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Easy Steps that Protect Against Cyber crime

Mr. Dinesh Jotwani, Advocate, Supreme Court of India

A crime that takes place online is a cyber crime. Those who commit such crimes are called cyber criminals. Cyber criminals often commit cyber crimes by attacking computer networks or devices.  According to the Bangaluru Police between January 2019 and June 2019 there were 20,000 registered FIRs. Of these 20,000 FIRs a staggering 25% were related to cyber-crimes. Online impersonation, banking and finance frauds, ransomware, hacking, pornography, phishing, virus attacks and identify theft are examples of cyber crimes.

According to authorities, not only is the number of cyber-crimes rising alarmingly, those being targeted are often high-profile and well-known public figures and personalities. Consider that recently, Chief Justice of India, the Honorable Shri R. M. Lodha was duped of 1 lakh rupees on May19 2019 by a cyber criminal. The cybercriminal hacked the email ID of the Chief Justice’s former colleague and sent an email to the Chief Justice requesting that 1 lakh be deposited into his account. The Chief Justice thought he was helping a friend and happily transferred the money. The bank account into which the money was transferred was controlled by the fraudster who profited from the Chief Justices mistake. While a fraud of 1 lakh rupees may not seem a very grave issue to many citizens the case highlights a much more important point. When the chief justice of India can be duped so easily, imagine the plight of common citizens who are neither equipped with any techniques to safeguard themselves nor have knowledge of how to protect themselves from falling victim to cyber crime.

Thankfully there are techniques everyone can use to protect themselves from cyber crimes. These are as follow.

Use Strong Passwords

People should use different passwords on different sites. When the same password is used for several sites it makes online accounts vulnerable to hacking.  Passwords should also be complex i.e. they should contain at least a total of 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. To manage such complex passwords, people should use password management apps.

Keep Operating System and Antivirus Updated

The antivirus used must be genuine and be kept updated. In case a computer is continuously being threatened from the same IP address an updated antivirus will give a warning. It is also sophisticated enough to warn users when they are about to accidentally divulge their credit card information to someone online.

Never Download Unknown Applications or Click on Unknown Links Sent by Email

There is a plethora of free software on the internet which contains malicious applications. Once downloaded and installed they can infect a computer and cause serious harm. Hence people should never download an unknown app or click on unknown links sent by strangers. Also, one should never do any e-commerce activity on a site that doesn’t show “https” as part of its URL.

Manage Social Media Wise

Cyber criminals know that it’s easy to find personal information about people on their social media profiles. Hence personal and private information should be kept locked down. For instance, sharing the name of a pet or one’s mother’s maiden name on social media provides cyber criminals with answers to 2 common security questions.

Protect Against Identify Theft

Identity theft occurs when cyber criminals steal personal data to commit fraud or deception. Usually identity theft is done for financial gain. When someone is tricked into giving personal information over the internet it may lead to identify theft. Also, cyber criminals may gain access to a victim email and misuse the information found there. This is why it’s important to guard data. It’s also important to guard data when travelling. For instance, one should be cautious about logging in on public networks and shouldn’t keep Bluetooth mode on unless it is secure.

Those who believe they have been victims of cyber crime should alert the local police immediately. We also help victims of cyber crime using our cyber crime cells in all major cities. Victims of cyber crime need only approach us with their complaint. Cyber crime victims can lodge FIRs online as well. Also, the Government of India recently started a new portal called cyber crime reporting portal (https://cybercrime.gov.in/) that helps children and women who have been victims of cyber crime.