KOCHI: Possessing a smartphone is now akin to allowing cybercriminals access to all your personal data, it would seem. All it takes is a bad app. Rather than duping people into providing the one-time password (OTP) – that they receive on their phones – to hack bank accounts and siphon off money, cybercriminals are now making unsuspecting customers install malicious apps that allow them direct access to the victims’ messages, say officials with Cyberdome, Kochi. According to them, the number of OTP-related frauds has come down in the city.
“In the latest trend, fraudsters try to directly access the messages sent by service providers to the users by making the latter install vulnerable apps,” said a Cyberdome official.
Once such apps are installed, fraudsters can remotely access one’s phone screen. “So all the data, contacts and apps, including banking apps, become accessible. Fraudsters can read the messages directly and swindle money from the bank account,” the official said.
Those aged between 15 and 40 are more vulnerable to the app-based fraud and those aged above easily fall prey to frauds like OTP thefts, said the official.
Set up at Jyothirmaya building at Infopark, Cyberdome is currently monitoring extremist activities, child pornography, human trafficking, drug deals, economic offences and spreading of fake news over the internet. “On most days, we monitor the amount of fake news shared over the internet. Malayalis are extremely fond of fake news and tend to share it more,” said the official.
Cyberdome, which started functioning in the city late last year, will be officially inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday.
City Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare said Cyberdome was able to spot 50-60 serious potential threats in a month since its inception. “It will be developed into an umbrella organisation for providing greater cybersecurity to people,” he said.
Cyberdome employs 16 technically-skilled and trained personnel who work round-the-clock, led by four officers. State-of-art tools are used to detect crimes and track down criminals. The personnel are given continuous training and receive ample support by ethical hackers, techies and domain experts. Cyberdome is also focusing on providing cybersecurity awareness for which around 125 cybersecurity clubs have been formed in schools across the district.
Be wary of Telegram
According to Cyberdome officials, instant messaging app Telegram is one such application that leaves users’ phones vulnerable to hacking. “It is a hotbed of malware that exposes users’ phones to cyber attacks,” said an officer.