WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES IN CYBERSPACE

INTRODUCTION

White-Collar Crime is a kind of crime committed by a person with high respectability and high position like bureaucrats, advocates, doctors, engineers, etc.  They, by using their knowledge if committed crimes with the object of getting financial gains which are known as White Collar Crimes (WCC). Seventy years back, this was not considered a separate term. Only fifty to sixty years ago this became a separate term. This term was first used by Sir Edwin Sutherland in 1939 and conducted many studies based on this. The reason for using this term is that he found that law enforcement was only focused on conventional crimes like theft and offences committed by the lower class and ignored the shady practices and illegal activities done by the elite and business class. Therefore he wanted to focus more on them and used the term WCC which focuses more on these criminals and crimes committed by the elite class. In 1949 he defined WCC and defined it as a crime that is committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation. But he later redefined it and said White Collar Criminal is a person of an upper socioeconomic class who violates the criminal law in the course of his occupational or professional activities.

The main motive was to get more profit or achieve more economic gain illegally and as a result, will break the entire country’s economic backbone. In WCC, it is known as a victimless crime since here 1st hand victim is not there. In the case of conventional crime, the victim will be aware of the property loss and as a result that he suffers. But this is not so here because the impact of WCC is on the entire country’s economy which will be broken. And since when such WCC happens, people are not much vigilant, and individual complaints are also not made or will not arise from a private party as a result of it. Now, this is because it is difficult for the private party to understand the gravity of loss. Even if they’re vigilant, the accused will be highly influential and they are more chances that they’ll not be convicted in the end. So this is why Edwin gave more focus to WCC. White-collar crime can be conducted by a single person or by a group of people in a huge business deceiving investors. With the advancement of the cyber world, the number of crimes committed via it is expanding at such a rapid rate that laws are falling behind in catching up. The most catastrophic cyber-attacks have suggested that a new breed of crime, known as cybercrime, is emerging. This is the umbrella word for all computer-related crimes[1].

WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES AND CYBERSPACE

After 2000 a lot of changes happened in the technological era. Internet became faster, new devices emerged, transactions happened over phones and computers and so these economic crimes shifted to the virtual world. At the beginning of the technology, there would be a lot of technical lapses and people were also not aware of how to use it. But these criminals know the security lapses, how to use them since they’re highly educated. They create a web to catch the prey. The main point is that it is more convenient for those people involved here since they’re not caught by the law enforcement, since they have no clarity in that as there were no laws too. So these lacunae become a haven for these cyber criminals or WCC criminals. India’s internet usage is steadily increasing. It has opened up new possibilities in every industry imaginable, including entertainment, business, sports, and education. A coin has two sides to it. The internet has its own set of drawbacks. Cybercrime, or unlawful activity on the internet, is one of the primary drawbacks. Along with its benefits, the internet has exposed us to the security threats that come with connecting to a huge network[2]. Computers are now being used for unlawful purposes such as e-mail spying, spam, software piracy, and other activities that infringe on our privacy and irritate our sensibilities.

WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES IN CYBERSPACE

  • HACKING

Hacking is a word that refers to gaining access to a computer or the internet without the concerned person’s authorization. Hacking is the manipulation of a computer’s information system’s inner workings. Hackers target a user’s personal information for financial gain and monetary advantage. Other motivations for hacking, such as someone accessing his family’s email account, are technically considered hacking. In India, sections 65 and 66 of the Information Technology Act deal with hacking, whereas section 70 of the Act[3] stipulates the penalties for it. According to the legislation, hacking include introducing harmful software, erasing information, downloading copies, interfering with data, and gaining unauthorized access to data. Hacking is divided into White, Black, and Grey hackers. Only black and grey hackers come under the WCC since they intend to make some profits by stealing data or taking control of their data.

