RISE IN CYBER CRIME DURING COVID-19

Updated: Oct 25

By Shreya Sharma, DRASInt Risk Alliance Private Limited


‘Anyone who thinks that security products alone offer true security is settling for the illusion of security


– Kevin D. Mitnick


Introduction


The Internet has become one of the integral parts of our daily life. The development in Information Security and electronic media since 1980s has given rise to a new variety of computer-related crimes or cybercrimes. The widespread growth of these crimes has become a matter of global concern and a challenge for the law enforcement agencies in the new millennium. Cybercrime or a computer-oriented crime is a crime that involves a network medium where a computer is an object of the crime or is used as a tool to commit an offense.


Cyber-crime

As per IT Act 2000, Cybercrime is any illegal behavior directed by means of electronic operations that targets the security of computer systems and the data processed by them (IT Act, 2000). Cybercrime is progressing at an incredibly fast pace, with new trends constantly emerging. The computer is used as an instrument to further illegal ends such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities or violating privacy. Cybercrime, especially through the Internet, has grown in importance as the computer has become central to commerce, entertainment, and government. Cybercrimes originating from and affecting India are escalating rapidly. According to the Cybercrime survey report 2014, 89% considered cybercrime as a ‘major threat’. 30 million Indians had become cybercrime victims, which cost the Indian economy $ 7.6 billion a year (Nir, 2016). Cybercriminals are becoming more agile, exploiting new technologies with lightning speed, tailoring their attacks using new methods, and cooperating with each other in ways. Cybercrime aims to damage computers for reasons other than profit, which could be either political or personal. Criminologists have been highly motivated to learn the extent of the effects and causes of cybercrime.

Cybercrime is evolving and growing in response to the COVID 19 global pandemic. Due to the increasing cases of cyber violations, there’s urgency for more robust and comprehensive cyber security measures. According to Economic Times report, The Ministry of Home Affairs of India claims that the nation has witnessed a staggering 86% rise in cyber attacks between March and April 2020 (ET CISO, 2020). The advancement in technology and accessibility of the internet has eased the pressure of work of the individuals by staying connected virtually and carrying out the responsibilities towards the organization while staying safe at home in this global pandemic. During the lockdown and work-from-home situation, the usage of the internet for work, social networking, dissemination ad absorption of news/information, and other entertainment purposes have exposed the digital devices/ information systems to vulnerability and attacks in cyberspace. Cybercriminals may victimize people using either of several modus operandi, such as phishing, malware attacks, identity theft, fake news, etc.


Alarming Trends

In the first week of April 2020, Maharashtra police filed a case against an unidentified online fraudster who placed an advertisement on an online market place, tried to sell the grand ‘Statue of Unity’ for USD 4 million, claiming that the money will be utilized to support a state government in tackling COVID-19 situation. Cybercrime respects no geological borders and evolves at a faster pace with the facilitation of the internet. Meanwhile, scammers created fake versions of the flagship ‘PM CARES Fund’ payment interface that looks deceptively similar to the original and many Indians that look deceptively similar to the original and many Indians and NRIs had fallen prey. The Home Ministry of India reports suggested that they had received over 8,300 complaints from individuals across India and NRI, who donated thousands of dollars into fake accounts (Adhirup Roy, n.d.).


Causes of Cyber-crimes


Digital India may have become a soft target for criminals. An increase of 63.5 % in cyber crimes last year (Republic world, 2020) was recorded. It has been seen that criminals are choosing to migrate from physical space to cyberspace due to advancement and continuous dependence on the internet. Cyberspace crime and criminality are motivated by several factors:


Curiosity


Young people are fascinated by the Internet and associated digital technologies and are increasingly getting access to them. UNICEF reveals that one-third of Internet users around the globe are children (Livingstone, Carr, & Byrne, 2016). Young people are curious by nature and experimental. This curious mindset may lead some intelligent young people with excellent internet skills to inadvertently engage in deviant and criminal behavior online. For example, they may attempt to guess passwords to gain access to someone else account.

Mischievousness


it is one of the root causes of information security incidents in organizations. The act of mischievous making is an age-long phenomenon (Gercke, 2012). The makers tend to employ the internet as a tool to execute their nefarious activities as the internet can grant them relative anonymity. These mischievous individuals can be any current or former employee, political opponent, former known one or other.


Peer Influence


Young internet users may be influenced by their peers. Hackers often form social communities with online friends who may exchange information to hack accounts. Peers enter into ‘a flight of fancy’ enables the young people to commit cybercrime damning the consequences just to impress their delinquent peers. Hacking is often practiced by peers.


