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Cyber security alert: Beware of suspect digital signs

New Delhi: Cyber security sleuths have alerted Internet users in the country against phishing attacks from suspect digital signatures which got "unauthorisedly" issued through the state-owned National Informatics Centre (NIC).

The digital signatures also known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the electronic equivalent of a bonafide signature of an individual, organisation or an entity which is used to conduct secure business and transactions over the Internet. The NIC's Certifying Authority (NIC-CA) is the premier government authority for issuing digital signatures or SSLs to genuine users in the country.

Cyber hacking
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The latest "high" category alert has been issued by the Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In) which is the nodal national agency to combat hacking, phishing and to fortify security-related defences of the Indian Internet domain.

The agency has issued the alert at a time when the annual Income Tax Returns filing season is on and lakhs of taxpayers would be using Internet to file their tax statements. "Certain SSL certificates have been unauthorisedly got issued through National Informatics Centre-CA (NIC-CA). These certificates could be exploited by remote attackers to spoof content, perform phishing attacks or perform man-in-the-middle attacks," the CERT-In said in its advisory to users.

A remote attacker, the agency said, could use these certificates (digital signatures) to spoof content, perform phishing attacks or man-in-the-middle attacks against web properties. While phishing is an illegal attempt on the Internet to acquire sensitive personal information such as user name, password and credit card details by masquerading as a bonafide entity, a man-in-the-middle attack denotes an illegal eavesdropping and subsequent stealing of an user's communication by the hacker or attacking virus.

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