Cybercrimes are increasing at an alarming rate in India. With no strong cyber security and privacy protection laws in place, the situation has reached alarming proportions and needs strong corrective measures from the government. In 2015, over 315,000 cases of cybercrimes were registered in India, as per the National Crime Records Bureau. This was an increase of over 100% from 2014, when over 149,000 cases were registered.
Cybercrimes are carried out over the cyberspace which involves a network device like computer/smartphone/server and a network like the Internet, Wi-Fi, LAN/WAN etc. In some cases, the device is used to commit the crime, whereas in other cases, it may have been the target. The major forms of cybercrimes prevalent in India include hacking, theft, cyber stalking, identity theft, cyber bullying, spreading malicious software, and child soliciting and abuse.
“Due to the great rise in popularity of IT-enabled services such as internet banking, e-governance, online business and electronic transactions, protection of personal and sensitive data has assumed prime importance. It’s right in our face. We can choose to ignore it or act against it. Every day thousands of serious crimes like hacking, virus/worm attacks, Denial of Service (DOS) attacks have caused damage to the tune of billions of dollars around the world,” Lakshmikant Dubey, cyber security expert and former black hat hacker, told The Sunday Guardian.
Dubey, who tests cyber security apparatus for multi-billion dollar companies, said that cybercrimes have, over the years, moved on from exploring the web for fun to serious crimes. “It isn’t funny anymore. These crimes have far-reaching effects. There is cyber terrorism at large, IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) violations, EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) frauds, identity theft, bullying, and child soliciting. It’s an uncomfortable situation. You cannot ignore the scenario when around 10,000 cybercrimes are being registered every day. It means several times more are happening and going unreported or undetected. We do not have any solid mechanism to monitor cyber offences. We are far from being able to stop them, for now at least,” Dubey added.
In 2015, ASSOCHAM released a report called “Cyber and Network Security Framework” on the increase in cybercrimes in India over the past five years. The report found that during 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, the total number of cybercrimes registered were 13,301, 22,060, 71,780 and 1,49,254 respectively. The study had predicted a compounded annual growth rate of about 107%.
While flagging the weak cyber security infrastructure in India, D.S Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM, said, “The economic growth of any nation and its security, whether internal or external, depends on how well its cyberspace is secured and protected. What is causing even more concern is that the origin of these crimes is widely based abroad in countries including China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria among others.” Shyam Khera, noted cyber law expert and consultant to Symantec Systems who make softwares for cyber security, said: “India is vulnerable. Digital India cannot be achieved with negligence to cyber security.”