New Delhi: Your curiosity to know more about the upcoming general election can make you a victim of phishing attack. This election season, cybercriminals are on the prowl, making election-related queries a bait to siphon off your personal information.

According to cyber experts, hackers are on the lookout for for any new opportunity to steal voters' personal data. With elections round the corner, there is a tsunami of searches on the internet related to political fights, candidates and voter-related information, and this is being used by cybercriminals to steal victims' personal data.

Cybercriminals have already launched phishing attacks and made fake websites related to the 2019 general election and their intention is to extract maximum data from the voters. Cyber experts explain that this would not initially lead to any financial loss but make an individual more prone to financial attacks or identity theft.

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“Data is a new goldmine and the election season is the best opportunity for hackers to strike. Such events open lots of opportunities for hackers. Many hackers are active during elections who will not only target thousands of people but would also try to convert it into money-making opportunities. This will surely lead to a significant increase in cyber crimes,” said cybercrime expert Amit Dubey.

Dubey explained that there are several dubious websites and apps which are asking voters to give out their details to change their address and know about their constituencies or candidates. Hackers are always ready to take advantage of this situation.

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The magnitude of this election can be estimated by the fact that over 900 million voters are expected to participate and millions of others sitting across the globe will be keeping a watch. It is going to be one of the biggest political fights which will decide the next government of India.

Much before the announcement of the poll schedule, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had launched programmes for citizens for the verification of their names, new registrations, changes in voter details and corrections in voter identity cards. The ECI has enabled various channels and has set up contact centres in all districts across India. Taking advantage of this opportunity, cybercriminals have made several platforms, which either looks associated with political parties or public figures, with the aim of stealing people's personal information.

The hackers' modus operandi is simple: they create an app, website or a malicious link and ask an individual to fill a survey, verify their details for voter identification or donate for a political party, but at the back end, they are simply capturing users’ data which are further sold in dark web.

Explaining how these criminals are making a dent in voters' pockets, another cybercrime expert Ishaan Sinha told MyNation, “I have come across many cases where election-related queries are misused. But the most interesting is how they are stealing your details and money by asking people to participate in surveys. Criminals have made an interesting poll survey in which users have to click a link and download an app and then choose their favourite politicians, their age, and at the end, have to make a donation of Re 1. But at the back end, this malicious app, which appears to be from a political party or a trusted source, siphons off all user data including credit card details as soon someone donates the money.”

Sinha highlights that a user should double check the name and source of the platform on which they are making payment or giving out details. Criminals are getting smarter day-by-day and it is extremely important to stay extra cautious.