Concerns of Cyber Security: Working from Home during the Covid-19 Pandemic


AUTHORED BY:

Girisha Meena, Gujarat National Law University

Anamika Chhabra, FIMT, IP University

EDITED BY: Smaraki Nayak ,Amity Law School, Noida


INTRODUCTION - Facts and Concerns:

The Covid-19 pandemic has bound almost everyone to work from home, globally and led to severe economic disruptions. According to BBC, more than 70% employees are doing their work from home globally and in India, according to The Economics Times, about 90% of employees worked from home with 65% of them from homes in metros and rest 35% from homes in small towns[1]. The information related to internet scams, phishing scams and the rapidly increasing cybercrimes is a basic requirement for the employees who are working from home. According to Absolute 2019 Global Endpoint Security Trend Report, 42 per cent of endpoints are unprotected at any given time. There is an immediate need of cyber security education. The cybercriminal masterminds are seeking advantage of work from home situation of coronavirus pandemic as more people are using the internet. Criminals have a chance of wide spreading frauds and scams. For most of us, work from home is totally new and hashtag work from home (#workfromhome) is the new trend on social media. People on social media are exposing their home office setups through sharing stories and posts. This may seem fascinating but it exposes our personal information to criminals who can scam us.

Cybercrimes are one of the biggest threats to organizations. According to the official Cybersecurity venture report, cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015 and this is larger than illegal drugs business. According to The Hindustan Times, the work from home initiative is succeeding in India. We can say that antivirus or firewall protection in not sufficient to remain protected from frauds. International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) warned government agencies, businesses and other organizations of the risks involved with letting employees work from home without secure devices.[2] Many organizations said that they were unprepared for the frauds and scams in this situation. Recent surveys show that phishing attacks have increased by 40% in the pandemic. The hackers and criminals are well equipped because they mostly work in big groups.

In the most recent Zoom application controversy, the Indian government raised questions on the privacy of Zoom application and considered it as a unsafe platform which the students and employees are using to handle day to day work and meetings.

DATA PROTECTION LAWS IN INDIA

Information Technology Act, 2000

The following sections are introduced by IT Amendment Act, 2008 and made the changes in IT Act, 2000:

Two main sections relating to privacy are:

Section 43A-[3]

“If, failure to protect data then compensation for wrongful gain and wrongful loss must be compensated and reasonable security must be practised.”

Section 72 A[4]-

“This section relates to when someone disclose any personal information and caused wrongful gain or wrongful loss while giving services under a lawful contract.”

Internet use is growing day by day and becoming a part of lifestyle. In the 21st century, online privacy is a big concern; people are afraid that their personal information may be leaked on the web. In daily life, we come across cases such as Cyber bullying, stealing of credit cards, tracking by visiting websites or clicking on a pop-up, capturing personal information and email ids and sending them to third parties without even notifying us for the purpose of selling them, as they see personal information as a source of income. Everything that is linked to the internet now can be hacked in minutes. It can be your computer, mobile phone, T.V, and CCTV, etc. When we install applications or build an account on social media platforms, we grant them permission to access our personal data such as camera, gallery, contacts, updates without reading their terms and conditions. It improves their ability to capture, track and control our data.[5] (Virdi, 2020)

Internet has almost changed every person's day-to-day life style. You don't know how and when and by whom you are being tracked. People are intimidated, abused, and web-blackmailed. Their images are misused. We need to admit that anyone can notice everything we do on the web, because it leaves digital traces.

MAJOR ISSUES OF DATA PRIVACY:

The primary issues that are before us are protection of information. We're only one click away to get a lot of information, while it gives us an immense amount of knowledge, it also contributes to vast quantities of our knowledge leaking to the rest of the world: -

1. Data collection

2. Spying and Snooping

3. Information Mishandling

4. Location Tracking

5. IP address tracking

There are many events and cases that demonstrate that our data is not protected in the virtual environment. Even the top organizations cannot guarantee 100 per cent data protection. In 2019, America levied about 35,000 crore fine on Facebook, which was the largest fine in the decade levied on any of the corporations for leaking public personal data Facebook has routinely used disclosures and settings to compromise consumer privacy preferences in violation of its 2012 Federal Trade Commission order. Such strategies allowed the company to share consumer personal details with third-party apps accessed by the Facebook user's "mates".

The COVID-19 pandemic and the imposed lockdown, has led to more people at home with many more hours to spend online each day and increasingly relying on the Internet to access services, they normally obtain offline. The dangers of cyber-crime have been there for many years, but the increase in the percentage of the population connected to the Internet and the time spent online, combined with the sense of confinement and the anxiety and fear generated from the lockdown, have provided more opportunities for cybercriminals to take advantage of the situation and make more money or create disruption. This seismic change in how we live and use the Internet has prompted a proliferation of e-crimes.

On a similar note, with regard to attacks against other key organizations and infrastructure actively dealing with the virus response, INTERPOL's Cybercrime Threat Response Team has also warned of cybercriminals using ransomware to hold hospitals and medical services digitally hostage, preventing them from accessing vital files and systems until a ransom is paid. Several countries have registered cyber-attacks from unknown hackers at the expense of national health institutions, extremely critical infrastructures during the time of a pandemic. In Italy, on 1st April, a cyber-attack was conducted against the Spallanzani Hospital, 14 a center of excellence in the research on the coronavirus. A week earlier, also the Spanish Police has issued a warning that the entire computer system of Spain's hospitals was being targeted in a cyber-attack by a ransom ware that targets enterprise and government agencies. During the same week, the World Health Organization (WHO) was also attacked.

At the same time, the lockdown has also significantly increased concerns about vulnerable persons online. While children, for instance, are greatly benefiting from e-schooling, they are equally more exposed to threats coming from the internet file-sharing abuse, inappropriate content, and the grooming of children for sexual purposes are some of the dangers their parents should be aware of in these challenging times. The elderly, who usually rely on offline shopping and have now to purchase what they need from the internet, equally find themselves more exposed to cybercrime.

Another side-effect of the protracted lockdown has been a growing demand for pornography. The industry has seen an increase in the number of users, but also concerns are being raised about vulnerable categories being pushed into exploitation, including drug addicts and children trafficked by families in need.

CONCLUDING SUGGESTIONS:

The world has revolutionized through the internet and it has now become a global village, but we cannot deny its negative aspects. The statutes and law enforcement can only do so much. It ultimately falls on ourselves to protect ourselves in the virtual world. Here are a few suggestions as to how one can do that:

· An individual must assume responsibility for his or her information and should protect his or her personal information instead of providing information to any site or clicking on any pop-up.

· Most importantly, he should understand where to give knowledge, where not to and what should and what should not be given.

· Choose the securest Internet browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

· Check your files before installing the anti-virus program. Don't reuse multi-website passwords.

[1] Sridhar Mitta, Work from home has been 'successful' during Covid-19 lockdown. What next? ET CONTRIBUTORS (JULY. 02, 2020, 11:04 AM), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/work-from-home-has-been-successful-during-covid-19-lockdown-what-next/articleshow/75470580.cms [2] Andrew Martins, Cybersecurity tips for working from home, BUSINESS NEWS DAILY (JULY. 02, 2020, 11:05 AM), https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15701-coronavirus-remote-cybersecurity.html [3] The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India). [4] The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India). [5] Virdi, R. S, Digital Privacy and Security (Cyber Security), TOGETHER WE CAN.WE WILL. (JUNE. 30, 2020) https://www.togetherwcww.com/2020/06/digital-privacy-and-security-cyber.html

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