By: Kalyani Tehri
The faster transition towards digitalization, the more vulnerable everyone is to cyber frauds.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a pragmatic shift in the way the world has started taking recourse to the online modes, wherever possible. The use of computers, smartphones and other smart devices is increasing manifolds which in turn is exposing the netizens to the invisible web of Cyber Crimes. The advantages of this transition to the online world are numerous as it makes all the works hassle-free, especially in the times of this mega pandemic where internet is proving to be a life jacket for the ones who have access to the digital means. There is no dubiety in the fact that a digital divide is emerging, still, this shift is a boon for many. Nowadays digitalization is becoming a new normal and is penetrating in everyone’s life. The dream of making a Digital India is getting an impetus with the facility of online classes, the option of working from home that is being offered by many IT firms or otherwise, hassle-free money transactions, online shopping, the ever-increasing use of social networking sites, and the like easy online options offering opportunities at the doorsteps. Despite being advantageous, this digitalization has certain shortcomings. The most genuine and the most important of all the concerns is that privacy and sensitive details of the users are compromised to a great extent which makes it much easier for cybercriminals to act as parasites. Also, these growing opportunities to get easy access to the user’s data are acting as catalysts for Cyber Fraud’s criminals.
Cyber Frauds or Cyber Crimes can be defined as ‘‘unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or target or both.’’ The hackers vandalize the host’s site or somehow manage to view the confidential information say credit card details, etc., or can keep an eye on all the actions done on the host device by infecting it with a virus, or through other countless ways which may further lead to individual, social and monetary losses. Basic examples of cyber frauds are banking frauds, sale of illegal articles, pornography, online gambling, offences related to intellectual property, e-mail spoofing, forgery, defamation, cyberstalking, unauthorized access to the Computer system, theft of information contained in the electronic form, and alike. These Cyber Crimes can be categorized as follows:
- Cyber Frauds Against Persons:
~ Mental harassment via E-mails- Harassing anyone in any way over digital platforms also comes under the ambit of Cyber Crimes.
~Cyber Stalking- Stalking someone through online modes this includes keeping a check on all the activities of a person by using technology such as the internet, e-mail, phones, text messages, webcam, websites or videos.
~ Disseminating pornographic material: Sharing, forwarding, making or sending any indecent material having the potential to harm the mind of the adolescent or others.
~ Defamation: Lowering down the dignity of the person by hacking his social networking account and sending messages to people, using vulgar language, or otherwise. It also includes dis-reputing someone on online platforms.
~Hacking: This includes unauthorized control/access over the computer system.
~ SMS and E-mail Spoofing: It includes stealing of account passwords and then sending messages or emails to others by misrepresenting oneself.
~Threatening someone through the use of the computer network.
- Cyber Frauds Against Properties
~Transmitting virus to a computer or a file and then circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a network.
~Cyber Trespass: To access someone’s computer without the authorization of the lawful owner
~ Software piracy, infringement of copyright, trademark, patents, designs and service marks, theft of computer source code, etc.
~ Cyber Vandalism: To destroy the data of another person.
- Crime Against Government
These crimes would be inclusive of Cyber Terrorism, Distributing Pirated Software etc.
- Cyber Frauds Against Society at Large
Financial Frauds, Forgery, Online Gambling, Child Pornography, Cyber Trafficking are some of the examples.
In the times when the internet has become inevitable and one important part of everyone’s life; also, when little concrete happens on the ground to put a halter on all the above-mentioned frauds, the dictum Prevention is better than Cure does not miss to hold water. All the internet users should and must adopt some preventive measures in order to not to fall prey to the Cyber Fraudsters. Also, awareness campaigns should not fall silent. Some of the preventive measures are listed below:
- Try to avoid sending or putting photographs on the non-trusted platforms or from where strangers can have access to those photos.
- Avoid disclosing sensitive or confidential information on digital platforms or through social networking sites.
- Always keep the Anti-Virus Software updated on the system.
- One should never send credit card number or details to any site which is not secured, to guard against frauds.
- Parents should keep a watch on the sites being accessed by their children.
- Website owners should keep eyes on irregularities.
- Strict implementation of laws is the immediate need.
- Deterrent punishments should be bought in the statutes dealing with cyber frauds.
- Never tap or open the links sent in unsolicited emails.
- Don’t fall for the freebies offered in forwarded messages. Try to break the chain of hoax messages by not cascading such messages.
- Always try to keep long and difficult passwords, which should include one upper-case, one lower-case, one numeral and one special character. Password should never be easy to crack or be guessed.
- Never store passwords on digital devices.
- One should keep changing the passwords more often.
- Never install untrusted, pirated apps or data or software on any of your device.
CYBER FRAUD COMPLAINT IN INDIA
Everyone should be well versed with the steps to file a cyber fraud complaint as chances to fall in the trap of fraudsters are closer than we think. Any such incidence can happen with anyone at any time. One should be aware of the remedies so that if something ever happens then without any confusion one can file the complaint easily. Following are some simple steps a victim of Cyber Fraud needs to follow in order to get a compliant registered:
- First of all, all that is needed to be done is to get a written complaint registered with any Cyber Crime Cell in the country, which is to be addressed to the Head of the Cyber Crime Cell.
- The person registering the compliant needs to provide the name, contact details, and email address.
- The victim should immediately approach to an advocate.
- In case, one is unable to find a Cyber Crime Cell in the nearby areas then he/she can file a First Information Report in the nearest police station.
- Another way is to approach the Commissioner or the Judicial Magistrate.
- Actions against the offender can also be initiated under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Victims should be aware of their right to get a Zero FIR registered in the any Police Station of our country, the Police Officer can’t deny registering an FIR under any circumstances.
- One should immediately inform the website owners or the help centres of that online platform on which the offence took place.
- One should try to get the matter reported to the online site so that they can take necessary actions under their redressal mechanism.
- An online Cyber compliant can also be registered on the website launched for the same by the Ministry of home affairs.
- Before approaching the authorities one should keep all the proofs ready which are required to prove the Cyber fraud. This can include a screenshot or copy of the email or SMS or anything which is subject of the offence.
It can be concluded that with the increasing use of the internet, the chances of being a victim of online fraud are getting higher. Every user of social networking sites or mobiles phones or browsing sites definitely somewhere or the other had come across a hoax message or a phone call or a file containing some virus. The existing laws of the land need to be made deterrent and the key to rein in these frauds is the effective and seamless implementation of laws otherwise such frauds can affect people deleteriously and in the present state of affairs, online frauds would become inexorable. The awareness messages sent by banks or by the government should never be ignored and all the stipulations provided by them should be adhered to save the hard-earned money. All the laws should be followed in letters and spirit to stave off the possibility of any such fraud. There is a famous quote by Goebbels ‘‘The bigger the lie the easier it will be swallowed’’, so this should not be the case in giving regard to the probability of being a victim of Cyber frauds as it would be a clear lie to state that one could never fall prey to Cyber fraudsters, one should accept the truth that vulnerability levels are really high and one should not assume that nothing would ever happen.