New Delhi: Earlier this year, certain media reports created a flutter when they claimed that personal data of over 20,000 people were leaked from a government server and put on sale. The data apparently included details such as name, age, address, mobile number and Covid test result.
Since last year, similar data breaches have been reported from a popular pizza joint, a prominent airline, a digital payment platform and several other institutions. Perhaps, this is one of the major reasons for the Centre’s renewed push on cyber security.
The first two months of 2022 reported more cyber crimes than the entire 2018, according to data by CERT-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team). CERT-In is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats and operates under the information technology ministry.
Cyber crime cases have witnessed a steady spike since 2018. India reported 2,08,456 incidents in 2018; 3,94,499 incidents in 2019; 11,58,208 cases in 2020; 14,02,809 cases in 2021; and 2,12,485 incidents in the first two months of 2022. The above figures show that cyber crimes increased almost seven times in three years between 2018 and 2021, and more sharply during the pandemic.
A total of 17,560; 24,768 and 26,121 Indian websites were hacked in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively, CERT-In data further says.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), however, presents a different set of data. According to NCRB, India reported 50,035 cyber crimes in 2020; 44,546 cases in 2019 and 27,248 cases in 2018.
The year 2020 saw 4,047 cases of online banking fraud; 2,160 cases of ATM fraud; 1,194 credit/debit card fraud and 1,093 OTP frauds. There were also 972 cases of cyber stalking/bullying of women and children and 578 cases of fake news on social media, NCRB data showed.
Committing fraud was found to be the biggest motive and accounted for 30,142 out of the total 50,035 cases (60.02 per cent). This was followed by sexual exploitation (6.6 per cent) and extortion 4.9 per cent.
Cyber crime rate was highest in Karnataka (16.2 per cent), followed by Telangana (13.4 per cent) and Assam (10.1 per cent).
How we can deal with the challenge
Responding to a question in Lok Sabha on March 16, 2022, junior information technology minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar listed out several government initiatives to combat cyber crimes. Chandrasekhar said the Centre has implemented a number of programmes “with the objective of capacity building in the area of information security, training of government personnel and creation of mass information security awareness”.
However, on our end too, we can ensure several steps so as not to fall prey to cyber crimes. Securing our Internet network and financial details with strong passwords, ensuring that our software is up-to-date, ignoring pop-ups, controlling personal and private data, and not responding to suspicious calls, texts and mails are some of the steps that might keep us safe from cyber fraud.
Year Total cyber incidents
2022(till Feb) 2,12,485