Technology has changed the way we view the world over the past few decades and with the advent of digital technology, even the most sensitive of financial transactions can now be made online, or on a tap of your smartphone button all in the comfort of your home or office. While this undoubtedly comes with its own advantages, what is also alarming is the rise in data risk, especially on the digital platform. As per data released by the National Crimes Record Bureau or NCRB, cybercrime has seen a whopping 2400 percent growth over the last decade. Yes, the statistics are indeed alarming – if you look at the sheer numbers, while a total of 9622 crimes were committed in the year 2014, the number shot up to 11,592 in 2015. Nearly one-thirds of the cybercrimes accounted for, were purely related to financial gain. Consequently this has led to a fair number of people involved in such crimes to be arrested and tried as well.
Nature of cybercrimes
There is a vast range of crimes that cyber criminals commit – cheating is one of the more common reasons, in addition to of course making an attempt to swindle someone of their funds, by targeting bank and credit card accounts. Of course, cybercrime extends into the personal space as well, with outraging a person’s modesty also falling under the same gamut.
One of the key problems here is that of identity theft, wherein an individual’s identity is stolen by way of compromised financial and personal information (from documentation such as passports, Adhaar cards etc.), by which the person stealing the identity can commit a number of crimes, including applying for a loan, credit card or opening a new bank account fraudulently. This can severely impact the credit health and can lead to CIBIL disputes and the victim looking at ways to enhance credit score.
Reason for increase in cyber crime
While the NCRB report did not capture any reason(s) per se for the increase in cybercrime, it can be attributed to the widespread Internet penetration in India today. From home network setups to even free Wi-Fi available at public places, the reach has expanded multi-fold, and people are vulnerable to cyber-attacks such a phishing, skimming, hacking, digital forgery, and even cyber stalking. While people do use the Internet to access social media accounts, it is largely used for work, communicating with individuals globally (whether on a personal level or professionally), banking and other financial service related transactions and even to reach out to consumers by using the platform as a marketing tool.
Without adequate internet security in place, all of this leaves people vulnerable to attack, and their data can well be compromised.
More on the NCRB report
As per the NCRB report, in the year 2015 Uttar Pradesh registered the highest number of cybercrimes in the country, with as many as 2,208 cases. One of the reasons for this could be the large number of information technology companies situated in Noida, which is unfortunately fast emerging as practically the centre for cybercrime in the country. Overall, the largest number of cases was reported in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Telangana, in addition to of course Uttar Pradesh.
In other states in India such as Assam, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, the largest number of people were arrested on this account, with likely a number of people being responsible for the same case.
Make yourself less vulnerable to attack
Remember that the first step one needs to take is to protect their own identity when online. You can do this by minimising or restricting the information you share online, and monitoring the number of people who can access your personal information on social media. It is also prudent to accept invitations on social media only from those people whom you know and can trust, thereby reducing the risk of unnecessary exposure and data leakage.
Further, ensure that your browser comes with a 128-bit encryption, and each time you visit any website, check that the connection is secure by checking for the ‘https://’ prefix to any URL. When conducting financial transactions online, do make sure that you securely close all windows and browsing sessions when complete, especially if you are using a public computer.
Cybercrime or Identity theft is not a phenomenon new or unique to India, it is something that occurs on a global level and it is estimated that the cost of cybercrime the world over will only increase with each passing year.
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