The motive behind most cyber-crimes in 2015 was greed or financial gain, followed by online fraud.

Karnataka tops cyber-crime in the south most offenders known to victimsImage for representation
news Cyber-crime Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 20:20

While internet penetration across India may have increased connectivity and cohesion, incidence of cyber-crime has also increased significantly in the country since 2014. According to the 2015 NCRB data, the number of cyber-crime cases reported in the country have grown by 20.5% in one year, with Karnataka topping the list among south Indian states.

Uttar Pradesh tops the number of cyber-crime cases reported while Maharashtra recorded the second highest number of cases. In 2015, Karnataka had the third highest number of cases in India at 12.5%, with a 41.5% increase in the cases reported since the previous year.

Incidentally, IT hub Bengaluru recorded 1041 violations reported under the Information Technology Act in 2015, the highest among Indian cities.

Cyber-crime has been rising in India at an alarming rate for a while now. For instance, cyber-crime shot up by 350% between 2010 to 2013. However, the problem lies in the law enforcement, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka where over 50% of cyber-crime cases were reported.

In Karnataka, for the 1447 cases reported, only 293 arrests were made. The difference is significantly higher compared to the other four southern states.

However, it was Andhra Pradesh that recorded the highest increase of cyber-crime cases reported in the south at an alarming 90.1%. According to a Deccan Chronicle report, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra generate over 70% of India’s IT or IT-related revenue. The staggering number of financial transactions online also serve as a hotbed for cyber criminals to introduce malware.

“The problem with cyber-crime is that it is often not as easy to track as physical crimes. Even educated people end up getting fooled because they think these things cannot happen to them. But cyber-criminals are often smooth talkers, who gain your trust and then play with your psychology,” says a senior official in Bengaluru’s CID department.

Motives

The motive behind most cyber-crimes in 2015 was greed or financial gain, followed by online fraud. Uttar Pradesh registered the most cases (1154) for financial gain, followed by Karnataka at 894.

Karnataka also saw the third highest number of cyber-crimes committed for ‘developing own business or interest’ after Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

A senior CID official from Bengaluru explained that businessmen are often looted by miscreants who change one minuscule detail which is easy to miss. “For instance, a cyber-criminal could add an extra ‘a’ in a person or company’s name that a businessperson is already interacting with. The latter may not notice it and may transfer funds, only to realise the mistake much later. Fraudsters may also create similar looking websites with an easy to miss change in the URL to trick people transacting on it,” he explains.

Note: The graphic contains only select motives. 

Piracy was a popular form of online criminal activity in Andhra Pradesh, with the state topping the list. The statistic comes at a time where filmmakers as well as authorities are coming down heavily on piracy and copyright infringement. Further, the Mumbai High Court recentlyreiterated that internet users accessing, downloading, exhibiting and duplicating pirated content online will now be liable for imprisonment up to three years and a fine of Rs 3 lakh.  

‘Sexual exploitation’ was the most popular motive of cyber-criminals in Tamil Nadu. But what stands out among the southern states is that Telangana, which has significantly lower numbers otherwise, records a very high number in the ‘others’ category (484).

Incidentally, P Sainath had criticized NCRB data last year for pushing numbers into the “others” category to show a drop in farmer suicides. “This (the decrease) happens simply because of the shuffling of the suicide numbers across new or revised categories in the NCRB tables. The “fall” in farmer suicides accompanies a stunning increase in suicides by “Others”,” he wrote in Frontline.

While one cannot say if the same methodology is being applied here, shedding more clarity in the large chunk of numbers in the ‘others’ category is required.

Profiles of cyber criminals

What stands out most here is that in most cases, offenders are closely known to the victims as neighbours or friends and relatives, a trend which continues from 2014. Out of the 8121 persons arrested for online crimes, 1195 arrested or accused belonged to the said group, the highest among other profiles.

The motives of closely known people vary, however, Nandkishore More, who headed the Mumbai cyber wing in Mumbai in 2014 told Indian Express that sometimes it would be merely to cause temporary pain to the victim and other times, would be driven by money-making motives. Another official inferred that the reason neighbours and kin topped the list of perpetrators could also be because of the anonymity they could hide behind on the internet.

Note: The graphic contains only select profiles.

Here too, the NCRB data has the ‘others’ category with 2474 arrested persons falling into it.

Significantly, Andhra Pradesh had the most number of students who were indulging in illegal activity online in 2015 and the second highest number of hackers in the country who were charged under cyber laws. Telangana meanwhile had 21 “cyber-terrorists” in 2015, the most in the country. What this category stands for however, is not clear.

Similarly, the NCRB data also has profiles some cyber-criminals as “sexual freaks”. Who this profile refers to is not clear.

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