The internet is making the world a smaller place. Due to its global reach and accessibility, it is the hotspot for one of the most advanced forms of crime – cybercrime.
Despite the innumerable software and laws offering protection against cybercrime, it is difficult to limit the instances considering the fact that advanced technology can grant you access into even the most secured networks.
Image : shutterstock
According to the data collected by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), cybercrimes in India have risen by a good 19 times over the last ten years (2005 to 2014), from 481 in 2005 to 9,622 in 2014, and these are just the reported cases. To top that off, India has been ranked third – after the USA and China – as a source of malicious activity on the Internet, and second as a source of malicious code.
Keeping in lieu the country’s largely repressive internet laws, the penalties for cybercrime are quite harsh. According to a report, under the IT Act, the most number of reported cases were computer-related offences, of which 4,192 were under Section 66A. This allows the perpetrators of the crime, jail terms up to two to three years for sending “offensive messages through communication service” and related offences.
However, Section 66A of the IT Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in March last year, where it stated that “such a law hit at the root of liberty and freedom of expression, the two cardinal pillars of democracy.”
Considering the alarming growth rate of cybercrime in our country, here is a list of the top four of the same, on the basis of their constant (reported) recurrence.
Malware refers to different kinds of viruses, Trojans, Worms, and other harmful software that latch on to your computer without you realising their presence. Possibly one of the most commonly executed cybercrimes in India, malvertising takes place when cyber-criminals insert malicious advertisements on the websites without the knowledge of the latter. To avoid suspicion, they even display clean ads for a particular time, following which these are replaced with malverts. Once clicked, malicious code is downloaded onto the device. Half of the time, the encroached websites do not even realize that they were hampered by cybercriminals, considering the latter is sure to remove these malverts from the site once they have reached their targets. This is one of the fastest growing kinds of cyber-crimes throughout the world, and especially in India. To avoid it, you should download ad-blocker on your computer and make a conscious effort to not click on suspicious-looking ad-links.
You may have gotten emails and messages from your registered bank, asking you to never share information regarding your bank details via text or public email since in all probability, requests for the same are spam. Not only that, high-handed hackers who infiltrate these networks will then manage to receive all your personal information. These include basic information like your name and age, as well as the number of your bank account, PAN card, and more. These hackers can then use this information and pretend to be you to gain access into various branches. There are two ways to avoid this is. Firstly, do not let out your personal bank and other secured details on a public site. Secondly, while logging into your bank, ensure the communication is secure by verifying the address begins with “https” instead of “http” – this means your connection to the site is secure.
Enough movies and books have been based on the dangers of cyberstalking, especially in India. In this age of social media and public sharing, we tend to let out more than we should on accessible platforms, which is a risk to our personal safety. Due to this all-inclusive nature of the internet, cases of individuals using the space for online harassment – be it of a sexual nature or otherwise –have risen fourfold in our country. To protect yourself from this, ensure that most of the virtual interactive platforms that you use on a regular basis have top-notch security settings, and try keeping your lists to the known, as much as possible. However, this is not enough to remove all chances of cyberstalking, considering it could be coming from somebody in your immediate social circles as well.
Most of us have our inboxes cluttered with spam mails. While having an effective anti-virus protection installed in your computer will usually check the viruses that these sometimes carry, these don’t usually permanently damage your computer. Phishing, on the other hand, is a method where cyber criminals will bait you into disclosing the information they want. For instance, you could receive a mail from Tata Motors telling you that you have won something big and to collect your prize, you must fill in your details. Once you do, the cyber-criminals will then receive access to all your personal information and can proceed to use it. To prevent this from happening, do not respond to mails from individuals or organisations which promise outlandish rewards by demanding detailed information.
The internet, for all its virtues, can be a dangerous place. Hence, it is imperative to maintain caution with respect to anything that could jeopardise your security.