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BENGALURU: Even as India makes its mark in the digital world, it’s increasingly evident that business competitors commit the highest number of cyber crimes in the absence of strict corporate data protection laws and lack of expertise among investigating agencies.
From just 3% in 2014, the number of business competitors committing cyber crimes has seen a massive jump to 20% in 2015. They committed more cyber crimes than professional hackers, which, experts say , is an indication of the latter avoiding detection through their expertise.
The reasons are varied -from wanting to damage others’ reputation to know trade secrets and glean customer data. While experts point to the growing insecurities in the country -which could lead to major disasters -they added that there’s a lack of awareness and preparedness among agencies.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, neighbours constitute the secondhighest number of cyber criminals in the country , committing 15% of such crimes in 2015, up from 8% last year. In 2015, 8,117 persons were arrest ed for cyber crimes and 1,594 were business competitors, 1,195 neighbours, friends or relatives, and, 1,095 professional hackers.
In 2014, 5,744 persons were arrested and only 149 were business competitors, while 427 were neighbours, friends or relatives.”Corporates have been an integral part of cyber crime growth in India. Cyber security is still not a thrust area in the corporate world, which has a `chalta hain’ (it’s all right) attitude, allowing cyber criminals easy access. The absence of strong protection laws also aids such people,” Pavan Duggal, top cyber law expert and Supreme Court advocate, said.
Mirza Faizan Asad, legal head, Global Cyber Security Response Team (GCSRT), which has helped government agencies in a few cases, said his organization receives at least 10-15 cases of corporate investigations every month. “They come to us because they’re worried about their reputation and believe that the matter going public can affect the confidence of customers,” he said, pointing out that he has dealt with several banks too.
Duggal explains: “In most cases of corporate theft, criminals understand that the weakest links are the people, so they tend to cultivate such links to steal corporate data.”
Asad said: “We just had a case in which a company hired an employee for a higher salary based on the data he had stolen from his previous employer.”
Investigations by GCSRT, he said, found that the employee had transferred it onto another computer whose IP address belonged to his new company. “We found he was hired only based on this stolen data, using which the firm had begun making profits.”
Cyber crime expert Pavan Duggal said cyber crimes involving business rivals will keep increasing as long as India doesn’t put a strong law in place. “The concept of data as property has still not sunk in here. For Indian companies, losing corporate data is not a big thing. Also, the law is very soft. Stealing a competitor’s data is a bailable offence under the IT Act. The first thing a criminal does after obtaining bail is delete incriminating information,” he said.
Mirza Faizan Asad concurred: “With only one professional lab in Hyderabad in the country to deal with such cases, there is a considerable delay in investigations, allowing criminals to walk free.”
With regard to neighbours or relatives, Duggal said: “Most cases are a spill-over from the offline world. They’re either jealous or hate each other and think they’re invisible in the online world and commit such crimes. They’re largely not dangerous crimes.”
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