‘With wide reach of internet, personal data at risk’

  • Vijay Kumar Yadav, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 17, 2015 00:45 IST

Most cases of people losing money to cyber frauds have a common thread – data theft, say police officers and cyber experts. When fraudsters manage to access your personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth and bank details, with the intention of using it to cheat you of money, police refer to it as data theft.

With more people switching to internet, using smartphones and net banking, many local gangs have mushroomed and started the business of stealing and selling data, say police. The investigators are yet to catch most of these miscreants.

“Fraudsters gains victim’s trust very easily if they are already aware of some their personal details. When an ‘executive’ calls people up and verifies their name, date of birth, etc,. they don’t hesitate in parting with other information too,” said Nandkishor More, assistant commissioner of cyber division, Mumbai police.

More said another key area facilitating data theft was foreign companies outsourcing work to Indian call centres. The employees of the firms pass on customers’ data to fraudsters or float their own firms to defraud the company.

Cyber expert Vijay Mukhi believes most of such frauds take place because banks and other companies are not taking cyber security measures to keep their data safe.

“The corporate sectors and banks are not spending enough money on data security. If my personal data is with an insurance company or a bank then the owner of my data is the company or bank. There is no law that mandates police to check how securely that data is stored,” Mukhi said.

He says there are no laws on data theft today. “We need criminal, not civil laws, to prevent such practices. Most of the banks don’t report frauds to the police fearing a loss of reputation,” he said

“Any company that stores people’s data should be held accountable for its theft,” he said.

Cyber police officers said with the wide reach of the internet, users too, should be very careful about where they share their information. “The more you share your private and personal data on the internet, the more vulnerable you are to cyber-crime,” an officer from the BKC Cyber police station said.

Other officers said the gangs engaged in data theft manage to stay off the police’s radar because cyber cells lack lacking sufficient and trained manpower. Once the four proposed cells are functional, the police will be able to tackle this crime better, they said.

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