Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Cybercrime spiked after demonetisation, say experts

Past eight months the 'most fertile months' in terms of growth of cybercrime, says Pavan Duggal, president at Cyberlaws.Net and an advocate in the Supreme Court

Cybercrime has increased drastically in the country after demonetisation and has been under-reported, cyber experts said at a fintech conference organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry on Friday.

“I have begun to see a landscape which is believe me, very scary. The last eight months have been the most fertile months in the history of independent India for the growth of cybercrime," Pavan Duggal, president at Cyberlaws.Net and an advocate in the Supreme Court, said at a panel discussion on ‘Risk and Regulation in FinTech World’. “After demonetisation, cyber crime has grown manifoldly and we have not been able to identify the extent to which it has grown."

The 8 November demonetisation of high-value banknotes led to a proliferation of cashless transactions.

From global ransomware attacks that hit hundreds of systems to phishing and scanning rackets, at least one cybercrime was reported every 10 minutes in India in the first six months of 2017. That’s higher than a crime every 12 minutes in 2016, said a report in The Economic Times last week.

According to Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), 27,482 cases of cybercrime were reported from January to June. Analysis of data from 2013-2016 shows that network scanning and probing, which is seen as the first step to detect vulnerabilities in systems so that sensitive data can be stolen, made up 6.7% of all cases while virus or malware attack accounted for 17.2%, it added in a report.

“As a country we are clueless as to how to address cyber security barring coming up with National Cybersecurity Policy of 2013 which has primarily remained a paper document. Till this point in time, there is no dedicated law for cyber security," said Duggal.

There is a need for a legal framework in the context of emerging technologies like blockchain, he added.

To regulate mobile applications accessing private data, the experts suggested putting in place a comprehensive cyber security law.

Another member of the panel, Amlok Singh, director of information technology security at Infologic Solutions, said the payments and fintech space will be most vulnerable to cybercrime.

“Security shouldn’t be an afterthought but an important aspect during the conception stage itself...external experts should scrutinize the product to detect flaws which should be immediately mitigated," Singh added.

Several industry experts participated in the day-long conference to discuss the scope of new technologies like Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Aadhaar enabled payments, blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotics.

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