State-Backed Cyber Threats To India Skyrocket, IT Sector Hit Hardest: Report

Cyber threats against India have skyrocketed, with a staggering 278% increase in state-sponsored attacks from 2021 to September 2023, according to the 2023 India Threat Landscape Report by Cyfirma. The IT and BPO sectors bore the brunt, with startups and SMEs also facing an alarming 508% surge in targeted attacks.

What Happened? Kumar Ritesh, Cyfirma’s CEO, highlighted that India, more than any other country, is contending with foreign state-influenced cyber onslaughts, constituting 72% of attacks compared to a global average of 68%. India now stands as the most cyber-targeted nation, enduring 13.7% of global cyberattacks, outpacing even the United States.

The report sheds light on the sectors most affected: services, including IT and BPO, topped the list, followed by manufacturing, healthcare, education, and retail. Government agencies, along with the banking, automotive, and airline industries, also faced their share of cyber threats.

Are most cyber criminals attacking India from Pakistan? Cyfirma observed 39 active cyber campaigns against India in 2023, with most traced back to Chinese, Russian, or North Korean actors — a notable shift from previous years when Pakistan was the primary source of such attacks.

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Ritesh warns that this surge in cybercrime could stifle innovation and the business climate in India. He calls for robust cybersecurity policy enforcement and heightened awareness, particularly among SMEs and startups, to combat these sophisticated cyber threats.

Key target: The report also points to a worrying trend of cybercriminals targeting corporate India’s intellectual property, with key industries like automotive, airlines, and BFSI in their crosshairs. Despite advancements in infrastructure, India’s rapid digital transformation journey has left gaps in cyber defences, leaving it vulnerable to attacks.

Notorious groups like Fancy Bear, Turla Group, Lazarus Group, and Stone Panda have been identified as key perpetrators targeting India. The study also noted a significant rise in malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks, underscoring the need for increased vigilance and cybersecurity measures.

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