The rise of Indian Cyber criminals; a generalized explanation

The rise of indian cyber criminals

India is a country rich with resources like programmers, Engineers and information security specialist but not every knowledge is utilized for a good cause.

The rise in population gradually led to increase in unemployment. In today’s society even if you are a degree holder, no job guarantee is promised. This situation has created a swarm of underground threat actors to who are eagerly waiting to show off their skills and make money.

What are the main targets of these hacking groups?

Geopolitical factors like resources, strategic location, level of development, scale of economy etc. has led to the increase in cyber threat.

As per the statistics the major target of the India-cyber espionage by far is Pakistan- the endless temper for the disputed land, Kashmir.

After Pakistan, China is the second is the second most targeted country.

The other countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are way back in the queue.

For instance, an Indian cyber group named ‘Dark Basin’ has been targeting government officials, senior politicians, advocacy groups, journalists, CEO and human rights activists around six continents in the last 7 years.

Hacking skills

From the records, India has a less mature cyber warfare weapons when compared to China, Russia, North Korea, Israel, UK and US but this may change as the capability of the hackers are growing.

According to the security researchers, India may stand behind in their sophisticated hacking skills but they have an effective ability to call on a circle of zero-day exploit to utilise the vulnerability. They also deploy techniques that contain weaponized macros.

Sometimes a normal social engineering attack can give bigger results than any other hi-tech hacking operations.

Chief security advisor SentinelOne, Morgan Wrights claims that since a portion of people in India lost their jobs in the pandemic, there are possibilities for a portion of people to engage in cybercrime.

There are different cyber groups in India. Each group varies in their activities some may show high level of sophistication. With custom build tools while others showcase less sophisticated capabilities. The variations depend upon the needs of the attack.

Which are the Prominent Indian APT groups?

  • The SideWinder, one of the highly active cyber threat groups that have been infecting the government and the officials since 2012. As per the inquest by the AT & T Alien labs, the SideWinder have mainly targeted on South Asia and East Asia. These groups mainly supported and promoted Indian political interest.
  • An Indian state sponsored group, ‘Dropping Elephant’ which has been targeting the Chinese government through water hole attacks and spear phishing.
  • Viceroy Tiger, the group that specialises to use Microsoft Office documents for spear-phishing campaigns. According to the security researchers, their mobile malware were rated as medium sophisticated.

According to the co-founder and CISO of cyber security firm, Mike Hamilton India is improving its technology to educate more than 400,000 low-income students so significantly India will increase its cyber strength.

Hamilton has expectations that India will differentiate itself from nationalist motivations.

Cyber threats groups including Viceroy Tiger, Dropping Elephant and Dark Basin have started to expand its talent pool and raised the efficiency of the sophisticated of attacks.

Indian military has invented much in cyber operators to overcome its adversaries.

In the coming years India is planning to strengthen the cyber forces by implementing the Defence Cyber Agency (DCA), an agency for cyber warfare.

The DCA is estimated to have more than 1000 experts who will split into a number of formations in the Army, Air Force and Navy.


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