India records Cyber Crime cases during Corona Period
In recent times, the spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is not the only thing that is creating fear exponentially across the world.
Lucknow: In recent times, the spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is not the only thing that is creating fear exponentially across the world. The period of social distancing and with people confined at home, and with the exponential use of the internet for day to day activities in these times have also allowed a lot of unwanted elements or crime in the society.
Agreeing with the fact that physical crime has decreased with the spread of COVID-19 in recent times, the fact that cyber crimes across the globe and especially India which already was a vulnerable victim of many cyber-crimes has increased cannot be challenged.
According to the Cyber Crime Portal, cyber crime is, “a crime involving computers and networks. This includes a wide range of activities, from illegally downloading music files to stealing money from online bank accounts. Cyber criminals are not always financially motivated. Cyber crimes include non-monetary offences as well.
It can include frauds such as job-related frauds, matrimonial frauds; stealing and misusing sensitive personal information (Aadhaar details, credit/debit card details, bank account credentials, etc.); defamation of an individual on social media; distribution of computer viruses etc. Cybercrimes can also lead to physical or sexual abuse.”
The United Nation Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute has also released a report on the increase of cybercrime in the time of the pandemic. The report goes on to state that, since a huge number of the population are at their respective residences and their time spent on the internet, combined with the sense of anxiety and confinement and also fear has given an ample number of opportunities to the cybercriminals to take advantage of the vulnerability of the people and generate money or create disruption among them.
In a recent incident, cybercriminals planted malware in a map depicting the spread of COVID-19 across the countries. It was also available in Google Play Store as “corona live 1.1”. The people using the application were of the apprehension that they were tracking the number of cases worldwide. Little did they know that the application, being a malicious one was invading their privacy and were getting access to the user’s photographs, videos, location and camera.
The Google Play Store, to stop the spread of such malicious applications has taken down several such applications over the last few months. These applications but have not disappeared from the internet and can be found on the website coronavirusapp.site.
This is one such incident, according to a report by Reuter’s quoting Home Ministry of India, the cyber crimes in India have surged to 86% between March and April. They have been countless incidences reported that Reliance Jio, Netflix offering free and discounted services.
In another unique incident, a person tried selling the tallest statue in the world, the State of Unity for 4$ Billion, stating that the funding would help the Gujrat Government fund its fight against COVID-19.
The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) which was created on 28 March 2020, was also not spared from the reach of the cybercriminals. Within a few hours of the announcement of the PM CARES fund, half a dozen fake accounts, similar to the name of the official account were created. Thousands of Indians and even NRIs who were trying to transfer funds for the betterment of the country and the treatment of the COVID-19 fell prey to the fake accounts that were floating on the social media and the internet.
The Delhi Police, observing the current state of affairs also issued an advisory on cybercrime threat amid coronavirus outbreak. The advisory listed the standard do’s and don’ts so that the people do not fall prey for such cyber crimes.
Not only the individuals, but the government agencies are also at risk for the cyber crimes amid the pandemic. The latest incident coming into the light was a state-sponsored hacking group supported by Pakistan perpetrated a series of ransomware and phishing attacks aimed at stealing highly sensitive defence, security and diplomatic information under the guise of coronavirus health advisories.
India was one of the five most targeted countries in the world by cybercriminals in recent years, reflects the amount of work which needs to be done in strengthening the country’s cyber defences. More than 550 Million Indians have connected on the internet in recent years, which leaves the country vulnerable to a cyber attack.
The question, “How do we keep ourselves safe from the cyber crimes?” comes up.
An individual can keep themselves safe from falling into cybercrime is by:
1. Check the Application details before downloading any application from the Google Play Store. This includes details of the developer, the website, reviews etc.
2. Refrain from downloading applications from third-party websites.
3. Use of anti-virus on mobile phones and desktops.
4. Avoid clicking on malicious links and opening of malicious emails.
5. Read the permissions the application is asking for.
Also, follow the guidelines issued by the Governmental Authorities.
Although the number of cybercrimes has gone up in these recent times, one can make themselves and their near ones aware of the crimes which are circulation every day on their mobile phones and laptops. A little vigilance and due diligence can protect data and privacy.