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HomeEditorialGovt must act swiftly towards improvising cybercrime cell

Govt must act swiftly towards improvising cybercrime cell

Maharashtra Police and government are making every effort to address cybercrime related complaints. Lodging complaints relating to cybercrimes will be a lot easier now. One has to simply walk into your nearest police station to lodge a complaint regarding bank card fraud or hacking for instance. Every city police station now has a separate cybercrime cell. Earlier, everyone had to rush at the lone cybercrime police station in Bandra-Kurla Complex. Anyway, this sounds very interesting but the reality is not that comfortable. To improve cyber detection and to improve conviction rate, the police department has put up a proposal to the state government to set up a separate cyber court, but unfortunately, the interpreters of law are not cybercrime experts, so, how the crime happened, which method, from which IP and the type of attack to forensics of it would be a new challenge for the lawyer and judge both. The move to have a cybercrime cell at each police station was initiated by police due to the rise in a number of white collar crimes and a shortage of staff at the only cyber police station, but the irony is that the staff is not well updated or trained. That is the reason; the cybercrime is not easily detected.

Ours is the country where 75 per cent of infrastructure is gone online, the next war would be cyber war and we need to be prepared for it else India can stall back to 10 years if we get cyberspace attacked. We need to be worried about the sharp rise in the number of cybercrime cases in the state and law enforcement agencies’ inability to bring the crooks to book. The government drafted a plan to deploy nearly 1,000 sub-inspectors to tackle cybercrime. But for that, the police needs additional manpower. Looking at the geographical conditions of the state and especially Mumbai, there is a scarcity of police personnel. The police department needs manpower and infrastructure. Police personnel are not provided with adequate training and there is a need for information technology experts to halt cybercrime. Then Congress and now BJP are on the same path, they both just made announcements but never worked on the issues. Currently, a senior police inspector has the power to take action under the IT Act. Constables are just not aware of the subject itself.

Mumbai is home to many important national financial institutions like RBI, Bombay Stock Exchange, IIT, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, and TIFR. Under such circumstances, it is essential that CERT is set up in Mumbai, as 80 per cent of infrastructure is online. A few months ago, when a proposal was moved to block some websites, which were promoting “anti-India” sentiments, it took a long time to check such portals. Cybercrime has become a big menace not just in the state, but also across the country. The state was earlier planning to rope in Nasscom to set up a ‘Cyber Force’ comprising 1,000 qualified professionals, who will be posted in cybercrime labs at the district level. This trained personnel will help cops to crack crimes in the world of internet and ensure the conviction of the criminals. To ensure gathering of evidence in a scientific manner, the government needs to set up a network of mobile forensic labs at every police commissionerate. But nothing has yet happened, all these promises remained in files and police force is not capable of dealing with virtual crime. Currently, the state police are dependent on labs in Gujarat and Hyderabad and as a result, samples remain pending for as late as three years. Phishing attacks of online banking accounts or cloning of ATM/debit cards are common occurrences. A maximum number of offenders belong to the 18-30 age group, added the report. With increasing use of information technology (IT), enabled services such as e-governance, online business, and electronic transactions, protection of personal and sensitive data have assumed paramount importance. It’s high time this government should act swiftly towards improvising cybercrime cell and secure people from cybercrime.

A few days ago, my friend’s email account got hacked and with that email, all his other accounts like FB and other accounts too got hacked and on his timeline, and the hacker posted all provocative religious abuses. Some took objections; some called him and warned about the consequences. Finally, to solve this issue, we went to police station and informed the police about the same. In a very flat reply, the police told, we are not here to ensure recovery of your email accounts unless there is no financial crime and the case won’t be taken on priority, now the choice is yours to file a complaint or not. Later, we approached some cybersecurity personnel, they got his FB page banned by reporting about the same and anyhow the hacked account couldn’t be recovered. Mumbai police from seven years are talking about the reforms in cyber cell and police training but nothing is yet concretely done, they are not even upgraded.

Rising at an alarming rate, the number of cybercrimes in the country may double in the coming years and could pose serious economic and national security challenges. The increasing use of smartphones and tablets for online banking and other financial transactions have increased risks. India has emerged as a favourite among cybercriminals, mostly hackers and other malicious users who use the internet to commit crimes such as identity theft, spamming, phishing and other types of fraud.

There was a three-fold increase in cybercrime cases registered in Mumbai between 2013 and 2014. Between January 1 and October 31, 2016, 418 cases were registered under the Information Technology Act, with 142 people arrested. In the same period last year, the police registered 136 cases and made 86 arrests. Of the cybercrimes recorded this year, maximum were related to e-mails and SMSs with obscene content.

A viable approach would be to tax IT companies/services profit and earmark an amount for the creation of a National Institute of Communications Research that will attract and keep hold of the best talent from around the world and will be managed on pay for presentation basis. With Indian IT industry being very short term profit focused, it is unlikely that some major effort will emerge without government coordinating it. Cybersecurity is a “Cat and Mouse” game, the IT admin managing a network or server has to keep him updated and the computers. Same goes for the people working in that office or home. But most IT admins in the government sector are government employees and hired on the basis other than the qualification. These then do what all the government employees do best. Instead, this should be outsourced to some private Indian company. Secondly, any security company will tell you this, if there is any confidential data then do-not-connect that machine to the internet, period. But in a large organisation where office is far away and need to access the data, then allow only that which is required, and that took over secured layer.

The government is in the process of putting in place the capabilities and the systems that will enable us to deal with this anarchic new world of the constant and undeclared cyber threat, attack, counter-attack, and defense. We need to prepare ourselves to deal with both, threats to cyberspace and risks arising through cyberspace.


(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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