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Friday, 27 August 2010

The Menace of Cyber Crime

For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil.  The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, Arjuna, for it comes as an open gate to heaven.

But if You do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your Dharma and your honour
Bhagavad Geetha 2.31

The evolution of new forms of trans-national crimes known as “cyber crimes”.  Cyber crimes have virtually no boundaries and may affect every country in the world.  They may be defined as “any crime with the help of computer and telecommunication technology”.  Cyber crimes are a very serious threat for the times to come and pose one of the most difficult challenges before the law enforcement machinery.  Most cyber

crimes do not involve violence but rather greed, pride or play on some character weakness of the victims.  It is difficult to identify the culprit, as the Net can be a vicious Web of deceit and can be accessed from any part of the globe.  Cyber crimes are considered as “white collar crimes”.  To understand cyber crime it is necessary to recognize it as a constituent aspect of the wider political, social and economic reconstructing currently effecting countries worldwide.  There are three basic categories of criminals who engage in such crimes, ranging from hackers, information merchants and mercenaries, to terrorists, extremists and deviants.


It is the most common type of cyber crime being committed across the world.  Hacking has been defined in section 66 of the Information Technology Act 2000 as follows “whoever with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person destroys or deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means commits hacking”.

Punishment for hacking is imprisonment for 3 years or fine which may extend upto two lakh rupees or both.  A Hacker is a person who breaks in or trespass a computer system.  At most such a crime could be equated with criminal trespass.

Security Related Crimes
With the growth of the Internet, network security has become a major concern.

Network Packet Sniffers

Network computers communicate serially where large information pieces are broken into smaller ones.  These smaller pieces are called Network packets.  A packet sniffer is a software application that uses a network adapter card in a promiscuous mode (a mode in which the network adapter card sends all packets received by the physical network wire to an application for processing) to capture all network packets that and sent! across a local network!  A packet sniffer can provide its users with meaningful and often sensitive information such as user account names and passwords.

IP Spoofing
An IP attack occurs when an attacker outside the network pretends to be a trusted computer either by using an IP address that is within its range or by using an external IP address that you trust and to which you wish to provide access to specified resources on your network.

Password attacks
Password attacks can be implemented using several different methods like the brute force attacks Trojan horse programmes.  Password attacks usually refer to repeated attempts to identify a user password or account.  These repeated attempts are called brute force attacks.

Credit card fraud
With the electronic commerce rapidly becoming a major force in national economies it offers rich pickings for criminals prepared to undertake fraudulent activities.  In USA the ten most frequent fraud reports involve is credit card fraud.  Half a billion dollars is lost to consumers in card fraud alone.  According to section 73 of the IT Act 2000, if a person knows that a digital signature certificate is erroneous in certain particulars and still goes ahead and publishes it, is guilty of having contravened the Act.  He is punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to two years or with fine of a lakh rupee or with both.

Section 74 of the above mentioned act, with imprisonment for a term that may extend to two years or with fine of two lakh rupees or with both.

Virus: Just a virus can infect the human immunity system there exist programs, which can destroy or hamper computer systems.  A computer virus is a programme designed to replicate and spread generally with the victim being oblivious to its existence.  Computer viruses spread by attaching themselves to programmes like word processor or spreadsheets or they attach themselves to the boot sector of a disk.  When an infected file is activated or when the computer is started from an infected disk, the virus itself is also executed.

Pornography on the Net

Internet has provided a medium for the facilitation of crimes like pornography.  Almost 50% of the web sites exhibit pornographic material on the Internet today.  Another great disadvantage with a media like this is its easy availability and accessibility to children who can now log on to pornographic web-sites from their own houses in relative anonymity and the social and legal deterrents associated with physically purchasing an adult magazine from the stand are no longer present.

The Information and Technology Act 2000
“Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to corrupt persons who are likely having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees.

Cryptography, privacy and national security concerns:

The practice of encryption and its study which is known as cryptography provides individuals with means of communication that no third party can understand unless specifically permitted by the communicators themselves.  This practice is a legitimate utilization of the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to have a private conversation without intrusion.

According to section 72 of the above mentioned Act, if a person secured access to any electronic record, book, register correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned and discloses the same to any other person then he shall be punishable with imprisonment upto two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.

Encryption is like sending, a postal mail to another party with a lock code on the envelope which is known only to the sender and the recipient.  Ensuring total privacy even in open networks like the internet.  Encryption involves the use of secret codes and ciphers to communicate information electronically from one person to another, that the only person so communicating, would know to use the codes and ciphers.  It is also defined as the art and the science of keeping messages secure.  Thus encryption is the actual process; cryptography involves a study of the same and is of wider connotation. 

Encryption of the details of our personal transactions would certainly assure us of greater degree of privacy but may also encroach upon the domain of national security concerns and two ends may be said to be in conflict.

The Internet is analogous to the high seas.  No one owns it, yet people of all nationalities use it.  It would be ideal if unification of internet laws could be so achieved so as to minimize the discrepancies in application of such laws.

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