Cyber space is a very huge platform, used by millions of people for different reasons. For some people it is just a way to pass time, whereas for some, it is a means to educate themselves, enter into transactions or even earn a living. The use of computers and internet is rapidly increasing in every corner of the world. In spite of the fact that the cyber space is a very important factor in a significant amount of people in the world today, it’s negative impacts such as online addiction, cyber disorders and cybercrimes cannot be neglected.

The term ‘Cybercrime’ has not been defined in any statute or act passed by the Parliament of India. A cybercrime can be defined as an offence that is committed against a person or people with a criminal motive and to intentionally harm the victim, directly or indirectly, in any way where the tool or target involves a computer and/or the internet. There are several types of cybercrimes are:

  • hacking, 
  • money laundering,
  • pornography,
  • piracy(theft),
  • cyber stalking, 
  • identity theft, 
  • malicious software (virus), 
  • child soliciting and abuse, 
  • computer vandalism, etc. 

These crimes not only affect people but also affect property(money) and the government. Earlier cybercrimes were committed by people just to satisfy their ego and self-esteem. Presently, it has been observed that there are highly complex cybercriminal networks coming together individually at a global level in real time to commit crimes. They want to use their knowledge to gain profits promptly. 

The motivators of cybercrimes can be economical, personal or ideological. The targets are usually rich people or wealthy organisations, like banks, casinos and financial firms, or women. According to ‘The Times of India’, about 40% of the victims of cyber crime in Delhi are women. Computers are a vulnerable as a tool of cyber crime for the following reasons:

  • Easy to access: The problem behind safeguarding a computer system from unauthorized access is that there are many possibilities of breach due to the complex technology. Hackers can decode or steal access codes, retina images, advanced voice recorders etc. that can get them past biometric security easily and bypass firewalls can be utilized to get past many security systems. 
  • Data is stored in small spaces: The computer has the unique characteristic of storing data in a very small space. This makes it a lot easier for the people to steal data from any other storage and use it for their own profit.
  • Complex: The computers run on operating systems and these operating systems are programmed with millions of codes. The human mind is imperfect and not everyone knows how to run them perfectly, so they can make mistakes at any stage. The cybercriminals take advantage of these gaps and get into victims’ personal information.
  • Negligence: Negligence is one of the unavoidable characteristics of human conduct. So, there may be a possibility that while protecting the computer system we may make any negligence which provides a cyber-criminal the access and control over the computer system.
  • Loss of evidence: The data related to the crime can be easily destroyed. So, Loss of evidence has become a very common & obvious problem which paralyzes the system behind the investigation of cyber-crime. 

Cyber Crime in the Act is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. The Information Technology Act has not dealt with cyber nuisance, cyber stalking, and cyber defamation and so on. Cases of spam, hacking, stalking and e-mail fraud are rampant although cybercrimes cells have been set-up in major cities. The problem is that most cases remain unreported due to lack of awareness. The capacity of human mind is unfathomable. It is not possible to eliminate cybercrime from the cyber space. However, it is quite possible to check them. Here are a few methods to tackle cybercrimes:

  • Use uncommon and strong passwords: Different password and username combinations must be maintained for each account and resist the temptation to write them down. Weak passwords can be easily cracked using certain attacking methods. Avoid using the following:
    • Using keyboard patterns for passwords. e.g. – qwerty
    • Using easy combinations. e.g. – Raju1990, Feb1990
    • Using Default passwords. e.g. – Welcome123, Ravi123
    • Keeping password same as the username. e.g. – Raju/Raju
  • Be cautious on social media: Be sure to keep your social networking profiles (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) set to private. Be sure to check your security settings. Be careful of what information you post online. Once it is on the Internet it is there forever.
  • Secure your Mobile Devices: Many people are not aware that their mobile devices are also vulnerable to malicious software, such as computer viruses and hackers. Be sure to download applications only from trusted sources. It is also crucial that you keep your operating system up-to-date.
  • Protect your data: Protect your data by using encryption for your most sensitive files such as financial records and tax returns.
  • Protect your identity online: When it comes to protecting your identity online it is better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. It is critical that you be cautious when giving out personal ID such as your name, address, phone number and/or financial information on the Internet. Be certain to make sure websites are secure when making online purchases, etc.
  • Keep your computer current with the latest patches and updates: One of the best ways to keep attackers away from your computer is to apply patches and other software fixes when they become available. By regularly updating your computer, you block attackers from being able to take advantage of software flaws (vulnerabilities) that they could otherwise use to break into your system.
  • Protect your computer with security software: Several types of security software are necessary for basic online security. Security software essentials include firewall and antivirus programs. A firewall is usually your computer’s first line of defence. It controls who and what can communicate with your computer online. You could think of a firewall as a sort of “policeman” that watches all the data attempting to flow in and out of your computer on the Internet, allowing communications that it knows are safe and blocking “bad” traffic such as attacks from ever reaching your computer.

Like the physical world, the world of cybercrime consists of people, various financial, professional, business and educational transactions, e-commerce, money and finally crime. Analysis of cybercrime reflects crime in the physical world. But it is more dangerous and sometimes more difficult to trace compared to crime in the physical world. Identity theft, fraud, pornography, impersonation, extortion, prostitution, call girl racket, child abuse, espionage and even old-fashioned plain stealing, all these and many more crimes happen in the cyber world. Of course, cybercrime introduces some new and electronically determined elements to crime. In-spite of all technological progresses and steps taken to prevent cybercrime it would continue to exist as long as human society exists. The users of cyberspace have to be careful and protect themselves instead of hoping that these crimes will reduce on their own.