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‘Cyber-crime’ Before and After Lockdown

Cyber-crimeThere was a huge rise in cyber-crime during pandemic situation.  The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought huge impact not only for financial condition or health related, but also related to employment. Social distancing was the major concern in those days, where digitalization was the only scope of communication. From home chores to business deal or student’s study everything was available online only. Numerous apps have been launched at that point of time. The e-commerce business has also got boost in the business. So, somewhere digitalization helped us a lot to cope up with this new normal. But, there is a dark side also, the cyber-crime rate has seen a dynamic increase between this pandemic. Such activities (cyber-crime) have broken all the records of every year. Though the potential of cyber-crime is under the purview of cybersecurity companies but the volume and the sophistication has churned up to new heights. According to a report, India has marked a 37 per cent increase in cyberattacks in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, as compared to the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019. Not only that, according to a report by Subex, for three months (April, May and June) in 2019, India faced the most cyber-attacks in the world. The report also mentioned that the most cyber-attacked countries in 2019 were the US, India, UK, Singapore, Ukraine, UAE, Nigeria, Japan, South Korea and Spain respectively.

Covid Related Cyber-crime in India

Due to social distancing, people were fully dependent on zoom calls, virtual meetings, online businesses, etc. We got to know about those applications, which we have never heard before. The usage of social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. had also increased, and due to cinema shut down, people were more focused towards web channels (OTT platforms) like Netflix, Amazon, HotStar, Zee 5, etc. Online games were also one of the time pass during the lockdown. While using these applications, people shared not only their email ids, but financial details also.  Due to insecurity of covid pandemic, a person visit several websites where they always ask for cookies acceptance or any other kinds of permission, and from that point of time, you unknowingly give permission to access your personal details. There were huge number of fake apps, domain names and websites capitalizing on two facts, first, the fear among the general public and their search for information related to this pandemic and secondly, the companies across the globe are turning to ‘work from home’ via the online medium.

The increasing rates of cyber-crime in India and attacks have more affected those people, who were working remotely.

While sharing an example with Economic Times, Lt. Gen. Rajesh Pant, India’s National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) shared that there are thousands of “fraud portals” related to the coronavirus launched by cyber criminals, which lure number of Indians eager to contribute to the fight against coronavirus into making donations. Many of these phony sites are quite sophisticated, virtually indistinguishable from their genuine counterparts.

Cyber attackThe major scam was created by the name of ‘PM CARES’ coronavirus fund. Originally it was created by the Prime Minister, which was aimed to combat, contain and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak. Wherein, number of fake ‘PM Cares’ sites were created to mislead and create a malicious activities. According to a news site, India’s Home Ministry said that more than 8,000 complaints had been received from Indians both home and abroad who had duped into giving money to fake versions of the government’s flagship fund.

Not only that, last year, a cyber-attacker had tried to sale ‘statue of unity’ for $4 billion, claiming the proceeds would be used to help the Gujarat state government in its fight against coronavirus.

Reality Check

HACKERSThe clash between China and India turned heads of global affairs. As recently, India’s largest intelligence provider for enterprise security Recorded Future has assumed that RedEcho, a China-linked organization has some kind of role in electricity disruption of Mumbai which was held in October last year. The disruption of electricity had left over 20 million of the city’s residents without power for several hours. Recorded Future has also reported that RedEcho was targeting, at least, 10 distinct Indian organisations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin while talking during a press conference denied these allegations and said “As a staunch defender of cybersecurity, China firmly opposes and cracks down on all forms of cyber-attacks. Speculation and fabrication have no role to play on the issue of cyber-attacks, as it is very difficult to trace the origin of a cyber-attack. It is highly irresponsible to accuse a particular party when there is no sufficient evidence around. China is firmly opposed to such irresponsible and ill-intentioned practice.”

So, reality is not clear yet. But assumption is clearly blaming Chinese hackers.

Government Initiatives

There are several initiatives taken by the Indian government to overcome cyber-attack in the country, which are:

  • Union Ministry has recently announced Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) in Jammu & Kashmir. In this initiative, the government has requested common people to register as cyber-crime volunteers to help check posts against the sovereignty of the nation, on child and women abuse and attempts to disturb the law and order situation.
  • While seeing the cyber-crime in India, the Tamil Nadu government has announced to set-up 46 new cyber-crime cells across the state. According to the order, the major districts such as Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, Tirunelveli, Tiruppur, and Tiruchirapalli, a dedicated police station have to be quickly handle the complaints related to cyber-crime.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has invited Indian citizen to get registered themselves in any of three categories of cyber volunteer. The first category is Cyber Volunteer Unlawful Content Flagger, which will identify illegal and unlawful content like child pornography, rape and gang rape, militancy, radicalization, anti-national activities and immediately inform the government. Second is, Cyber Awareness Promoter, where volunteer can aware others about cyber-crime including vulnerable groups like women, children and elderly, and rural population; and the last is Cyber Expert, who will handle the specific domains of cyber-crime, forensics, network forensics, malware analysis, memory analysis and cryptography.

Conclusion

Cyber-crime in India is a huge trouble for each and every one, we unknowingly share our details and fall ourselves in a trap. We have to be aware about such activities and a person needs to be smart and must take enough knowledge of cyber-crime. Although, today every industry can be hacked by such fraudsters, but if we see the way of online bank does business, they take confirmation twice from you. You also have to follow their way and first read the acceptance box or also confirm with sender on call or through message, because there are numbers of hackers who can collect your whole data by getting an OK click from you.

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Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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