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Removable drives: India's new malware home

May 07, 2009 10:12 IST

Removable drives like thumb drives, universal serial bus and pen drives are the new home of malware in India with infected drives spreading around 39 per cent of the total web threats in the country. These infected drives are used to steal data and leak confidential information.

In the Asia-Pacific region, this number stands at 31 per cent while the worldwide, it is in single digits, says Internet content security firm Trend Micro.

"This trend is quite is specific to the Indian market because the world over, the web is the biggest form infection but in the APAC region, specially in India, it is these removable drives that are spreading the malware really fast," said Greg Boyle, APAC small and mid-sized regional product marketing manager, Trend Micro.

Customer information like credit card information and intellectual property are the main areas of theft.

Moreover, with the economic slowdown, staff redundancies are becoming more prominent. "At this time, when layoffs and retrenchment is happening, it is easier for employees to leak information to their new employers," explained Boyle.

Most of the data theft happens in the banking, financial services and insurance space but medical research and manufacturing are the new additions because these have expensive and valuable intellectual property, templates and patents.

As a preventive measure, Boyle says, companies should make strict rules about not allowing these USBs to transfer data, without prior permission. Also, Trend Micro has developed new office products against USB threats.

The company has partnered with Transcend, the global storage and multimedia products company, to develop a removable device with preinstalled security that will not allow confidential data to be transferred.

This will also stop the process wherein one infected thumbdrive is connected with many systems thereby corrupting all of them.

India contributes 7% to global spam

India has shown the highest percentage increase in spam in the first quarter of 2009 by contributing nearly seven per cent to global spam. Perhaps spam is the latest industry to try its hand at outsourcing to India.

The latest report by Internet security firm McAfee says that in this quarter, 63 per cent of the new IP addresses operating as 'zombies' were accounted for by the top 10 countries, in which India occupies the third spot.

In this quarter, McAfee detected nearly 12 million new IP addresses, a 50 per cent increase from 2008. These addresses were operating as 'zombies' or computers under the control of spammers and others.

The report reveals that spam levels have not yet fully recovered from the McColo shutdown, which took place in Nov 2008.

Kirtika Suneja in New Delhi
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