Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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There is need for cyber security experts in police force

Recently, one of my friend’s email account was hacked and with the help of that account his other accounts like Facebook, Twitter were also affected. On his timeline, provocative religious abuses were posted. Some objected about it and known one called him and unknown warned him about the consequences. Finally, with the intention to solve this issue, we went to police station and informed the police about the same. In a rude reply, police office said that they are not here to see, who hacked your email accounts and recover it unless a financial crime occurs. Your case will not be taken on priority. Now, it’s your choice to complain or not to complain. Then, we approached cyber security expert, who helped us to deactivate the FB account by complaining the Facebook about the same. However, he lost that account and it couldn’t be recovered. From last seven years, Mumbai police is talking about the reforms in cyber cell branch and training the police. However, nothing concrete has been done in this regards and cyber police station is not even up to date.

Rising at an alarming rate, the number of cybercrimes in the country may double to three lakh in 2015 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. As per the study’s findings, total number of cybercrimes registered during 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 stood at 13,301, 22,060, 71,780 and 1,49,254 respectively.

There was a three-fold increase in cybercrime cases registered in Mumbai between 2013 and 2014. Between January 1 and October 31 last year, 418 cases were registered under the Information Technology Act, with 142 people arrested. In the same period in 2013, the police registered 136 cases and made 86 arrests. Of the cybercrimes recorded this year, maximum were related to e-mails and SMSes with obscene content. This year, 104 cases of obscene e-mails and SMSes were registered in the city, up from 28 last year. Until October 31 last year, the police recorded 103 cases of credit card fraud or cheating, compared to 27 in the corresponding period in 2013, revealed data available with the Mumbai Police.

Recently, Maharashtra CM asked the police to increase monitoring of social media; special squads dedicated to investigate cybercrimes will soon be operational in each of the 93 police stations in Mumbai, early next month. These cyber squads will aim to take the load off the existing two cyber police stations, as well as allowing citizens to lodge cybercrime complaint at the closest police station. Fadnavis said social media labs had to be better equipped to increase their efficiency. He added that acquisition of advanced monitoring systems would be funded. Government is also in process of identifying tech-savvy officers across the city for our cyber squads. At present, cybercrime cases are largely probed by the Cyber Police Station in Bandra-Kurla Complex and the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell located in Crawford Market, which are specially equipped to probe these types of crimes. At present, police stations are dependent on help from cyber police stations and the cybercrime investigation cells that provide technical assistance. They are not self-sufficient to deal the issues on their own capacity.

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. Government drafted a plan to deploy nearly 1,000 sub-inspectors to tackle cybercrime. But for that, police needs additional man power. Looking at the geographical conditions of state and specially Mumbai, there is scarcity of police personnel. Police department needs manpower and infrastructure. Police personnel are not provided with adequate training and there is need of information technology experts to curb cybercrimes. Then Congress and now BJP are on the same path, they both just made announcements but never worked on issues. Currently, a senior police inspector has the power to take action under the IT Act. Constables are 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 should be set up in Mumbai, as 80 per cent of infrastructure is online. 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 for the state, but also for the country. The state is planning to rope in Nasscom to set up a ‘Cyber Force’ comprising 1,000 qualified professionals, who will be posted in cybercrime labs at district level. These trained personnel will help cops to crack crimes in the domain of internet and ensure 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. Currently, the state police are dependent on labs in Gujarat and Hyderabad as cases remain pending for at least three years. Phishing attacks on online banking accounts or cloning of ATM/debit cards are common occurrences. Maximum number of offenders belong to the 18-30 age group. 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; government should act swiftly towards improving the cybercrime cell and secure people from cyber criminals.

Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 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 she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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