  • SALAMI ATTACKS

Salami Attacks” are most common in the financial sector. Because they make such little changes, these attacks go unreported. These attacks are targeted at banks. Generally, banks have a main central server. The perpetrators of this crime will try to attack the main server and get the credentials of all the customers. After getting that access to the server and getting the credentials of the customers and will loot small amounts of money from each customer’s account and no one will be able to identify that. For example, Rs.1 might be taken by them from each account of a customer and if the bank has 1 Lakh customers, then they collectively get Rs.1 Lakh. The Ziegler case, in which ten cents was taken from the bank’s account, is an example of a Salami Attack. It was happening in every deposited sum. Similarly, the Wanna cry ransomware demanded ransom in the form of bitcoins cryptocurrency by computer users running the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data in an instance that occurred recently in May 2017[4].

  • THEFT OF IDENTITY / IDENTITY THEFT

To perpetuate financial fraud, this includes adopting another person’s identifying details, such as their name, address, date of birth, or Aadhaar number. Fake passports and IDs are frequently used to commit crimes and avoid being apprehended. These identity thefts are mostly motivated by money or informational gain. These white-collar crimes take place on the internet in real-time, without our knowledge. In January 2009, the largest case of identity theft occurred when Albert Gonzalez was jailed for conducting a global plan to steal data from 130 million credit and debit cards by hacking into seven major firms. He is one of the most powerful cybercriminals in the United States[5]. Before the 2008 amendment, data theft in India was covered under Section 66 of the IT Act. However, new crimes have been added to sections 66A through 66D of the IT Act as a result of the modification.

  • PHISHING

Phishing is a type of online impersonation when someone pretends to be someone else. It can be done by getting access to personal information using someone else’s login credentials, by using someone else’s digital signature in electronic contracts without consent, or by cloning the sim cards of mobile devices so that an account can be made using someone else’s information. The most revolutionary case was that of Amar Singh and Neha Punjabi Singh. An Indian married couple in the United States perpetrated the most innovative identity theft. They have defrauded a total of $ 13 million by swiping credit cards and phishing on the internet. The identities that were retrieved from the internet were sold to other persons who used them to stay in 5-star hotels, rent costly automobiles, and fly in private aircraft. For the selling of these identities at a reduced price, a retail market has emerged[6].

2011 ICC World Cup: This is one of the most advanced incidents of phishing, in which a clone of the ICC website has been created. They entice guests with a variety of World Cup-related programs and deals. Users were requested for their credit card information as well as other personal information. This was done exclusively for the sake of making money[7].

  • COPYRIGHT PIRACY

It is one of the most prevalent and constant forms of internet white-collar crime. On the internet, copyrighted data is occasionally distributed, downloaded, and shared. The torrent is the most extensively utilized copyrighted data download hub. Intellectual property regulations apply to this activity, which might include trade secrets, music, movies, and other items. There are millions of offenders globally, and media firms are pressuring law enforcement to crack down on piracy offenders. E.g. nowadays, telegrams are being used by people to watch all the new release movies since the app sends links to groups that contain the entire movie. Similarly, VPNs are used by people to watch movies from banned sites and it is not easy to trace them out.

STATUTORY PROVISIONS TO DEAL WITH THE CYBER CRIMES

The Indian parliament deemed it important to give effect to the decision by which the General Assembly accepted the United Nations Commission on Trade Law’s Model Law on Electronic Commerce. As a result, on May 17, 2000, the Information Technology Act of 2000 was approved and put into effect. The Indian Penal Code 1860, the Indian Evidence Act 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act 1891, and the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934 all have preambles that state that the purpose of this Act is to legalize e-commerce and amend the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Indian Evidence Act 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act 1891, and the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934. The primary goal of incorporating these adjustments is to make them compliant with the Act of 2000. So that they may more effectively manage and oversee the operations of the online world.

