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Is Cyber Crime Rising Faster Than The Coronavirus?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are living through a global crisis the likes of which haven't been experienced in a century. The enormous scale of the crisis is profoundly affecting life around the globe, causing a lot of fear, uncertainty and anxiety across the world. The pandemic and the imposed lockdown in order to stem the spread of coronavirus has led more people to be restricted at home with numerous hours to spend online each day and increasing dependence on the Internet to gain services they ordinarily get offline.

The perils of cyber-crime and banking frauds have been there since years, but the spike in the population's percentage connected to the Internet and the time spent online, combined with the sense of confinement have provided more opportunities for cybercriminals to take advantage of the current situation and make more gains or create disruption. During this lockdown, along with the working habits, the modus operandi of the crimes has also changed.It is indispensable to note that some more exposed sections of the population, such as children, need to spend more time online for various purposes such as schooling. This disorderly change in the lifestyle of people and excess use of the Internet has caused a proliferation of e-crimes.

The first case was notified in China [08/12/2019] and the first reported cyber-attack was 14 days later. From this day forth, the time span between events and cyber-attacks reduced dramatically. In January, Google recorded 149k active phishing websites.

In February, that figure almost doubled to 293k. In March, that number had a momentous surge to 522k–a 350% increase since January. In our capital, Delhi, 62 percent of cyber-crime complaints lodged in 2020 were related to financial frauds. Furthermore, in Hyderabad, cyber-crime doubled in 2020 because of the adaptation from work from the office to work from home. Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar have emerged as the prime centres of cyber-crime in India. The report claimed that most of the cyber crimes in these states were administered through spurious websites.

Common cyber-crime techniques, such as phishing, have seen a spike. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of inducing individuals to reveal personal details, such as passwords and credit card information via email or fake websites. An application called ‘Covidlock’ a means of ransomware to prey on the anxious mass, falsifying the very application as the means to track the spread of coronavirus. Hackers are attempting to hack the software of the companies in order to gain access to all their classified data. The misuse of an already created malware ‘AZORult’ has increased for phishing into the companies.

There have been cases of unwanted software trying to infiltrate the company's systems for theft and malicious payloads. Hackers have even tried to muddle through the computers of the Indian State Tax Department to steal privileged information of GST numbers, PAN Cards, cell phone numbers, and e-mails. The recent data breach at Airtel, MobiKwik, Big basket, Juspay, Unacademy, etc are the prominent examples. PM’s COVID fund has also been one of the major targets of the Hackers.

The hackers have made several attempts at banks and Stock Markets leading to the brokerage. The number of fake drugs and medical equipment sold at an exorbitant price to allegedly cure the coronavirus, an increase in the trafficking of counterfeit products sponsored through emails, including hygiene products was recorded on a surging number of websites premeditated by criminals. People blindly believe the fake news spread through social media applications and start reacting accordingly. Besides this, the exploitation of communication platforms to sexually harass people has risen.

Information Technology Act, 2000 is the sole measure available which is the root of cyber laws and provides for different cyber-crimes, their adequate punishment, and remedies. Apart from the Information Technology Act, 2000, the Indian Penal Code, 1986 also provides punishments for cyber-crimes [section 419, section 354].

Those spreading fake news can be booked under section 505 of the Indian Penal Code and section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. National Cyber Security Policy 2013 was formulated to enforce a workforce of 500,000 skilled professionals in the next 5 years, but the aim is still not achieved as it is an extensive act and does not include all the sides which are over elaborated by the cyber-crimes owing to the deficit of skilled IT professionals.

No independent code exists for the cyber crimes against the health care sectors. The need to introduce a security application to prevent the corporate and hospital systems from hacking is apparent. The lockdown has unveiled the weaker side of existing cyber-laws and has displayed the urgent need to form a clear regulatory framework for comprehensive cyber hygiene and proper policy execution to catch the cyber criminals who hide in anonymity.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Kajal Dhaval Shah
 

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