Cyber Attacks In India: A Comprehensive and In-Depth Analysis

By Prometteur solutions 19 Min Read

Welcome to our blog post on major cyber attacks in India.

Over the last decade, cyber attacks on India have increased exponentially, infiltrating critical government infrastructure, financial institutions and businesses.

In 2022 alone, reported cyber attacks rose over 200% compared to the previous year, placing India among the top three countries most affected. Malicious cyber activity poses a severe threat to national security, economic stability and public safety.

This article provides an in-depth analysis of major cyber attacks experienced in India. It examines common attack types including phishing, malware and ransomware incidents. Additionally, we quantify the financial impact of breaches on the economy and stock market. Most importantly, current government policies and organizational best practices are outlined to enhance India’s cyber resilience.

Understanding the Cybersecurity Challenges

With digital penetration in the country growing over 60% in the last 5 years, both public and private sector establishments have become prime targets. The cyber attacks in India range from individual hackers to sophisticated organized crime rings and state-sponsored groups.

Their motivations include financial crime, espionage, and disruption of critical infrastructure or services.

By comprehending prevalent threats and adequate countermeasures, individuals, businesses and government entities can secure data, operations and reputations in cyberspace.

India’s vision for a $5 trillion digital economy by 2025 depends fundamentally on creating a safe and trusted online ecosystem. The time has come for cyber security preparedness to take center stage as a national priority.

Types of Common Cyber Attacks in India

As digital adoption accelerates across industries, malicious actors are unleashing a dangerous array of cyber attacks against Indian entities. These elements of cyber attacks in India want to profit from data theft, extortion, service disruption and fraud.

Understanding current attack vectors and case studies is an imperative first step for enhancing resilience.

Spear-Phishing Campaigns

Phishing ploys involve duping users via emails, texts or calls to give up login credentials or unknowingly enable malware installation.

Over 90% of intrusions leverage deceptive phishing as an initial entry vector that relies on urgent psychological triggers. These triggers may include curiosity, fear or a sense of obligation.

Globally, the healthcare industry saw a 250% phishing spike after the pandemic remote work requirements.

Cybercriminals extensively researched targets and crafted credible spear-phishing narratives impersonating trusted contacts regarding time-sensitive hospital equipment procurement, oxygen shortages, vaccine supply chain issues and telemedicine adoption.

Many Indian hospitals fell for this scam and they lost huge amount of dollars between 2020 and 2021.

Other highly targeted sectors include finance, logistics and manufacturing, especially MSMEs with security gaps. 

Even in 2022, SMEfutures reported that; “In 2022, India noted the highest number of suspicious emails each day, with 53 per cent of Indian enterprises becoming victims of spear phishing”

Ransomware Attacks 

Ransomware encrypts and immobilizes key files or systems until ransom demands are fulfilled. This cyber attack cripples vital functions. India witnessed a 300% ransomware surge amidst the pandemic.

Global syndicates like Conti and REvil singled out unprotected Indian SMBs using remote access tools. The average ransom size also increased to a whooping 5x.

Apart from official data, personal mobile devices have become prime targets as well. In 2022, Android lock screen ransomware attacks grew multifold to exploit vulnerabilities in pornography, gaming and torrent sites frequented by many Indians.

DDoS Campaigns

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) episodes cripple site and service availability by suddenly flooding them with excess fake traffic to overwhelm servers.

Indian entities adopted digitization rather rapidly during the pandemic but without commensurate focus on availability protections.

Consequently, the MHA reported a 38% annual rise in cyber attacks against government websites between 2020-2021, mostly involving DDoS.

Crippling episodes against Indian banks, media houses and government vaccine portals made headlines.

In 2022, VOA reported that; a series of DDoS attempts were mitigated wherein Chinese state-sponsored groups reportedly overwhelmed Power Ministry websites with 265GB traffic per hour, following India’s grid cybersecurity directives. 

Malware Incursions 

Malware includes spyware, viruses, trojans, bots and other destructive codes that infects devices or networks. Their purpose is to appropriate data assets, breach confidentiality or inflict damage.

In 2022, complex malware enabled threat actors lengthy access to monitor and control target environments.

Impact of Cyber Attacks on India’s Economy

Cyber attacks on Indian businesses and infrastructure have far-reaching financial consequences across multiple fronts ranging from enterprise profitability to investor confidence and global market perceptions. Understanding the tangible and intangible economic impact is vital.

Enterprise Profitability and Competitiveness

Cyber-attacks directly result in major remediation costs, business operation disruptions, data and IP loss and regulatory penalties for Indian corporations. Prolific attacks compound these losses across enterprises. According to the IBM Security Data Breach Report of 2022, “India’s average data breach cost is at a record high of $2.2 million for the year of 2022.

