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Cyber Crimes: Introduction

Internet has become an indispensable part of our existence. Have a question? Post it on the internet! Have an opinion? Share it on the internet! However, every good thing comes with a price- and in the cyber world your privacy is the price you pay!

The bottom line is - Internet can prove to be unsafe, if we fail to be cautious since there is a high possibility of breach of privacy and security. While some use the internet for work, for entertainment, others might use it for the sake of committing a ‘cyber-crime’. A Cyber Crime is an illegal act that takes place through the medium of a computer, any electronic device or the internet.

From sharing of a scandalous MMS to a credit card fraud, child pornography to cyber terrorism, illegal downloading to identity theft, ‘cyber crime’ is a broad term that constitutes different types of crimes. Currently, cyber-crime is the most common and uncontrolled form of crime in the world, with ever increasing statistics, methods and the ever growing possibilities. Internet can be a boon or a bane, depending on the user!

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QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE!

Before proceeding, please answer the following questions-

  • Are you on any social media?
  • Have you activated Internet banking?
  • Do you have an e-mail address?
  • Do you own a laptop or a computer?

Sorry for the uncanny interest in your likes and dislikes, but if your answer to any of the above question is in the affirmative then yes, you can be a target!

Unlike many others, there are people constantly developing new ways to obtain your personal information through e-mails, ads, offers, etc. You must have noticed that your spam folder is always filled with e-mails of people willing to transfer their fortune in your name; or that advertisement vigorously blinking, announcing you as a lucky winner amongst a billion, winning a million pounds.

Now, there is nothing amiss in receiving e-mails, online advertisements or chatting with absolute strangers, but there is a high probability of these correspondences being a scam. The personal information you reveal to others can be easily manipulated by an educated criminal for his benefit.

Not only does having an online presence put one at risk, but even owning an electronic device makes you vulnerable to become a victim of cyber crime. Mobile phones, laptops, computers, card swiping machines are all prone to the risk of hacking.

The kinds of threats we encounter daily on the internet are-

  • Hacking
  • Identity theft
  • Spam e-mails
  • Cyber Stalking
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Phishing
  • Cyber Squatting
  • Malware
  • Trojan Virus

Before you panic, delete all your social media profiles and sell off your computer to the pawn shop, it is important to stress on the fact that these are mere threats and can be avoided by being cautious!

The biggest dilemma with Cyber Crime is that we never know who we’re dealing with. When we fall prey to a cyber crime, the best recourse is to file a complaint against it at the earliest possible instant, without fail. While most of us tend to forgo the complaint, thinking it to be a tedious procedure yielding no results - truth be told - it is a rather simple and effective procedure. 

The steps to filing a cyber complaint are - 

  1. You need to provide your name, address and contact number along with an application to the Head of Cyber Crime Investigation Cell regarding the offence that has been committed against you.
  2. Provide all the documents and information that you can gather regarding the crime. For example

; in case of hacking- server logs, soft copy and hard copy of compromised data, suspects, impact of the hacking etc.

; in case of harassment or abuse- soft and hard copy of the offending e-mail/ image/ text, source of origin (if possible), etc.

That is all you need to do! 

To make the process even easier, you can file the complaint online by simply sending an e-mail to the Cyber Cell in your area. You can also file a complaint with local police who shall forward it to the designated Cyber Cell.

Also, there’s good news that the government has decided to provide a centralized citizen portal through Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) for registering online cyber crime complaint which will accept complaints against crimes apart from cyber crimes. It will not only prove to be more efficient and effective but it will also help in promoting the growth of a digital India.

With developing technology, there has been an exponential growth in the number of Cyber Crime cases and the law makers have realised the importance of a more watertight and all encompassing legislation!

In case of Cyber Crimes, the Criminals are not our quintessential law breakers. They are law breakers, having expertise in technology with a penchant for breaking security codes and committing crimes. Owing to the advancement in technology, it is important that our police force be a step ahead of the criminals who might pose as a threat to our cyber security, in order to tackle them in their trade!

Having realised the importance of a better piece of legislation, the police with the help of the government, are taking steps to ensure security over the internet-

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has started a programme for setting up of infrastructure for investigation and training of the users, particularly police officers to collect and analyse the digital evidence.
  • A cyber forensics training lab has been set up at Training Academy of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to impart basic and advanced training in Cyber Forensics and Investigation of Cyber Crimes to Police Officers associated with CBI.
  • The government has prepared a budget for Rs 775 Crores to create a national level mechanism to counter cyber security threats.
  • Maharashtra has recently converted Cyber Labs into Cyber Cells and plans to open such Police Stations in every district, dedicated solely to combat cybercrimes.
  • Delhi Police has organised programmes to educate police personnel about how internet is used for committing crimes. They are also in talks of providing access to the software FBI uses for combating cybercrimes.

However, the implementation remains a big issue. The rate of conviction is much lower than the rate of complaints lodged in police stations. In majority of cases police are yet to begin investigation.