Section 43, Sec.66, Sec.67, Sec.68, Sec.70, Sec.72, Sec. 73, and Sec.74 deal with these crimes and prescribe punishments for them.[8]Through advancements in technology have made it easier and more user-friendly for consumers to carry out their everyday tasks, it has also resulted in a harsh world of security threats from organizations such as hackers and crackers. Various information technology solutions have been established to curtail such detrimental behaviours to meet the technology’s core objectives of providing users with a sense of security. The following are some of the most common tactics used to combat cybercrime:

  1. Encryption: This is a crucial technique for securing data while it is in transit. This approach converts plain text (readable) to ciphertext (coded language), which the recipient of the data may decode by transforming it back to plain text using the private key. No one can access the sensitive information except the receiver, who owns the secret key to decode the data.
  2. Synchronized Passwords: These are password schemes that are used to alter the password for both the user and the host token. The password on a synced card is changed every 30-60 seconds, making it only usable for a single log-on session. To impute passwords and passphrases, other relevant techniques provided include signature, voice, fingerprint identification, retinal and biometric recognition, and so on.
  3. Firewalls: These keep sensitive materials from being leaked or accessed by erecting a barrier between the system and potential intruders. Only data that is recognized and confirmed by one’s system would be allowed to enter into the computer. It only allows those who have previously registered with the computer access to the system.
  4. Digital Signatures: These are formed by applying algorithms to cryptography. This is widely used in the banking industry, where customers’ signatures are verified using this approach before banks engage in large transactions.

CONCLUSION

In the online era, technological progress has given birth to white-collar crimes. These crimes are difficult to identify because they cause minimal change, but their aggregate influence is considerably more than we realize. It is impossible to completely eradicate cybercrime from the internet. It is possible to examine them. To combat crime, the only option is to educate people about their rights and responsibilities, as well as to make law enforcement stricter. Without a question, the Act marks a watershed moment in the history of cyberspace. The regulations governing white-collar cybercrime are extensive, far-reaching, ever-changing, and sometimes difficult to comprehend. To make matters worse, law enforcement is frequently behind the times in terms of technology, and prosecutors may seek heavier charges and punishments for crimes they don’t fully comprehend. Another issue with white-collar cybercrime is that it takes a long time to investigate these crimes, which can take anywhere from a month to a year. These crimes are committed in secrecy, but our laws have begun to adapt in response to these immoral practices. It’s like an ‘eye for an eye situation, where the only way to stop cyber terrorists is to grasp the technology they’ve taken over. Even if technology improves to the point where it can effectively combat computer-related crime, there is no assurance that it will remain beyond of reach of cyber terrorists. As a result, nations must update their laws, whether through changes or the adoption of a sui generis system.

Author(s) Name: K. Bavana (VIT University, Chennai)

References:

[1] Titiksha Rajendra Narkhede, ‘White-Collar Crimes and Cyberspace’ (Indian Law Portal, 26 May 2020) <https://indianlawportal.co.in/white-collar-crimes-cyberspace/> accessed Feb 26, 2022.

[2] Akshat K, ‘White Collar Crimes with special reference to Cyber Crimes’ (Legal Services India) <http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/255/White-Collar-Crimes—cyber-crimes.html#:~:text=The%20remedy%20provided%20by%20the,1%2C%2000%2C%2000%2C000.&text=IT%20Act%2C%202000%20has%20defined,damage%20to%20the%20computer%20code.> accessed Feb 26, 2022.

[3] Information Technology Act, 2000.

[4] Asklovya Panwar ‘White Collar Crime in Cyber Crime’ (iPleaders, 4 August 2017) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/white-collar-crime-cyber-crime/> accessed Feb 26, 2022.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Allie Compton, ‘Largest Identity Theft case in US History’, (Huffpost, 6 December 2017), <https://www.huffpost.com/entry/largest-id-theft-in-history_n_1751241> accessed Feb 26, 2022.

[7] Supra note 4.

[8] ‘White Collar Crimes – Cyber Security’, (Geeks for geeks, 31 January 2022), <https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/white-collar-crimes-cyber-security/#:~:text=White%2Dcollar%20crimes%20refer%20to,copyright%20infringement%2C%20and%20many%20more> accessed Feb 26, 2022.

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