Ecomm giant ropes in cybersecurity pros on spike in app downloads

MUMBAI: A large e-commerce company recently roped in cybersecurity experts after an unexpected spike in its app downloads during the lockdown period didn’t convert into any customer engagement.

It found that these were not real customers but bots and could have resulted in revenue loss on account of advertising fraud — forcing a company to pay websites carrying its advertisements based on the number of clicks they attract.

Cybersecurity experts have noted a sharp increase in concerns over advertising frauds, digital security and company-related sensitive data, among others, during the ongoing 21-day lockdown period in India.

The use of personal devices to access official documents and increased app downloads for Covid-19 related news or entertainment purposes have added to vulnerabilities that would otherwise have been detected in secured office premises. “The rough increase in advertising fraud is to the level of about 20% during this Covid-19 period.

We are seeing a large increase in malware, especially related to advertising fraud,” said Dhiraj Gupta, chief technology officer at MFilterIt, a fraud detection and prevention company that was hired by the e-commerce company. “We are seeing bots which are running in the background of mobile phones or laptops and continuously watching and clicking on ads.”

At the beginning of the lockdown, a nonbanking finance company called in Dhruv Khanna, cofounder of Data Resolve, to help address its concerns over possible data leakage with employees working from home getting access to sensitive financial data of its customers. The company wanted special software to be installed in all devices at its employees’ homes to prevent fraud. New Delhi-based Data Resolve, which looks into data leaks, says it has gained 12 clients in two weeks of the lockdown. Wellconfigured traffic and email monitoring, filtering and blacklisting solutions to weed out such attacks are the need of the hour.

“It’s being observed that cybercriminals are using the Covid-19 as a smokescreen, seeking to exploit our thirst for information, and are able to find flaws and vulnerabilities,” said Avinash Prasad vice president for managed security services at Tata Communications.