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In the year gone by, the country’s financial capital Mumbai alone reported a 248 percent increase in cyber-crime, while other cities and even rural districts throughout the country reported an alarming increase in cyber-crime. So much so that the Indian Government launched a `state of art’ Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre earlier this year along with a National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, cyber-crime is: Criminal activities carried out by means of computers or the Internet”. 

Cyber Crime can be defined as an unlawful activity in which a computer is used either as a means or an end or both. Some common Cyber Crimes include phishing, card frauds, bank robbery through digital means, illegal downloading, child pornography, kidnapping children (usually through some chatroom or social media), online scams, cyber terrorism, creation or distribution of viruses and spams. 

Cyber Crime is a contemporary problem which has grown in recent years with advances in technology. It can even be said to be a by-product of modern technology. 

People with criminal minds have always attempted to find new ways of committing crimes or gaining unlawful benefits from others. However, the scope has increased when technological knowledge is combined with criminal intentions. With cyber space added to humankind’s domain, it has now become easier than ever to access any bank account and hack any personal data in general. 

National Crime Records Bureau published a report (NCRB 2011) which stated that the incidence of cyber-crimes under the Information Technology Act has increased by 85.4% in the year 2011 if compared to 2010 in India, while the increase in incidence of the crime under IPC increased  by just 18.5% during the same period. It just goes to show that old fashioned crime is going out of fashion and cyber-crime has become the chosen path for new criminals. 

Hacking with computer systems, obscene publications and credit card frauds were the main cases registered under the IT Act for cyber-crimes. Most of the offenders arrested for cyber- crimes were in the age group 18-30 years. 

Bangalore which is known as the technological capital of India registered the largest number of cyber-crime cases in 2018. Bangalore had some 5,035 FIRs registered at the lone cybercrime police station in the city.  

Cyber Crime can be categorized into two types: Crime in which the computer is the target. Examples include hacking, virus and/or spam attacks and crime in which the computer is the means. Cyber Terrorism, Credit card frauds, Child Pornography, Online threats, are examples of the second kind of cyber-crime. 

Instances of Cyber Crime 

Cybercrime is quickly becoming the new normal and is greatly affecting the financial industry of today. Crimes are being committed against leading corporations with highly rated security protocols in place. Cybercrime can have crippling impact on economies. 

According to McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, when it comes to cyber-crime, Europe’s GDP shed some 0.84% due to the impact of cyber-crime. 

Estonia came under a cyberattack some 12 years back. The country suddenly found its vital infrastructure crashing. No bombs were used, nor any guns fired, yet from newspaper websites to banks to power system, everything collapsed in the eastern European nation, causing pandemonium for several days. 

Similarly, in 2015, hackers gained control of Ukraine’s power grid, plunging thousands of homes and establishments into darkness for hours. There was speculation that the attack was a warning against nationalisation of power plants owned by a Russian tycoon, though this was never confirmed. 

In 2010, India was the third worst-affected country by computer worm Stuxnet, an extremely sophisticated computer worm that among other things targets centrifuges used to produce the enriched uranium that powers nuclear weapons and reactors. According to reports,15 of the 10,000 infected Indian computers were located at critical infrastructure facilities. These included the electricity boards of Gujarat and Haryana and also an offshore oil rig of state-owned petroleum explorer ONGC. 

In 2014 retailer Home Depot’s system was breached, which meant data of over 50 million credit cards was exposed. In this instance the thieves used a vendor’s user name and password to get onto the company’s computer network and then installed malware on its sale systems, which meant that consumers who were using credit cards to shop from the chain were handing the information on their credit cards to data thieves. 

In 2020 cyber criminals are likely to be far more powerful and secretive. However, the irony is that while cyber criminals have managed to outpace technology, cyber security is still not strong enough to resist cyberattacks. A cyberattack on critical infrastructure could be the preferred mode of attack in future wars, where an economy could be laid waste without bloodshed. 

