Cybercrime cases recorded a fivefold jump in 3 years: Govt
There was an over five-fold jump in the number of cybercrime and fraud incidents recorded by the government between 2018 and 2021, the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) has told a parliamentary panel, people aware of the matter said.
Data available with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In), the government agency for computer security, showed that the number of incidents rose from 208,456 in 2018 to 1,402,809 in 2021. In the first two months of 2022, 212,485 such cases have been recorded.
“India has witnessed a significant increase in cases of cyber fraud and various cyber-related incidents in the last three years. A surge in phishing attacks, financial frauds, mail-spams and ransomware attacks were reported during the Covid-19 lockdown, when people mostly worked from home, as attackers impersonated brands and mislead employees and customers,” the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) told the panel in writing last week, one of the persons cited above said on condition of anonymity.
The trend coincides with what has been recorded globally -- remote working has particularly been exploited by cybercrime suspects as people increasingly interacted with technology, often with limited cyber hygiene.
Taking note of the rise, the panel sought inputs from the ministry for a mechanism to combat threats, from both state and non-state actors. “What happens when a software like Pegasus is deployed on the citizens,” the person said.
Pegasus is a military-grade spyware developed by Israel’s NSO Group, which costs millions of dollars and can hack into the devices of targets.
“The main point remains that there is an urgent need to address these growing (cybersecurity) challenges. When will a nodal body be formulated? who will it be headed by? and will the cabinet secretary take regular assessments? These were among the questions (raised by panel) for which answers were sought,” the person added.
To combat some of these problems, including improving awareness of safe cyber practices, Union home ministry has trained more than 7,500 police officials and the Meity has rolled out additional factor authentication for government employees to protect their official accounts.
The ministry told the panel that the country’s response to such rising cybersecurity incidents has improved, citing an unnamed study. “India was ranked among the top 10 countries out of 193 countries in cyber security posture for the year 2020. India jumped from the 47th position in 2018 to 10th position in 2020,” it told the panel.