers. Computers or networks that are a part of botnets are called zombie computers. These can be controlled by the owner of the botnet at will.

According to the ITSR, in the first six months of this calendar year, India saw an average of 374 new bot attacks per day and has more than 38,000 distinct bot-infected computers.

The report adds that small- and medium-businesses in the country are at greater risk, as they are highly vulnerable to bots, phishing, spam, and malicious code attacks.

Mumbai at 33 per cent incidence tops the bot-infected city list, followed by New Delhi at 25 per cent, Chennai with 17 per cent and Bangalore at 13 per cent. Tier-II locations are now also a target of bot-networks with Bhopal at 4 per cent, and Hyderabad, Surat, Pune and Noida at 1 per cent each.

The lack of awareness in smaller cities has rendered them increasingly vulnerable to such threats.

"As cyber threats continue to grow in India with more than 30 million Internet users across the tier I and II cities, it has never been more important to remain vigilant and informed on the evolving threats," says Vishal Dhupar, managing director, Symantec India.

"Financial services, telecom, IT- ITeS sectors are especially vulnerable in India," said Dhupar. Indicating that IT and IT enabled service companies are more susceptible to such threats, the survey reports that the business process outsourcing and ITeS industry is losing over $500 million annually due to unsafe security environment.

The report also states that more than 70 per cent of the IT managers in the country, have reported that their employees received phishing attacks via e-mail or instant messaging on their office personal computers.

While more than 50 per cent of the companies said that their PCs had been affected infected by spyware, 20 per cent of the employees reported to have accidentally visited sites containing spyware.

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT

  • India saw an average of 374 new bots per day.

  • Phishing, spam, bots and malicious code are being used to get information for financial gains

  • India, a hub for more than 40 command-and control servers, has approximately 38,465 distinct bot-infected computers

  • Of all the monitored e-mail traffic spam was 74%.

  • Percentage of 'worms' as malicious code was at 57%, higher than the global average of 31%.

  • Percentage of virus attack was 21% higher than the global average of 4%
  • BS Reporters in New Delhi/Mumbai