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Train police personnel for curbing cyber crimes

Ours is the country where 75 per cent of the infrastructure has gone online. The next war will be fought in the cyberspace and we need to be prepared for it or else India’s progress will be hampered. We need to be worried about the sharp rise in the number of cyber crime 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 cyber crime. 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 halt cyber crime. Then Congress and now BJP are on the same path, they both just made announcements but never worked on issues.

Recently Maharashtra CM asked the police to increase monitoring of social media; special squads dedicated to investigate cyber crimes 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 cyber crime complaint at the closest police station. Fadnavis said social media labs had to be better equipped to increase their efficiency. Government is also in process of identifying tech-savvy officers across the city for our cyber squads, but since ages this never ending search is on. At present, cyber crime 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 cyber crimes. At present, police stations are dependent on help from cyber police stations and the cyber crime investigation cells that provide technical assistance.

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 the city, as 80 percent 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. Cyber crime has become a big menace not just in the state, but also across 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 cyber crime labs at, district level. 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 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. 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.

Few days back, my friends email account got hacked and with that email all his other accounts like FB and other accounts too was compromised and on his time line, provocative religious abuses were posted. Some took objections; some called him and warned about the consequences. Finally, to solve this issue, we went to police station and informed police about the same. In very flat reply police told, we are not here to ensure recovery of your email accounts unless there is no financial crime the case won’t be taken on priority, now the choice is yours to file complaint or not . Later, we approached some cyber security personnel, they got his FB page banned by reporting about the same and any how the hacked account couldn’t be recovered.

Rising at an alarming rate, the number of cyber crimes in the country may double to 3 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 cyber criminals, 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 cyber crimes 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 cyber crime cases registered in Mumbai between 2013 and 2014. Between January 1 and October 31, 2015 418 cases were registered under the Information Technology Act, with 142 people arrested. In the same period in 2014, the police registered 136 cases and made 86 arrests. Of the cyber crimes recorded in 2015, maximum were related to e-mails and SMSes with obscene content. That year, 104 cases of obscene e-mails and SMSes were registered in the city, up from 28. Until October 31, 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.

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 a 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. Cyber security is a “Cat and Mouse” game, the IT admin managing a network or server has to keep him updated and the computers. But most IT admins in Govt. sector are Govt. employees and hired on basis other than the qualification. They then do what all the government employees do best. Instead, these tasks should be outsourced to some private Indian company. Secondly, any security company will tell you this, if there is a confidential data then do-not-connect that machine to internet, period. But in a large organization where office are far away and need to access the data, then allow only that which is required, and that too over secured layer.

Education is important for any government officer. Also understand that a determined attack will be able to break in. First, let us make the real space safe. We should worry about imaginary stuxnets attacking our installations after sorting out real threats of a mundane kind that take aim at our country, which are poverty, tiny mean microbes, and above all, real education in its true sense. If we work on this, the youngsters of today who are now coding their youth away for money, will take care of stuxnets and bigger threats, and not let graying men in suits worry about them. Indian Government seems to have a problem with freedom. The Internet gives people freedom and the Indian Government doesn’t like it. The Indian public is not concerned with the likes of STUXNET to their public utilities when a rain shower can cause a power cut. The only problem for individuals is identity theft when thieves using other people’s identities to obtain goods and services. Other countries in Asia use and embrace the internet but in India, there is fear. 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 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.

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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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