Cybersecurity Awareness Through Media
Vinod collaborates with broadcast and online media and for more than a decade, he has dedicated himself to create cybersecurity awareness among people.
Online Security During the Pandemic
The lockdown due to pandemic has forced the majority of the workforce to work from home. While the world is still new to this change and slowly adapting to it, hackers have found many ways to attack arguably less secure systems that were previously monitored and controlled through secure networks. One such major slip in online security was caused by Zoom, and online video-conferencing application. In his interview with the YouTube channel ‘Avatar Live’, Vinod takes the initiative to let people know the precautionary steps that they should take to secure and protect their data in a remote working environment.
Magnetic Credit Card Thefts
Collaborating with the NDTV HINDU news channel in 2010, Vinod exposed the threats associated with Magnetic Credit Card Thefts. With a magnetic reader writer and a laptop, a hacker could simply create multiple copies of a credit card and use it to exploit the card owner’s funds.
E-Pickpocketing Pin Cards
E-Pickpocketing Pin Cards has been a concern with incidents like large scale attacks on ATMs compromising thousands of pin card holders. While it is normal and customary for anyone to insert their card into an ATM to retrieve money, unaware to themselves, they might become the victim of swindling.
A skimmer is placed on a card reader or a POS, or an ATM and it obtains the card’s information when the card is inserted. A small camera is then placed close to the ATM machine to steal the card’s pin. To curb such activities, Vinod has joined forces with leading banks in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, UAE, Bangladesh, and Africa to create awareness about e-Pickpocketing and help these banks solidify their ATM security.
Vinod has helped expose DeepFakes and the risk that they impose. Deepfakes are essentially algorithms that take in information, process them according to the inputs that we provide, and delivers an output. It is mostly used for faking videos where it can alter the contents of the original video without tampering the essence of it. Deepfake videos almost always have an uncanny resemblance to the originals, so it becomes easy for people to be swayed away by such videos. For example, a video of PM Narendra Modi’s speech can be altered to deliver misleading information by using Deepfakes. Thus, Deepfakes have the potential to be a national threat, if used for malicious purposes.
Call spoofing is a spoofing technique where the hacker is able to display a trusted caller ID and disguise their original caller ID, thereby manipulating people and getting away with their personal information. Vinod has aided in making calls more secure by conducting end-to-end network and information security audits for telecom regulators in South Asia. Apart from that, Vinod and his team have performed a security audit on telecom networks like Airtel Africa, Greencom, West Africa, Verizon, Dialog Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Telecom, and SingTel (Singapore Telecommunications Limited).
Vinod, in 2009, collaborated with NDTV HINDU to shed light on the wireless insecurities in and around Chennai with the use of a GPS system, W2PA antenna and a laptop. By wardriving around Chennai (an act in which hackers drive around the neighbourhood to look for exploitable WiFi networks), Vinod demonstrated how simple and easy it was to hack poorly unprotected and open WiFi networks.
He was able to get into the Park Sheraton Hotel’s open WiFi network. Within a span of 20 Kms, Vinod exposed over 800 insecure WiFi networks. These networks are a honeypot for hackers and malicious users who can cloak their identity, use these open networks to conduct hacks on other websites and systems, misrepresent the source of a hack, and redirect investigations.
VPN Related Security Issues & Social Media Photo Update Issues
VPN stands for Visual Private Network, a network that offers privacy on the internet. However, VPN’s abilities are construed such that people have come to believe that by using a VPN, one can remain anonymous on the internet. But this cannot be any further away from the truth. VPNs are subnetworks that are hosted by companies that provide these services. These companies will have logs and records of activity, of users who opt for their service. What a VPN can do is anonymize your activity from your neighbour or your ISP, but your activities are not ‘off-the-record’. Vinod helps create a better understanding of VPNs in the episode of ‘Cyber Thirai’.
Malwares Via Porn Site
In one of the episodes of the ‘Cyber Thirai’ program on Puthiya Thalaimurai, Vinod explains the risks of malicious mobile applications and malware that hack your mobile devices via porn websites. When you visit a porn website, you are being enticed to click certain advertisements. Such advertisements can easily be created using WebRTC, a feature of HTML5 that collects the public IP, private IP, and the location (that is, your personal information) of a device.
These ads when clicked, lead you to another website where an application of size in the order of kilobytes is downloaded onto your mobile. This application gives the hacker entire control over your mobile device, which can use to obtain credit card information, social media passwords, and profile information. Vinod further explains how these hackers activate the front camera of your devices using a technique called ‘LiveJacking’.
Website defacement is a technique where one website’s appearance is completely replaced with another, while the domain remains the same. The hackers gain access to the website’s server, deface the website, and gather personal information. Vinod has made people aware of these techniques that hackers employ to take preventive measures whenever they come across compromised websites.
Virus & Worms
Vinod regularly appears in Puthiya Thalaimurai’s ‘Cyber Thirai’, a show that revolves around hackers, hacking, and cybersecurity. In one episode of the show, Vinod explains how viruses and worms enter our systems and mobile applications and the simple steps one can take to avoid them.
Trojans & Backdoors
In another episode of Puthiya Thalaimurai’s ‘Cyber Thirai’, Vinod talks about the ways in which Trojans and other backdoors creep into our systems and explains how to prevent them or once infected, get rid of them.
Mobile botnet - symantec trade secret award
In his online interviews and talk shows on YouTube, Vinod explains how botnets play a major role is compromising the security of mobile phones. Botmasters or hackers use trivial tricks such as spam or scam SMS to lure unsuspecting users into clicking malicious links, which then downloads malware that is used to take control of the mobile device. The compromised mobile devices are further used to expand the botnet.
Vinod is also the recipient of Symantec Corporation’s ‘Trade Secret Award’ for his contribution to securing systems against mobile botnets.