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CYBER SECURITY – IS THERE ENOUGH AWARENESS ABOUT IT?

INTRODUCTION

While the Internet changed the world for the better on many fronts, it also made people more vulnerable than ever before. Cyberspace offers great opportunities, but cyber security is equally worrisome. As the Internet grew, so did the incidence of cyber-attacks, cybercriminals are using new pathways to target Internet users with enhanced technological capability. It is essential to have an effective cyber security system to protect its users due to the growing ability of cybercriminals to target people, especially women and children.

WHAT IS CYBER CRIME?

According to Norton Lifelock’s 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, having direct knowledge of a crime committed using technology over the Internet is referred to as cybercrime. This includes crimes when a computer is used to victimise a person, such as through theft or fraud, as well as crimes that target other computers and connected devices to gain access to the data on the equipment or to negatively affect the performance of the equipment. Examples of cybercrime according to Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report[1] are

  • Identified potentially harmful software on a computer, Wi-Fi network, Smartphone, tablet, smart home, or other connected devices (e.g., spyware, ransomware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, etc.)
  • A response to a fake email, text message, or website asking for personal or financial details or money.
  • Users become aware that a data breach has exposed their personal information.
  • You learned that someone stoleand exploited your personal information without your permission over the
  • Threats to users include the leaking of private information such as stolen online videos, pictures, or sensitive personal images.
  • Detected unauthorised access to your personal or home WiFi network, webcam, social media accounts, emails, online shopping accounts, banking accounts, gaming accounts, or other online accounts.
  • Been stalked, bullied or harassed online.

Cyber-attacks are low-cost but efficient, anonymous but designed to suit specific goals. McAfee research[2] estimates that cybercrime losses surpass $1 trillion, which might help you to realize the scope of the problem. According to numerous estimates, there are a sizable amount of cybercrimes committed against women and children. With the introduction of the Internet of Things, the risk will rise.  This technology will exponentially expand the dependency on electronic equipment with the internet, making users of such devices a far larger target for cyberattacks, particularly on women and children.

THE MAGNITUDE OF CYBERCRIME IN INDIA

With an estimated 600 million internet users, India is the second-largest market in the world. With the continuous development of new technologies like 5G, this market is expected to expand quickly. That makes it a source of great opportunity and as well as increases the concern about cybersecurity. In 2021, identity theft affected 27 million Indian adults, and 52% of the population is uninformed on how to protect themselves from it, according to a report by the cybersecurity software company Norton LifeLock[3]. Additionally, according to data from the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal, which was established by the Ministry of Home Affairs, over 3,17,439 cybercrime incidents and 5,771 FIRs had been reported nationwide as of February 28, 2021. Of these, 21,562 cybercrime incidents and 87 FIRs had been reported in Karnataka, and 50,806 cybercrime incidents and 534 FIRs had been reported in Maharashtra. Only registered incidents are included in this figure, which highlights the scope of cybercrime in India[4].

LAWS GOVERNING CYBERCRIMES IN INDIA

The Information Technology Act of 2000[5], which was later updated in 2008, was passed to impose restrictions on these kinds of attackers’ ability to commit cybercrimes. This is commonly referred to as Cyber-law. For offences involving technology, this Act specifies penalties and compensation. Anyone who has been a victim of cybercrime has the choice to take the offender to court to seek redress.  The Information Technology Act of 2000’s Section 43A[6], which deals with fines and reimbursements for offences including “damage to the computer, computer system, or computer networks, etc.,” states that the victim has the right to submit an appeal in court to seek restitution for the harm he suffered. Any company that handles sensitive data or information, or keeps it for its own or the benefit of others, and recklessly compromises such data or information will be held liable under this section and may be required to pay damages, at the discretion of the court[7]. The penalties for “tampering with computer source documents” are outlined in Section 65 of the Act[8]. It reads in part: “Whoever knowingly or intentionally conceals, destroys or alters or intentionally or knowingly causes another to conceal, destroy or alter any computer source code used for a computer, computer programme, computer system, or computer network when the computer source code is required to be kept or maintained by law for the time being[9]”.

In addition, some cyber offences that are not covered by the IT Act are handled by other laws, such as “Cyber-defamation,” which is dealt with by the Indian Penal Code, 1860[10]. Because the repercussions of such an online infringement are the same as those that would result outside, there is no need for a distinct definition elsewhere. This Act defines “Defamation” and the associated penalties.

