India's malware vulnerabilities persist, even as Google comes up with a tool to track of malware trends.
Online government networks from India having sites infected with malicious software figure in lists generated by the newly-introduced Malware Dashboard that Google has incorporated into its Transparency Report.
What the dashboard provides is an overview of data collated from Google scans of websites. The number of sites scanned is based on Google's sampling algorithms and the dashboard reveals the number of infected sites on a particular network under a single entity like an Internet Service Provider (ISP). It also includes sites that specifically exist to distribute malicious software or malware. It presents a global map which can be used to drill down to unearth country-wise data and filter it down to specific periods up to a year.
A view of the map on the Google dashboard, displaying information based on a year's statistics.
Such malware include viruses, worms and trojans, which infect computers and work in different ways, depending on the objectives of their creators.
Google has for some years been providing a Safe Browsing service that lists sites posing malware or phishing risks. Its Transparency Report is largely known for making periodic disclosures about requests from governments and courts to remove or hand over data.
The list of infected networks in India that the malware dashboard generates based on a year's data includes that of the National Informatics Centre and National Knowledge Network. The former hosts a large number of government sites and the latter is primarily an education network. The networks of some Internet Service Providers and data centres too figure in the list.
India has been known to be relatively more vulnerable to malware, with the security company Kaspersky, in its latest threat analysis report, placing India in the 15th position among countries "when it comes to the dangers associated with surfing the web" based on the number of Internet-borne malware incidents detected among the users of its products in the country. "Overall, 35.6 per cent of users were attacked by web-borne threats during this period," the report said.
The report for April-June, 2013 also noted that an even more serious risk was the spread of malware, mainly worms and file viruses, via removable media like USB drives, CDs and DVDs, and other “offline” modes. Overall, 49.6 per cent of users in India were affected by such malware, which placed it in the 10th position in global terms.
However, computers in other countries are primarily responsible for spreading malware. Malware infection caused by networks located in India was of only such magnitude that placed India in the 39th position worldwide.