INCREASE IN CYBER CRIMES IN INDIA DURING COVID-19

Authors:

Poorvi Bhati, Indore Institute of Law

Smrithi Athreya, Christ University, Bangalore

Editor: Akanksha Chowdhury, Department of Law, Calcutta University



'Working from home' has become the order of the day throughout this precarious lockdown. The manner of accomplishing the assignments has radically modified, with engaging from home as the sole viable choice. Dependence on the internet has enhanced complex since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused restrictions on physical gesticulations.

During the lockdown, all the private just as government offices have remained closed and most employees are working from home, making security the next significant concern. Security of companies is at stake as all data, for example, financial information, trade secrets, customer information, and such other confidential information of the company is accessible to the employees from their homes with a click of a button. Employees need to take the most extreme care of the company's data and secure it from other members of the family and friends to evade misuse of data or breach of confidential information. Aside from the company's information, personally sensitive information and monetary information of an individual is additionally in danger considering the increase in the Cyber Attacks.

PREVALENT CYBER- CRIMES

The Crown Prosecution Service(CPS) guidelines categorise cyber-crime into two general categories: cyber-dependent and cyber-enabled crimes.[1] A cyber-dependent crime is an offence, "that must be committed using a computer, computer networks or other type of Information Communications Technology (ICT)".[2] Cyber-enabled crimes are, "traditional crimes, which can be increased in their scale or reach by the use of computers, computer networks or other forms of Information Communications Technology (ICT)”.[3]

Although cyber-crimes are increasing endlessly, there has been an upsurge throughout the lockdown due to individuals doing all the official as well as unofficial work from their laptops or phones. Besides hackers directly attacking the systems, fake websites are being created to lure the users.

Interpol's cybercrime program discharged a report[4], and identified the most recent modes and threats. online scams, phishing, and disruptive malware, which has the dreaded ransomware, are the prominent modes of attack.

Spyware, Malware, Ransomware, and COVID-19 – Virus Attacks:

During this period of the lockdown, people are accessing social media websites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., more frequently notwithstanding watching movies and series by subscribing to web channels like Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar, Zee 5, etc. and enjoying online games by installing various applications. Every one of these activities is supported by the internet. Numerous times, to purchase apps or access online services, budgetary information also is shared by the users. Furthermore, taking into account the 'stay home, stay safe' government notification, people have become more dependent on various payment gateways to cover their utility tabs, premiums, recharge their mobile phones, purchase medicines, and essential commodities online, and indulge in various such online activities.

To maintain a strategic distance from such attacks various agencies are suggesting certain counter-measures and healthy practices that one can adopt. Operating systems and secured apps are sending regular updates to their users to resolve security vulnerabilities and provide extra security. As per the recent report of the International Criminal Police, Cyber Attackers were attempting to target major hospitals and medical institutions in 194 countries including India to acquire information about COVID 19 through ransomware and malware.

Phishing:

Phishing is the cybercrime where the criminal accesses the data and details of the user through a connection or e-mail that looks legitimate however is in reality, fraudulent. Phishing attacks have mushroomed to an outsized range throughout this lockdown. Spy-attacks and Ransom attacks are sitting a threat to individuals submitting personal data online. An application known as 'Covid lock' is employed as ransomware to focus on the anxious population, misrepresenting the same as an application to keep track of the unfold of the novel coronavirus.[5]

Hacking at Corporations and Offices:

The measure of cyber-attacks on numerous corporations has multiplied complex times since the corona occurrence. Corporations have got wind of a VPN structure, to let the workers have access to any or all the data, that has become the target of the hackers.[6]

Hackers have even tried to hack the computers of the Indian State Tax Department to steal sensitive data of PAN Cards, GST numbers, phone numbers, and e-mails. PM's COVID-19 store has also been one of the targets of the Hackers.

Patients at Risk:

There are cyber-attacks not solely at native hospitals or check centres however furthermore at the World Health Organisation (WHO) to steal the passwords of WHO staff. Ransomware attacks are detected in hospitals and different check centres wherever the necessary files of the patients are taken and not came until a selected amount of ransom is paid.

Other online Crimes Associated With Social Media:

Social networking apps like Facebook, WhatsApp became a very significant tool to unfold fake information. The Digital infrastructure across the world is vastly comprised of those international tech-giants like YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. fake news' triggers the individuals, as they aimlessly believe these reports, and begin reacting consequently. Besides this, these online apps are victimised to sexually harass individuals.[7]

EXISTING CYBER LAWS IN INDIA Information Technology Act, 2000[8] is that the only specific actions we have that is the basis of cyber laws and provides for various cyber crimes, their penalisation, and adequate Remedies.

The ransomware attacks are punishable underneath Section 66 E and 66 F of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Under section 43 of the IT act, Hacking could be a civil offense however if committed in an exceedingly dishonest means the person is punishable with imprisonment underneath section 66 B.

The offense of phishing is punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine up to 1 lakh underneath Section 66 C of the IT Act.

Section 72 and 66 of the IT Act provide for the crime of cyber-stalking and online harassment.