Critical infrastructure like power, transport and banking suffer indirect cascading economic after-effects from specific attacks. This happens while critical citizen services get disrupted.

For instance, back-to-back power grid malware attacks resulted in fluctuations that negatively influenced three critical areas; manufacturing, commerce and investor sentiment countrywide.

Stock Market Instability

High-profile data breaches, technology disruptions and critical infrastructure cyber attacks also negatively impact stock market stability in India. It is creating volatile fluctuations and wavering investor confidence in affected corporations and industries.

Credit agency, Moody, has repeatedly cited prolific threats as a constraint in India. The credit agency says cyber attacks prevent India’s sovereign rating from upgrading to the top bracket. From their lens, it is causing languishing equity activity and FII withdrawal.

Deteriorating Ease of Doing Business

India’s economic growth trajectory and ease of doing business credentials take a hit as cyber threats deter trade and investment inflows. This is happening in high-potential digital economy segments.

The lack of robust legal protections around data privacy and security is already seen as a market access barrier by many MNCs eyeing Indian expansion.

Impact of Cyber Attacks on India’s Critical Infrastructure

Cyber attacks on foundational infrastructure like power grids, transportation, healthcare networks and emergency response systems gravely undermine both national security as well as citizen health, safety and continuity of essential services.

Let us take a sneak peek at how cyber-attacks are impacting India’s critical infrastructures.

Power Grid Intrusions 

Foreign attackers have repeatedly struck Indian power infrastructure over the years. These criminals are using malicious ways to gain access and control systems. When they do, they trigger blackouts which impact millions while bypassing traditional network defenses.

India malware attacks on load dispatch centers deliberately caused fluctuations destabilizing the grids and inflicting appliance damage nationwide.

With industries and households utterly electricity dependent, attackers can wield this vulnerability as an economic or coercion weapon.

Public Healthcare Disruptions 

Ransomware attacks on public hospitals, medical devices and insurance systems endanger patient health. These attacks cause dangerous delays in critical treatments and critical surgeries while creating information gaps that forestall robust pandemic response.

India’s healthcare sector has, so far, witnessed numerous cyber attack attempts between 2020-2023. Telemedicine channels and IoMT devices are also regularly compromised, forming a huge landscape of major cyber attacks in India.

Transport and Emergency Services Crippled

Likewise, cyber attacks on railway signalling infrastructure, airport systems and emergency response networks directly put civilian lives at risk. This is in addition to causing logistics logjams and economic bottlenecks.

India’s National Informatics Center admitted that over 70% of cyber attacks in 2020 targeted just ten highly sensitive sectors including health, police and energy – essentially services vital for citizen security and well-being.

Measures Taken by the Indian Government to Combat Cyber Attacks

The Indian government responded to the spate of attacks in a very positive way. It did so by fast-tracking various legal, technology and collaboration initiatives. The aim of this was to upgrade defensive capacities, monitoring and rapid response against sophisticated threat actors.

National Cyber Security Policy 2013

The maiden National Cyber Security Policy released in 2013 aimed to create a resilient cyber ecosystem. This is very possible via public-private partnerships, R&D, workforce development and effective global coordination.

The Key provisions include setting up sectoral CERTs, formulating crisis response procedures, securing critical infrastructure/services and enabling security technologies like AI-based threat intelligence, blockchain-based DNS protection and widespread adoption of encryption.

Cyber Swachhta Kendra

Launched in 2017, this national cyber hygiene centre aims to perform botnet cleaning and malware analysis for compromised endpoints. This is across critical sectors while fostering information sharing on threats.

The centre provides tools to overcome bot infections through industry partnerships while creating awareness around cyber hygiene.

National Cyber Coordination Centre

The NCCC commenced operations in 2022 as the apex agency monitoring cyberspace for traffic anomalies, attack trends and large-scale security incidents. The centralized facility issues early warnings and real-time threat intelligence to dependent agencies including sectors like finance, defence and telecom.

Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative 

This public awareness program initiated in 2022 focuses on individual capacity building to practice safe online behaviour, use tools judiciously and identify fraud triggers.

Understanding hygiene practices like password policies, 2-factor authentication and patch updates are highlighted to improve first-line societal resilience.

Cyber Security Best Practices for Individuals and Businesses in India

Constructing a Resilient Digital Defense for India

While government agencies spearhead surveillance, investigation and emergency response on the national security front, widespread adoption of prudent cyber safety practices by citizens and private sector enterprises constitutes the most pragmatic first line of defence against malicious threats.

Basic cyber hygiene habits, user education and proactive controls can safeguard our digital ecosystem proactively.