Poverty


it is posited that economic conditions exert countervailing effects on criminal motivation and criminal opportunity. Human beings strive to satisfy their needs and in the absence, they may resort to illegitimate means and pursue cybercrime.


Financial Gains


Some of the cybercrime operations entail defrauding the victim for profit as a pecuniary motive. For example, there’s a huge spike in job-related frauds due to the ongoing pandemic. Digital thieves target consumers as digital baits to rip them off from various malware schemes like ransomware and malvertising (use of online advertising to spread malware by injecting malicious or malware-laden advertisements into online advertising networks and webpages).


Revenge Mission


Some individuals may use the internet as a medium to seek revenge. The attacker, in this case, maybe a disgruntled employee, an aggrieved ex-employee, a political opponent, and anyone with revenge orientation.


Criminal Interest


Organized crime groups that carry out traditional activities are now utilizing the new criminal opportunities. One such motivation for such interest is that the internet guarantees the criminals their anonymity and drastically reduces their risk of doing ‘business as their chances of apprehension are relatively low (Ndubueze, 2020).


Preventing Cyber-crime

Criminal law in India means offenses against the state, it includes felonies and misdemeanors. The standard of proof for crimes is beyond a reasonable doubt. A Cyber-crime has all these ingredients. Some time-tested measures which can be adopted against Cyber-crimes to reduce its impact are:
  • Use antivirus software or a full-service internet security suite.

  • Insert firewall as an extension.

  • Uninstall unnecessary software.

  • Maintain backup.

  • Check security settings.

  • Strengthen your privacy while maintaining your social media settings.

  • Stay anonymous- choose a genderless screen name.

  • Avoid giving personal information as it maintains confidentiality standards.

  • Stay updated about the then-current internet privacy.

  • Use strong passwords to disable the access by unknowns.

  • Take measures to help protect yourself against identity theft.

  • Educate your family members.

FILING THE REPORT

Besides traditional methods and filing a complaint on the social media site where the crime has taken place, some of the states accept online Cyber-crime reports. You will require the screenshot of the offense, the details of the data or compromised deal, financial statements, list of suspects, suspected mail/messages correspondence, etc. a written application, and your Aadhar Card. Act as quickly as possible under genuine legal advice.

DRASInt Risk Alliance Private Limited acts as your Consultative Investigative Unit (CIU) for Field Investigation Services and Surveillance. We specialize in investigations related to Arson, White Collar Crime, Financial Fraud and Malpractice, Corporate frauds and Forgery. We specialize in Protective Intelligence, Industrial Surveys, Asset Verification, Accident Investigation Services and Fire Damage Investigation Services, Character Report, Background Verification, Identity Verification Services, Pre-Employment Check, Documentary Proofing, Bank Card Verification, Digital Forensics Services and Forensic Audit Services, Insurance Fraud investigation and Insurance Claim Verification. We also undertake to investigate Anti-Counterfeit Services, Infringement of Trade Mark, Trademark Verification and Pilferage of Good. As a private investigator we undertake Property Dispute and Asset Verification Investigations, investigations related to Matrimonial Discord, Extra Marital Affairs, and Spouse Fidelity and Pre Matrimonial Verification. Sourcing and provisioning of Security Manpower and Equipment, and to conduct Security, Investigation, Intelligence Awareness Training programs are some of our other specialties.


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REFERENCES

  1. Adhirup Roy, N. A. (n.d.). Scammers try selling world’s tallest statue as pandemic boosts India’s cyber crime _ Reuters.

  2. ET CISO. (n.d.). Cyber crime trends, digital safety amidst COVID-19 pandemic, IT Security News, ET CISO.

  3. Gercke, M. (2012). Cybercrime Understanding Cybercrime : Understanding Cybercrime: Phenomena, Challenges and Legal Response, (ITU), 366. https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/11/1/013005

  4. IT Act. (2000). Offences Under IT Act, 2000 - Academike.

  5. Learn, J. (n.d.). THE LINK BETWEEN UNEMPLOYMENT AND CRIME RATES - JustLearning %.

  6. Livingstone, S., Carr, J., & Byrne, J. (2016). One in Three : Internet Governance and Children ’ s Rights. Innocenti Discussion Paper No.2016-01. Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series, (January), 37. Retrieved from https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/idp_2016_01.pdf

  7. Ndubueze, P. N. (2020). Chapter Four Nature , Causes and Consequences of Cybercrime in. (February).

  8. Nir, K. (2016). Crime, Law and Social Change , 66 (3), 313–338. ***©. 66, 313–338.

  9. Republic world. (n.d.). 63.

  10. Reuters. (2020). Scammers try selling world’s tallest statue as virus boosts cyber crime _ Asia News _ China Daily.

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