CYBER CRIME OFFENCES UNDER LEGAL PROVISIONS 

With cybercrime evolving into intricate new crimes with which older provisions of law were unable to cope up with, Governments across the globe including in India started looking at specific laws to target the new growing wave of tech-based crimes.  

One such major step was the implementation of the Information and Technology Act, 2000. This act provides a legal framework for electronic governance by using digital signatures and electronically maintained records. This also helps in a major way by defining cyber-crime in its proper sense and lays down legal provisions and penalties for it. Under the provisions of the Information and Technology Act, 2000, a Cyber Appellate Tribunal was formed wherein cases related to Cyber Crime could be admitted and tried as the numbers of cases in this particular crime were increasing at an exponential rate. 

 This Act, in way of amendments, made the provisions of 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 more compliant with the latest and emerging technologies. 

Importance 

Legal provisions pertaining to cyber-crime are a hugely vital aspect that comes into play against cyber-crime. These legal provisions are set up to safeguard the public and the common man from any fraudulent or dangerous transactions on the cyberspace. These provisions play a major role in protecting the rights and interests of the people in the cyber space just like how IPC or any such law protects the rights and interests of the people in day to day life. Cyber law is a vastly technical field which helps in tackling new age cyberspace crimes. 

Types of Cyber Crimes: 

Identity theft: When someone’s personal information is stolen to use their financial resources or someone’s credit card is used to take a loan by someone else it’s called identity theft. 

Cyberterrorism: When a threat of extortion or any of harm is being targeted towards a person, organization, or state, it is known as the crime of Cyber Terrorism. Usually, it includes a planned attack on the Government and its main frame computer system. 

Cyberbullying: When a minor harasses, scares or intimidates someone with the use of the internet or while using it, it is usually done through chat rooms or instant messaging or any other social network or social media then the person is said to be committing the crime of Cyberbullying. When the same crime is done by an adult it is known as Cyberstalking. 

Hacking: The most common cybercrime is Hacking. In this crime, the person accesses other people’s computers and passwords to use it for their own means usually for wrongful gain. 

Future of Cyber Laws in India 

The future of cyber laws in India seem to be going towards the brighter side in respect to the upcoming and evolving ideologies regarding the importance of cyber laws to curb and limit the imminent threat of cyber-crimes. Cyber Security is now being recognised as important not only on a private and personal level but also at the National Security as well. Due to rapid growth in cyber infrastructure and its uses, lawmakers are compelled to make more stringent legislations in favour of safeguarding the security of any critical data. In a nutshell, the huge risk emanating from cyber-crimes has been duly recognised by the competent authorities to take adequate steps towards protection from such trenchant dangers   

Advantages of Laws on Cyber Crim

The Information and Technology Act contains such provisions which attempt to over-ride obsolete laws and provides a fresh outlook to deal with the upcoming surge of cyber-crime. This Act has introduced a crucial legal framework so that data and information is not devoid of legal effect, validity and there is proper legal enforceability of such provisions so that the relief is undisputed. 

This Act also seeks to authorize the government to file, store and create official documents in a digital format, so that it is convenient to access and helps in more speedy work. 

In conclusion, it is essential to mention that protection against cyber-crime has a come a long way. There has been huge growth and evolution in the cyber sector as it is termed to be the future and as a result there has been increase in exploitation of such cyber resources to fulfil ulterior motives and purposes that are not justified by law. Thus, in such a time there is a need for stringent laws to curb the wrongdoer in cyber space. These laws and provisions help safeguard interests of the public and bring regulation to a growing sector. 

Bibliography: 

https://merchantriskcouncil.org/news-and-press/mrc-blog/2018/financial-impacts-of-cybercrime

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/critical-infrastructure-on-target-a-cyber-attack-that-could-be-worse-than-war/articleshow/61508816.cms

https://www.csoonline.com/article/3218104/what-is-stuxnet-who-created-it-and-how-does-it-work.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/cybercrime/Identity-theft-and-invasion-of-privacy

Ishan Roy Chowdhury & Satwik Sengupta are students of Amity Law Centre, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

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