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Human firewall against cybercrime | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Reports of Assam’s two cybercrime police stations being flooded with complaints of cybercrime paint a grim picture. Cybercrimes are on the rise with the rapid spread of digital technology. The digital infrastructure and tools deployed by the Assam Police are unable to match the pace at which cybercrimes are rising. Building awareness among people is the most effective way to prevent cybercrimes, as resources to augment the digital infrastructure for the Assam Police and other law-enforcing agencies are limited. Nevertheless, increasing the number of cybercrime police stations will help speed up the disposal of pendency cases. The pendency of cases and failure to apprehend criminals embolden criminal gangs to continue targeting digital users. One of the latest financial frauds reported in the state is money deposited for online booking of hotels and other tourists’ accommodation in tourism destinations in the region as well as outside being looted by cybercriminals. The modus operandi is that online scamsters create fake websites of hotels and lodges and announce discounts to lure travellers to pay in advance for booking accommodation, but tourists realise they have lost money only after arriving at the hotel to find that no booking has been made in their name or no money has been received by the hotel concerned. Failure of the hotel industry and law enforcement agencies to prevent such crimes will severely affect the industry, as people will be afraid to book online and drop the destination from their itinerary without confirmation of a booking through a genuine website. Part-time job fraud or Ponzi schemes, illegal lending apps, customer care numbers, Android malware, and account takeover or impersonation were some of the key modus operandi last year. Cybercriminal gangs have been creating fake bank websites to dupe people and transfer money from unsuspecting account holders. Bank authorities keep issuing alerts to subscribers to confirm the authenticity of genuine websites before carrying out online transactions. Prioritising financial inclusion has resulted in exponential growth in the number of bank customers and a surge in digital transactions. It is time to take a pause and undertake a review of the status of digital literacy and the level of awareness among the newly added bank customers against online digital frauds. Most cybercrimes are borderless, with gangs operating from different states or beyond the country’s borders, due to which it is not possible for the Assam Police or any state police to apprehend every such gang. Coordination among different cybercrime cells facilitated by the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C) at the Ministry has helped in the in the busting of many cybercriminal gangs and the apprehension of fraudsters. The National Cybercrime Reporting Portal facilitates online reporting of cybercrimes by victims. The I4C has also prepared and uploaded citizen manuals for reporting cybercrimes. Reading these manuals shows that besides taking care of the information provided on cybercrimes, the complainants need to complete a series of steps to submit their complaint. The process may not look complicated for educated people, but for people who are still dependent on others for online form submission, it looks all Greek to them. This is where the concept of cyber volunteers, as proposed by the I4C, can be useful. The coordination centre has envisaged the Cyber Crime Volunteers Programme to bring together citizens with passion to serve the nation on a single platform and contribute to the fight against cybercrime in the country. It welcomes the role of such volunteers in flagging unlawful content to facilitate law enforcement agencies in identifying, reporting, and removing illegal or unlawful online content and welcomes individuals who are willing to volunteer in any other area to fight cybercrime. States giving wide publicity to the concept can go a long way in increasing the number of cybercrime volunteers who will extend a helping hand to victims of such crimes in lodging the complaint in time. If the complaints are not lodged by the victims for lack of awareness about the cybercrime reporting portal, it only allows the gangs to dupe more people. Official data shows that more than 31 lakh cybercrime complaints have been reported by citizens, and more than 66,000 FIRs have been registered by law-enforcing agencies in the country. Till January, I4C has blocked more than 2,95,000 fake SIM cards, more than 46,000 IMEI, more than 2800 websites, and 595 mobile applications. The figures speak volumes about the progress made in curbing cybercrimes in the country but are also indicative of the surge in such crimes. With the danger of abuse of artificial intelligence by cybercrimes to autonomously target, there is little room for chest thumping over these figures. The challenge for state police and other stakeholders is to equip themselves with AI tools to prevent cybercrime and make the digital world safer. Alerting every digital user against the modus operandi of cybercriminals can help create a powerful human firewall against cybercrime.


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