The Growing Issue of Cyber Crime in the Technological Age

Cybercrime is a growing issue globally and in India. There are daily news reports of cyber crimes across India and very few are under the assumption they will remain immune to such crime. Cybercriminals use sophisticated and simple techniques to commit crimes; there is significant awareness of cybercrime and of need to create an infrastructure that protects against it.

Cybercrime is a growing issue globally and in India. There are daily news reports of cyber crimes across India and very few are under the assumption they will remain immune to such crime. Cybercriminals use sophisticated and simple techniques to commit crimes; there is significant awareness of cybercrime and of need to create an infrastructure that protects against it. 

Cyber Crime Statistics are Alarming 

In India and globally, Symantec is the acknowledged leader in cybersecurity. A Symantec report published in January 2019 reveals that globally India is the third least honest country on the Internet. The report reveals that over half of Indian adults have lied online. This means half of the Indian adults have lied on their social and professional networking sites as well as on other platforms. Clearly when of the hundreds of millions of Indian adults online, half have created profiles that contain lies or profiles that are completely false, many, including employers, must have been duped in one way or another. 

The statistics are grim. Symantec reveals that 76% of Indians have been victims of some form of cybercrime and 60% have been victimised because of computer viruses and malware. A tiny minority, only 8% do not believe they will fall victim to cybercrime. Clearly, the overwhelming majority of Indians considers cyber crime a significant threat. In India, only 10% of people feel very safe online. Not only do many Indians believe they will fall prey to cybercriminals, the majority, approximately 57%, believe cybercriminals will never be brought to justice.  

Cybercrime stirs up emotions as well. 58% of Indians felt angry when victimised by cybercrime and 51% felt cheated. 46% of Indians felt annoyed or upset when victimised by cybercrime. Measures taken by those victimised by cybercrime included changing online behaviour and not visiting risky websites; 59% and 53% of those who fell victim to cybercrime took these measures respectively. 46% of those who fell victim to a cybercrime called their bank immediately. The average cost of resolving a cyber crime in India was 5,262 INR and on average it took 44 days to resolve a cybercrime. 45% of cyber crimes in India were never resolved. 

Crucially, 41% of Indians believe that once a company's reputation has been tarnished because of cybercrime it can never be completely restored.

The Symantec report reveals that over the last 5 years, there has been a 457% increase in cybercrime in India. India ranks third with respect to the number of cybercriminals living in the country and third in the number of cybercrime victims.

Among Indian cities, most cybercrime takes place in Bangalore. This is likely because Bangalore has a significantly well-developed technology infrastructure. The city with the second highest incidences of cyber crimes is Mumbai followed by New Delhi at a distant third. The number of cyber crimes reported in Bangalore is nearly 4 times that reported in New Delhi.     

Types and Instances of Cyber Crimes 

There are several kinds of common cyber crimes including DDOS, botnets, identity theft, cyberstalking, social engineering, and phishing attacks. 

Recently an instance of cybercrime came to light when Microsoft filed a case against two Noida based call centres. The two call centres would advertise on Google as Microsoft IT Support staff. Both call centres employed approximately 500 staff and when any member received a call for support from the US, the caller would be asked to remotely hand over control of his or her laptop to the employee. Upon seizing control of the laptop the call centre staff would create a fictitious reason for its malfunctioning and ask for $300 to $400 dollars to repair it. Unless callers paid the amount, the call centre staff would not relinquish control of the laptop. Upon payment, control of the laptop would be relinquished to its rightful owner. The FBI became involved and eventually, between 400-500 call centre employees, including its owners were arrested. This is just one recent example of organized cybercrime, there are innumerable others and many such crimes never see the light of day. 

Other forms of cybercrime include identity theft. In instances of identity theft, an individual’s may impersonate another for financial gain. Identity theft occurred at a leading university in India where an employee who had a legitimate university email address promised others jobs at the university in exchange for money. The racket was perpetuated for nearly 2 years without anyone noticing. The person responsible for the racket was apprehended only after he had stolen a significant sum from others.  

Installing malware and viruses on other's Smartphones, laptops, desktops is another form of cybercrime. Malware can be used to monitor a Smartphone, laptop, or desktop and steal information like passwords that grant access to bank accounts. Viruses can wreak havoc on a laptop, smartphone, or desktop. There are daily news reports of cybercrime including instances when SIM cards are compromised and an OTP meant for the rightful owner of the SIM card is sent elsewhere leading to an unauthorised withdrawal from the SIM card owner’s bank account.    

Threats from Within Exceed Those from Without

Large and small companies that use IT systems face the greatest cybersecurity threat not from outside, but from their own employees. When a data theft occurs in a large Indian entity the perpetrators are likely to be employees working within the organization rather than hackers from outside. Obviously, this is because those working for a company already have access to internal databases and information. Employees may also steal intellectual property or commit identity theft.

Companies Need be Afraid

The online world presents as much or more risk of theft and fraud as the real world. What makes online fraud especially dangers for companies that hold vast quantities of customer data is if such data falls into the wrong hands, it can irreparably damage the company’s reputation. It’s alarming that a recent report revealed 69% of Indian companies face the risk of a cyber attack. This means an astoundingly large number of Indian companies are at risk of cyber attack and the data and personal information of their customers may be easily compromised. 

Companies need to recognise that while storing data on the cloud offers many advantages, doing so also poses a huge number of security risks. Cybercriminals and hackers can gain access to data stored on poorly secured and sometimes even on well-secured networks. Stand-alone systems used earlier weren’t susceptible to similar security risks. 

Potentially, Cyber Insurance is a Solution 

The need for cyber insurance is felt by NASSCOM. The need for it has been proposed by DSCI or Data Security Council of India. Cyber insurance will protect against data theft, intellectual property theft, and cyber attacks. Those who purchase cyber insurance will be compensated when they fall victim to cybercrime. 


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