India creates a cyber police force

Hack attacks have been headline news in recent months, with corporate giants including Nintendo, Sony Entertainment and Groupon all attacked.

Back in 2007, the email account of Amita Singh, chairperson of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for study of Law and Governance, was hacked and disturbing emails sent to her relatives and friends seeking money. The victim went to the local police station where she was told a case couldn’t be registered; the policemen said they had never dealt with a case such as this.

After realising that the local police could not help, Singh went public with her problem and, a week later, senior police officers intervened and forwarded her case to a specialised wing of the Delhi Police who deal with cyber crimes.

In May this year, the same thing happened to a senior journalist who wanted to report an incident to the police, but was dissuaded from doing so by her colleagues who assured her that nothing would come of it.

The National Crime Records Bureau registered 420 cases under the IT Act in 2009 compared with 288 in 2008.

Additionally, 276 cyber crimes were registered under the Indian Penal Code in 2009, up from 176 in 2008.

Cyber criminals in India – beware!

In response to the IT Act enacted in 2000, police departments in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow, Gandhinagar, and Gurgaon started to establish cyber wings. In 2001, Karnataka converted its cyber crime cell into a cyber police station. However, the real change came in August 2010, when the police department in Hyderabad set up an exclusive cyber police station to deal with real crimes in the virtual world.

The station is run by an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of police and has two cyber investigation teams and a total of 19 policemen, some of whom staff a cyber crime lab.

The base deals with unauthorised access and hacking, trojan attacks, virus and worm attacks, email-related crimes (email spoofing, email spamming, email bombing, sending threatening emails, defamatory emails, email fraud, phishing), denial of service attacks, distribution of pornography, forgery, IPR (intellectual property rights), violations, cyber terrorism, and banking and credit card related crimes.

Hyderabad – a hub of initiatives to fight cyber crime

The home ministry official announced that the government decided to set up a national centre to train an army of cyber experts within the country. A specialised cyber police station will be established in each state.

The national centre will be based in Hyderabad. “The centre will be equipped with the latest equipment and software to crack such [cyber] crimes and will be an apex body to deal with all cyber-related issues,” the home ministry official said. The project is expected to cost 80 crore in the first phase and 600 people will be trained in the first year.

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, the Indian Police Service training institute, plans to create a further separate centre for cyber crime within the school.

The academy currently has sessions on cyber crime as part of its curriculum and this new centre will be open to officials from the customs and excise tax department and the Enforcement Directorate.

Cyber crimes are growing at a very fast speed in India. Last year, cyber-fraud cases added up to 5,800 crore, while total online transactions were about 13.5 trillion. Currently, the country has just over 40 cyber experts when the immediate need is of 600 people.

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