A glimpse into what happened with Nidhi Razdan. We go on to discuss additional details about the cyber crimes in India and how to stay safe in the online world.
Q. What has happened?
Former TV news anchor and journalist Nidhi Razdan has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police, alleging that she has been a victim of a cybercrime. She has claimed that she had received a job offer from Harvard University for the position of associate professor of journalism. She received the offer via email in December 2019, following which she resigned as executive editor at NDTV in June 2020. Over the course of the next few months, she shared her personal information that was sought but her date of joining kept getting postponed. Later she discovered that she was a victim of cybercrime and decided to file the FIR.
Q. What are the charges?
The journalist has filed a complaint for offences like identity fraud, forgery and impersonation being committed against her.
Cybercrime in India
Cybercrime is a crime committed with the assistance of a computer, phone and a network. From 2018 to 2019, India has seen an increase of 63.5% in cybercrime cases. More than 44,500 cybercrime cases were registered in 2019. 60% of these cases were registered with the motive of phishing, sexual exploitation and defamation.
India sees approx 400 cyberattacks per day.
Some of the most common types of cybercrimes in India include:
- Phishing Scams: The hacker attempts to access the victims’ personal and sensitive information.
- Monetary Fraud: Hackers attempt to access financial information like bank account details, credit/debit card details or try to hack into one’s online payment platforms to obtain money.
- Identity Theft/Impersonation: The criminal pretends to be the victim and seeks information or money on his/her behalf.
- Online Harassment: Consists of online threats, bullying, body shaming via social media, email or any other platform on the internet.
- Cyberstalking: The victim’s online and offline presence is closely monitored by the criminal via the internet.
- Invasion of Privacy: The act of someone attempting to intrude or invade someone’s personal life and disrespecting their right to privacy.
Major factors behind increasing cyber crimes in India
- Revenge: from a business entity, organisation or person with personal or professional incentives.
- Easy money: Phishing scams and hacking are a source to obtain money quickly, easily and mostly anonymously.
- Low probability of getting caught: It is a full-proof method for hackers to get what they want as they have unlimited power because of their skill and because of how hard it is to trace them online.
- Publicity: Hacking systems of governments or private organisations attracts lots of attention and publicity which has led to the recognition of hacker groups like ‘Lulsec’.
- Unemployment: Having no other job in hand, hackers turn to misusing their skillset to engage in such crimes.
- Digital Illiteracy and unawareness: Due to the low literacy rate in India and the lack of awareness about cybercrimes, citizens become easy targets of such crimes.
- Digitisation: In times like these where everything is a click away, more and more people become active users of the internet, which in turn makes them more accessible to cyber criminals.
How can you protect yourself from becoming victims to such cyber crimes?
- Strong passwords: Ensure your password is not easy to guess and try not to give your passwords to anyone at all.
- Software updates: Keep up to date with these as hackers tend to exploit flaws and bugs that exist in software and updates fix them.
- Social media settings: Keep your private information low-key and locked down and be aware of your privacy and security settings. Take such measures against identity thefts.
- Double-check: Do not fall for fake links, websites, calls, QR codes etc and double-check before clicking anywhere.
- Networks: Do not connect your devices to random open or public networks as this makes your device a lot more discoverable and easier to hack.
- In case you’re a victim: You must know how, when and who to report to or file a complaint with. Collect and save as much evidence as possible.
- While Cyber cell officials say they are not equipped to handle the surge of cybercrime cases in the country, they believe more stations with skilled staff need to be set up for encouraging victims to report cases and in turn their active resolution.
- The government has launched Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre)
- After the establishment of eight new Cyber Economic Narcotic (NEC) stations in Bengaluru in December 2019, they were able to solve 400 cybercrime cases in 15 days.
- The government has also established the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) for the protection of critical information infrastructure in the country.
While Police blames the pandemic and the lockdown for the surge in cybercrime cases due to increased internet usage, we all must be aware of each action we take online. Exercising caution while being and spreading awareness is the only thing that can save one from such incidents. Inspector Blajeet Singh from the Noida cyber cell states, “ For every cybercriminal that gets caught, 100 others go free”. Non-cooperation of victims, banks and other platforms; the difficulty of the hacker’s untraceable online presence and the presence of thousands of unreported cases makes this a very sensitive issue in the country. We must be responsible internet users and must report or motivate others to report such crimes. Awareness, accountability and action are the key solutions to this situation.
Researched and written by Amrita Sandhu, Team ulaunch.