Besides IT Act, 2000, the Indian penal code, 1986 additionally provides with a number of the punishments and remedies for cyber-crimes:

Section 419 of IPC provides for the frauds by impersonation.

Section 354 of IPC provides for the crime of cyber-stalking and online harassment and its penalisation with imprisonment up to 2-3 years.

The persons spreading fake news is arrested underneath Section 505 of the IPC.[9]

The courts in India have also recognised cybercrime, for example, the Gujarat High Court in the case of Jaydeep Vrujlal Depani V. State of Gujarat[10] held that ‘the offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as the Internet(networks including but not limited to Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones (Bluetooth/SMS/MMS)’.[11]

While the IT Act does not make any distinction between cybersecurity and data privacy, in our view, these issues are distinct yet also deeply interconnected as ensuring the privacy of a person's data requires adequate cybersecurity processes to be implemented by organisations.

HIATUS IN THE EXISTING INDIAN CYBER LAWS

Even though there are some laws and remedies within the IT Act, 2000 however there are plenty of hazy situations. These include intellectual property rights together with copyrights, infringement, and trademark. Moreover, there are no specific inclusions or scams against the large corporations and therefore need to be treated uniquely underneath the sections of hacking and online fraud. No separate policies are enacted for taking care of cyber crimes against the health care sectors.

Territorial Jurisdiction is another major issue that isn't specifically dealt with by any cyber law. Since cyber crimes are PC and internet-based crimes, the hacker is far-sitting and perhaps in another state and therefore determination of jurisdiction is troublesome. Since most of the proofs are online and in systems, the destruction of the confirmation is simple.

Besides this, the already existing laws are restricted solely to the theoretical punishments because it is not simple to prosecute the criminal because of obscurity.

CONCLUSION The COVID-19 pandemic has also an increased rate of cyberattacks. Additionally to this, rates of unemployment have augmented, which means a ton of individuals is sitting at home online. The blend of increased levels of cyber-attacks and cyber-crime means there might be implications for policing far and wide law enforcement must ensure it can deal with cyber-crime.[12]

The lockdown has exposed the weak cyber-laws and after around a 5% increase in cyber-crimes, the government has shifted some focus to the present aspect, and therefore the cyber centres and cyber-police became active. However, the government additionally has to come up with some stronger laws, procedures, and methods to get the hackers. Besides, there is a requirement to introduce some security applications to stop the companies' systems and hospital computers from hacking.

With a little vigilance and due diligence, we can protect our data and privacy. It is always better to stay in favour of precaution however, on the off chance that, even after playing it safe, we fall into a snare after which a fast action can salvage the loss. It is advisable to protest with the appropriate authority.

[1] CPS, Cybercrime - prosecution guidance, The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Tech. Rep., 2019, https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/cybercrimeprosecution-guidance. [2] M. McGuire and S. Dowling, Chapter 1: Cyberdependent crimes, Home Office, Tech. Rep., 2013, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government /uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/ file/246751/horr75-chap1.pdf [3] Chapter 2: Cyber-enabled crimes - fraud and theft, Home Office, Tech. Rep., 2013, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads /system/uploads/attachment data/file /248621/horr75-chap2.pdf [4] Global Landscape On COVID-19 Cyberthreats. [5] Ridhima and Arshdeep Singh, Growth in Cyber-Crimes in the COVID-19 times and Fragile Cyber Laws in India, 22 September, 2020, https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/growth-in-cyber-crimes-in-the-covid-19-times-and-fragile-cyber-laws-in-india/ [6] Ridhima and Arshdeep Singh, Growth in Cyber-Crimes in the COVID-19 times and Fragile Cyber Laws in India, 22 September, 2020, https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/growth-in-cyber-crimes-in-the-covid-19-times-and-fragile-cyber-laws-in-india/ [7] Ridhima and Arshdeep Singh, Growth in Cyber-Crimes in the COVID-19 times and Fragile Cyber Laws in India, 22 September, 2020, https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/growth-in-cyber-crimes-in-the-covid-19-times-and-fragile-cyber-laws-in-india/ [8] Cybersecurity in India, 24 February, 2020, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=4cd0bdb1-da7d-4a04-bd9c-30881dd3eadf#:~:text=India%20does%20not%20have%20a,and%20the%20cybercrimes%20associated%20therewith. [9] Cybersecurity in India, 24 February, 2020, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=4cd0bdb1-da7d-4a04-bd9c-30881dd3eadf#:~:text=India%20does%20not%20have%20a,and%20the%20cybercrimes%20associated%20therewith. [10] R/SCR.A/5708/2018, https://lawtimesjournal.in/cyber-crime-legal-provisions-and-legal-recourses/#_ftn2 [11] Cyber crime – Legal Provisions and Legal Recourses, September 19, 2020, https://lawtimesjournal.in/cyber-crime-legal-provisions-and-legal-recourses/#_ftn2 [12] B. Collier, S. Horgan, R. Jones, and L. Shepherd, The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for cybercrime policing in Scotland: a rapid review of the evidence and future considerations, ser. Research Evidence in Policing: Pandemics.

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