Hackers net language skills

Published: Jan 02, 2009, 12:08 IST | Shashank Shekhar

Global hacking syndicates are hiring multilingual virus writers; Indians in demand as well

Global hacking syndicates are hiring multilingual virus writers; Indians in demand as well

If you are a computer virus writer fluent in foreign languages, the global economic meltdown should not worry you. For you, this is the time to rake in the moolah.

Cyber experts have noticed an increase in the number of advertisements appearing on underground Internet channels and websites saying: "Wanted computer virus writers. Must be fluent in Mandarin, Russian or Portuguese." These advertisements try to lure hackers who can write compelling and grammatically correct Web pages and spam e-mails, which are crucial in fooling Internet users to download viruses or reveal personal information like credit card numbers.

A recent cyber security report has found that just 67 per cent of spam is written in English, a sign that broadband penetration in emerging markets has made attacks in non-English languages increasingly lucrative.

Asian languages

According to computer security vendor McAfee Inc, malicious code designers want to hire programmers with foreign language skills to help them launch country-specific attacks. Vivek Vohra, a cyber security expert, said, "By localising their attacks, hackers can better target Websites popular in various countries. They can also limit their attacks to nations where cyber law enforcement is lax."

Hackers fluent in Asian languages like Mandarin (spoken in China) and Japanese are more in demand as these countries have a large number of Internet users and their economies have more potential than many in the West. They have a surplus of skilled coders who lack regular work as well. Laws against cyber crime are also more relaxed in these nations as compared to the Western world.

Indians in demand

However, Indian hackers too may be involved in this global racket. "Indian software writers can also be involved in this syndicate as many have lost their jobs because of the economic slowdown. Also, there is a large number of Indian Internet users who visit online gaming sites from China which are written in Mandarin. Indian users are also interested in other foreign language content," said Vohra.

According to cyber experts there are many multilingual hackers in India who are hired for specific projects.

India is also a lucrative market. "Seeing the growing number of Internet users in India and the rise in cyber attacks, the time is not far when computer virus attacks will be written in Indian languages as well."

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