HOW TO PREVENT CYBERCRIME?

While complete internet security and cybercrime eradication may not be possible, anyone may minimise their vulnerability to it by maintaining an effective cybersecurity plan in place and using a defence-in-depth approach to secure systems, networks, and data. There are many ways to prevent cybercrime, including updating your software, using a full-service internet security suite, creating strong passwords, managing your social media settings, securing your home network, staying informed about significant security breaches, taking precautions to help protect yourself against identity theft, monitoring your kids, having conversations with your kids about the internet, and being aware of what to do if you become a victim.

AWARENESS OF CYBERCRIME AND CYBERSECURITY IN INDIA

Our nation was quickly impacted by the Internet, but many of us were not prepared for its security and how to use it securely. Important topics like internet protocol and digital safety were never taught to most of us. Most people do not even know about cybercrime and the types of cybercrime, especially women and children. Many kids have had a bad online experience. Cyberbullying, “eve teasing,” impersonation, and child pornography are some of these encounters. For example, even though Facebook claims that the social networking site is intended for users 13 years of age and older, kids as young as 11 are now using it. Social media usage is improper among children. Unknowingly, they could publish incriminating images of themselves online, which are subsequently altered and used against them in cyberbullying. A very small amount of percentage of ladies knows that any cybercrime is committed against them and even if they are aware of it. Due to the victim’s hesitation, shyness, and concern over the tarnishment of the family’s reputation, the bulk of cybercrime stays undetected. The girl frequently thinks she is too responsible for the crime. Because of their worries, women occasionally choose not to report crimes, which increase the morale of the criminals even more.

CONCLUSION

India faces significant difficulty due to the lack of user knowledge regarding the Internet, cyber laws, and risks. Making users aware of the risk and preventing them from falling victim to cyber frauds is a challenge for law enforcement agencies as well as the government when they consider the many user groups, from tech-savvy to novice users, as well as people with various socioeconomic situations, ethnicities, cultures, and age groups. Due to human error and a shortage of qualified cyber professionals, we have noticed that the amount of cybercrime case files is escalating faster than the number of cases that have been successfully resolved. To settle cyber cases and increase confidence in security, we, therefore, need greater training facilities and a required branch of the subject. Nevertheless, we can strive to defend ourselves. We can secure our information, data, gadgets, and ourselves by taking the above steps, even though no institution or anti-virus can entirely protect someone.

Author(s) Name: Himanshu Mishra (St. Mother Teresa Law College, Lucknow University)

References:

[1]2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, “How We Define Cybercrime” <https://www.nortonlifelock.com/content/dam/nortonlifelock/global/images/non-product/infographics/How-We-Define-Cybercrime.pdf> accessed on January 17, 2023

[2]  McAfee Report, “Hidden Costs of Cybercrime Beyond Economic Impact” (7 December, 2020) <https://www.mcafee.com/de-ch/consumer-corporate/newsroom/press-releases/press-release.html?news_id=6859bd8c-9304-4147-bdab-32b35457e629 >accessed on January 17, 2023

[3]Norton LifeLock, “Based on online survey conducted by The Harris poll” (February, 2021) <https://www.nortonlifelock.com/content/dam/nortonlifelock/global/images/non-product/infographics/2021-Norton-Cyber-Safety-Insights-Report_IN-Identity-Theft-Incidence.jpg > accessed on January 17, 2023

[4] The Hindu, “3.17 lakh cybercrimes in India in just 18 months, says govt” (9 March, 2021) <https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/317-lakhs-cybercrimes-in-india-in-just-18-months-says-govt/article34027225.ece >  accessed on January 17, 2023

[5] The Information Technology Act of 2000

[6] The Information Technology Act, 2000, s 43A

[7]<https://indiankanoon.org/doc/76191164/#:~:text=(iii)%20%22sensitive%20personal%20data,as%20it%20may%20deem%20fit.%5D> accessed on January 17, 2023

[8] The Information Technology Act, 2000, s 65

[9]<https://indiankanoon.org/doc/273571/#:~:text=%2DWhoever%20knowingly%20or%20intentionally%20conceals,or%20maintained%20by%20law%20for> accessed on January 18, 2023

[10] The Indian Penal Code, 1860