Written by – Dakshita
For a few decades now, as society’s awareness about the internet has grown, it has transformed from a tool of luxury to one of absolute necessity. Even the ways in which internet can be used, have multiplied profusely. Internet connectivity has become an integral part of our daily lives perhaps, even more so during the corona virus lockdown, with everyone in the world, locked in with their online tools and gadgets. Human social life has come to an abrupt halt, as governments all around the world attempt to curb the spread of the deadly corona virus by imposing lockdowns and prohibiting any kind of physical social gathering.
With people being confined to their houses, the only means of sustaining their social life is through social media and internet plays an important role as the enabler. As the lockdown continues, so does our reliance on the internet for activities like working from home, paying bills, keeping updated with what’s happening in the actual world, checking in on our near ones, or even casually browsing social media. However, as the human society spends more and more time on the internet, in the hope of protecting themselves of the virus outside, it disregards another virus, one which is capable of much more devastation and whose “symptoms” are far more clandestine than the corona virus itself – a virus much more digital in nature – the cyber virus.
While instances of cybercrimes were reported even before the corona virus pandemic, the frequency of these attacks has increased immensely since the lockdown, with the United Nations reporting a 600% increase in cybercrimes and malicious emails, targeting mostly healthcare and medical sectors. Even India fell victim to cybercrime with the Home Ministry reporting an 86% increase in cybercrime during the months of March and April. In the month of June 2020, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) fell prey to a cyber attack on one of its email servers due to which, the server had to be shut down, as precaution is better than cure. Similar attacks were also reported targeting official government websites and banks, fake emails asking to contribute to various false NGOs and offering discounted services for e-commerce websites. In one such incident, even the Statue of Unity was up for sale. All these instances point towards the fact that India’s digital privacy is peaking and as the lockdown continues, the number of cases will only increase.
While cybercrime can range anywhere from hacking emails, to cyber terrorism, the ones that have become increasing prevalent amidst the lockdown can be divided in two categories – Cyber Crime against individuals/Groups and Cyber Crimes against Corporations. Cyber crimes against individuals/groups includes sextortion, child pornography, cyber stalking, phishing etc, whereas cyber crimes against corporations includes issues like denial of service attacks.
Cybercrime under the IT Act are dealt from Section 43 to 47 and section 65 to 77B, which describe the penalties, compensations and power of adjudication for monitoring and tracking cybercrimes.
As the lockdown continues, cybercriminals become bolder and behind a heavily firewall-protected virtual curtain, in the comfort of their homes, and create chaos in the society. It is up to us to maintain the same level of cyber hygiene that we maintain with the corona virus. It includes setting up firewalls, installing reputable anti-viruses and malware protections, regular software updates, stronger passwords and setting up of special cyber courts etc. Even the IT act needs to be updated regularly to hold up to virus and malware in the current day and age.
 Edith M. Lederer, Top UN official warns malicious emails on rise in pandemic, The Associated press, https://apnews.com/c7e7fc7e582351f8f55293d0bf21d7fb.
 Abhirup Roy, Nupur Anand, Scammers try selling world’s tallest statue as pandemic boosts India’s cybercrime, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-india-fraud/scammers-try-selling-worlds-tallest-statue-as-pandemic-boosts-indias-cyber-crime-idUSKBN21P0KH.