Increasing Occurrence of Cyber Crime in India – Causes, Effects, and Laws

India is home to the second largest population in the world with a steadily increasing number of technological educated people. While the digital medium has paved the way for large-scale progress, it has also made us vulnerable to cyber crime. 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. (Source)

But what is cyber crime? Simply put, cyber crime is a criminal activity carried out using the computer and/or the internet.  From simple trolling or online bullying to stalking, blackmailing and financial frauds, cyber crime knows no limits and is constantly evolving in nature, consistent with latest technologies and platforms. 

In MTV Nishedh Season 2 follows the story of Ishani, Inaaya’s sister who was a victim of cybercrime. After an explicit photo of her is leaked online, Ishani is traumatized to an extent that she feels forced to drop out of college. 

There are broadly three types of cyber crimes:

  1. Cyber crime against persons (harassment in the form of sexual, racial, religious, or other): Cyber crime against persons include cyber-stalking, leaking obscene material, defamation, hacking, e-mail and SMS spoofing, cheating and fraud, child pornography, threatening, etc. 
  2.  Cyber crime against property (malware, hacking, phishing, trespassing): Cyber crime against property includes intellectual property theft, hacking computer systems, cyber vandalism, transmitting virus, etc. 
  3. Cyber crime against the government, i.e. cyber terrorism: Cyber terrorism includes cyber warfare, distributing pirated software, and possession and dissemination of unauthorized information. 

Although there continues to be severe financial ramifications to cyber crimes, the psychological trauma experienced by the victims of cyber attack remains largely unexplored. However, like any real-life fraud, threat, or bullying, cyber crime too has severe consequences. For starters, the victims feel guilty for falling for a scam or trusting the wrong people. They also feel fearful, betrayed and unsafe in cases where harassment is involved. The damage to reputation is another traumatic experience for the victim which affects their self-confidence and self-esteem.

How to register a cyber crime complaint?

Owing to the digital age we live in, it is important to know how to report a cyber crime. The cyber cell departments are accessible in almost every state in India, ready to deal with cyber complaints. You can make a cyber crime complaint anytime to the cyber police or crime investigation department either offline or online. 

According to the IT Act in India, if registering a complaint offline, cyber crime comes under the purview of global jurisdiction, meaning that a cyber crime complaint can be registered with any cyber cell in India, irrespective of the place of origin or the place where the victim is staying at the time of the crime. In case you do not have access to any cyber cell in India, you can also file an FIR (First Information Report) at the local police station. Under Section 154 of CrPC, it is mandatory for every police officer to record the information/complaint of the offense. 

You can also register a cyber crime complaint online using the national cyber crime reporting portal. https://cybercrime.gov.in/ is the national cyber crime reporting portal, an initiative by the Government of India in order to cater to complaints relating to child pornography, sexually explicit content, social media crimes, online financial frauds, ransomware, hacking, cryptocurrency crimes, and online cyber trafficking. 

The world has seen a shocking increase in the number of cyber crimes reported year on year. To combat these crimes, the Information Technology Act, 2000 was enacted with the primary objective to create a safe environment for the use of IT. The Act specifies which crimes are punishable which includes tampering with computer source documents, hacking, identity theft, unauthorized access to protected systems, breach of confidentiality, online abuse, cyber frauds, sending defamatory messages, online threat, online sale of drugs, etc. 

Punishment for most cyber crimes in India involve imprisonment ranging from 3 to 7 years and a fine ranging from 1 to 10 lakhs. 

Although the government is taking many measures to combat cyber crimes, we can be more careful on an individual level to avoid falling prey to these attacks. The basics of preventing cyber crime include securing our internet and financial details with strong passwords, ignoring pop-ups, not responding to suspicious/untrusted calls or emails, not clicking on suspicious links, not disclosing personal information to anyone you do not know or trust, etc. 

There is no bullet-proof way to stop cybercrimes from occurring, but being more cautious while using the internet may not only save you from financial frauds but also from deeply traumatic personal experiences. 

Watch MTV Nishedh Season 2 to know how Ishani falls prey to a cyber crime and the aftermath of it. 

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