Valentine Day- an important event on the cyber criminals’ calendar

“Love on Valentine day can not only leave you with a broken heart but broken/infected computer also”, jokingly said Mr. Neeraj Aarora, a cyber law expert. It has now become customary, to send emails, e-cards and messages via internet to express their love. But the cyber criminals are using this as a golden opportunity to use the popular and cheap medium of internet to spread viruses and other malware to the computers of unsuspecting victims. Cyber criminals have in the past timed their attacks to coincide with popular celebration occasions in order to achieve maximum success in compromising the integrity of computer systems. So realistic is the threat can be established from the fact that even, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified the Valentine’s Day as the next target for the cyber criminals to spread malware on unsuspecting users machines. How you can be victim of Valentine day cyber vandalism? There may be number of ways:

  • You may receive an email or egreeting on valentine day from unknown person and you may think that it is from someone who is proposing to you. The Spam email directs the recipient to click on a link to retrieve the electronic greeting card (e-card). Once the user clicks on the link, malware is downloaded to the Internet-connected device and causes it to become infected and part of the Storm Worm botnet. A botnet is a network of compromised machines under the control of a single user. Botnets are typically set up to facilitate criminal activity such as spam e-mail, identity theft, denial of service attacks, and spreading malware to other machines on the Internet.
  • You may receive unsolicited email that read “You have won a golden opportunity on V day to go on a Rs. 10000 Shopping spree to… (name of the e-store), are more likely to be e-traps than real proposals.
  • Alternatively, the unsolicited email may take you to the website which may contain pictures of hearts and puppies, and you may be asked to choose which one was for you. The single click made by you starts downloading of the Trojans on your computer and your computer becomes hostage to the cyber criminals who can control your PC.
  • You may receive an unsolicited email in your inbox, which may lure you for excellent dating opportunities on the occasion of V Day. If you click the link in email, it would direct you to specifically designed and prepared websites, which may be used to infect your PC with worms, viruses and Trojans. This allows the cyber criminals to gain control of your systems or access confidential information such as usernames, passwords, or bank account information and credit card numbers.
  • Many such fake websites have cropped up offering items such as screen savers, gifts, wallpapers and e-cards. Buying a gift for your valentine may be a very good idea but not through internet. Now days, more and more people being net savvy get online to get valentine gift for their girl friends, the risk of them falling prey to cyber criminals is high. The said sites may contain malware which can damage your PC or simply trick the unsuspecting users to give their personal identifying details like their usernames, bank account details which can later be used for identity theft.

Moreover, if you are recipient of an unsolicited email, don’t jump to it and careful about the email send more particularly if it has been send by some unknown sender. Use your common sense, do not open any unsolicited e-mail and do not click on any links therein. Do prefer to send gift through your own hand not via the internet. Some of the search made on Google can reveal the whole trick. If one makes search for these key words on Google, one can easily see the warning on the Google itself that these sites are not protected and may carry spam. So think, twice before clicking the search results, as it may infect your computer dearly.

Further, the valentine day has become an important occasion for e- teasing, thanks to the internet and the net savvy younger generation. The Information Technology Act, 2000 in its present form addresses these problems. If any girl receives any unwanted proposals via emails from known or unknown persons with tempting/offending messages, like, “I love you” “Kiss me dear”, “Happy Valentines Day – On this special day, just for you, come for a date with me”, the offence under Section 66A IT Act is attracted which punishes for sending offensive messages via email. Even, if one sends these types of email under some guise or pretext, the offence under the said section is attracted, as the said section clearly covers the act of deceptive anonymous emails misleading about the origin of such messages. Further, victim girl may receive spoofed SMS on their mobile phones making unwanted advances, which is also clearly covered under Section 66A IT Act, as the said section covers the electronic mail message send through computer device (read mobile phones). Further, if the aforesaid electronic mail or electronic mail message or any attachment with said email contains anything with sexual overtone may also attract Section 67 IT Act which punishes transmission of obscenity through electronic form. Further, if the victim girl is below 18 years and such email or SMS with obscene matter induces the underage victim girl for online relationship, then it may attract Section 67 B IT Act also which sternly deals with child pornography.

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