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Byte replaces bullet on

Both crime and commerce are increasingly using the Internet to realise their full potential, writes Cooshalle Samuel.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2006 10:19 IST

Both crime and commerce are increasingly using the Internet to realise their full potential. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) believes that the growth in cyber crimes is directly proportional to the increase in the  number of Internet users and their transactions. This holds true especially in case of India.

18.2 million Indians use the Internet today, and an estimated 4.6 million of them use online banking services. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that in 2005, 10 mega cities reported 94 cases under the IT Act and 5 mega cities reported 163 cases under various sections of the IPC. This implies a significant increase of 100 per cent in cases reported under the IT Act in 2004, and 527 per cent increase in cases registered under various sections of the IPC.

The Computer Crime and Abuse Report (India) 2001-2002 by the Asian School of Cyber Laws observes that Indian cyber crime is evolving, broadening in scope and impact and increasing in frequency. It notes that in these two years 6266 incidents of computer crimes (averaging over 8 incidents a day) ranging from obscene, threatening and defamatory emails to computer aided sabotage, and source code thefts were reported. The victims were not just the financial services but diverse sectors such as IT, manufacturing, education, telecom, healthcare and public services. The report also established that the average cost of an Indian data theft attack is Rs. 1.8 lakh, with the cost ranging between Rs 20,000 and Rs. 1.87 crore.

The CBI elaborates that 33 per cent of Indian cyber crime is related to publication and transmission of obscene material, followed by hacking, which accounts for 30 percent of all cyber crime.

The Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In) validates this. It notes that India hosted 48.5 per cent of the 4715 sites defaced in 2005, with VSNL facing the highest defacements (548)

The Internet is also fast emerging as an arena for anti-nationalist propaganda. On earlier occasions websites of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, the Nuclear Science Centre, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Indian Science Congress Association, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and even the External Affairs ministry have been hacked into

Concerned security experts believe that more than two-thirds of these hack attacks on government websites were from ISI backed Pakistani or Islamic groups such as Gforce Pakistan, Harkat-ul-mOs,  WFD, ISOTK, Silver Lords, etc.

Increasing convergence of technologies has made PDAs, mobile phones and ATMs vunerable to Internet viruses and worms. As a result countries are undertaking coordinated national efforts to tackle cyber crime by investing in cutting edge ICT security technologies,updating network infrastructure and hiring computer forensic experts to  secure their e-businesses.

For example, after the British Banking Association estimated that ID theft costs businesses 5 billion pounds a year, most banks abandoned single password-based ID systems in favour of two-factor authentication. In 2004, 79,000 computer network attacks on the US Department of Defense made the government separate its classified networks from the Internet-connected ones. In Philippines, after the “I Love You” virus caused over $8 billion in damages globally, the government took steps to create enforceable laws to punish the student who had created it.

With Indian e-commerce transactions set to cross the Rs 2,300 crore mark (IAMAI estimates), the need to prevent various online crimes has become a necessity for securing the Internet as a legitimate commercial channel.