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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

Firms cheated by email hacks

Mohamed Thaver, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 02, 2012
First Published: 00:14 IST(2/12/2012) | Last Updated: 00:18 IST(2/12/2012)

The Mumbai police cyber wing has asked major email service providers to spruce up their security systems after it found that cyber criminals have started hacking into the email accounts of city firms.

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After breaking into the servers of email service providers, the hackers change the content of emails in which firms conduct financial transactions to get the money transferred to their accounts, said cyber crime officials.

There were five such instances of hacking in the last few months, said a cyber-crime cell officer, requesting anonymity.

Cyber criminals from foreign countries zero in on firms trading internationally (such as import and export businesses) and intercept the emails exchanged between such companies.

“When a company sends its bank account details via email and asks another company to deposit the money into its bank accounts, hackers intercept this email and replace the company’s bank account details with their personal account numbers,” said the officer requesting anonymity.

One of the age-old methods that cyber criminals employ to gather information about a particular firm or a person is to target the computer with malicious software or spyware. The moment the user would make any financial transaction on the internet, he would unwittingly give out all his details to the cyber criminal, said the officer.

But intercepting emails is an entirely new trend, the officer said. Neither the sender nor the recipient of the email gets to know that their email has been altered. “Apart from the account number, the hackers do not change anything and even the email address remains the same. So it does not raise any suspicions, and the other company ends up making the payment in the account number given by the hackers,” the officer said.

And as soon as the payment is made, the accused withdraws the money and closes the account. Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy said, “We have been receiving such complaints recently. Investigations are on to track down the accused.”

However, this may not be so easy, as cyber criminals keep changing their modus operandi, said the officer.


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