Prioritizing End-User Cyber Hygiene

Individuals must take cyber hygiene to be imperative by installing reputed antivirus and avoiding suspicious downloads. They may also patch known software vulnerabilities via auto-updates consistently.

Also, encryption for public WiFi along with password managers and 2FA tokens for logins enhance account safety. Backing up critical documents regularly on disconnected drives guarantees availability during infection attempts.

Paying attention to all these details will help in deterring threat actors tremendously.

Combating Phishing Risks via Employee Vigilance 

Institutions must implement periodic cyber security literacy workshops as 70% of attacks leverage social engineering. This is true for fraudulent links, CEO fraud and invoices to trigger psychology-based employee actions.

Case study training on security helps to update staff skills to identify subtle red flags in communication before falling into extortion traps. It also plays a huge role in facilitating reporting incidences faster via IT-designated channels for minimal business impact.  

Deploying Continual Safeguards for Networks 

Along with insuring specialized risks,  experts advocate embracing the “Secure Enclave” model covering the following; granular access controls, micro-segmentation, elastic cryptography plus smart AI/ML-based anomaly detection and threat intelligence.

Automating policy orchestration, data inventory tracking and system interconnectivity monitoring constitute big wins. While absolute protection remains impossible, resilient security postures rely on planning for inevitable breaches via continuity planning and concentrated cyber budgets.

Use of strong passwords

Create and routinely update strong and complex passwords that are at least 12 characters in length and contain a combination. The combination includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.

This will effectively secure your critical online accounts against unauthorized access, guesses, and hacks.

Utilize a reputed password manager application to conveniently generate and securely store unique and difficult-to-crack passwords. Do this for all of your most important personal and professional digital accounts as it enables safe password use.

It also comes without the high cognitive load of having to manually remember a unique password for every account. Using such strong passwords helps a lot in avoiding major cyber attacks in India.

 Regular software updates

Make software updates on all of your laptops, desktops, smartphones, and computer programs are a regular priority. This will ensure to prompt installation of the latest security patches released.

The updates help to fix weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and bugs in the coding that hackers can exploit to infiltrate systems and networks.

Enable automatic software updates across operating systems, internet browsers, productivity applications, and any other software programs as well. This is to ensure cybersecurity fixes are seamlessly downloaded and installed as soon as they become available.

Keeping operating systems, internet browsers, media players, document editors, system utilities, and mobile apps consistently up-to-date through timely patches is crucial in avoiding cyber attacks in India. They are proactively identifying and sealing security loopholes before they can be leveraged on dangerous levels. 

Use of antivirus software

Carefully research, install, continuously run, and update full-featured antivirus and anti-malware software solutions. Make sure to do this on all organizational and personal endpoints.

This should also include protection capabilities like real-time monitoring, scheduled scans, email attachment scanning, and browser protection. The essence of this is to thoroughly detect and promptly block a wide variety of sophisticated cybersecurity threats like; viruses, worms, ransomware attacks, macro viruses, trojan horses, spyware, adware, keyloggers, bots, rootkits, and phishing attempts across devices and networks.

For layered protection against intrusions, and cyber attacks in India, you can always combine antivirus and anti-malware software with properly configured firewalls. This can be both on individual devices as well as at the network periphery, to filter incoming and outgoing traffic as per evolving attack vectors. 

Employee training on cyber security

Initiate mandatory cyber security awareness training drives and workshops for employees. The training should focus on areas such as; how to identify, avoid, and respond safely to critical cyber attacks like; phishing emails, suspicious links, unverified download prompts, and other social engineering tactics used by hackers to gain entry or extract sensitive corporate and personal data.

Additionally, conduct regular simulated phishing attack tests by sending dummy malicious emails to staff. This helps to continuously expand cybersecurity readiness, preparedness, and incident reporting/handling amongst the workforce. It also helps to keep security best practices at the top of their minds.


India has witnessed major cyber attacks. These attacks have over the years, recorded exponential rise inflicting severe damage across critical infrastructure, government agencies, businesses and citizens. Estimated losses from data breaches, ransom demands and business disruption now run into billions of dollars annually.

Beyond the financial impact, such attacks undermine national security, public health and safety by crippling vital services like power, transport and healthcare. As digital adoption accelerates across industries, India urgently needs to prioritize cybersecurity preparedness as a strategic imperative.

The Indian government has taken positive steps. These are around; monitoring, emergency response and public awareness. However, the widespread adoption of prudent cyber hygiene practices by end users and private sector enterprises is vital for constructing a resilient first line of defence across the digital ecosystem.

Individual vigilance along with proactive safeguards and continuity planning by organizations constitute pragmatic cyber protection strategies against constantly evolving threats targeting India’s stability and economic aspirations.

Share This Article
Leave a comment