As technology spreads far and wide, everything has now been converted to “Online Business”. From shopping for clothes and groceries, to ordering food, to selling your own products, to providing household services or anything of that sort, we have a much easier way of conducting all our day to day activities and businesses. Everything can be done through the typing of just a few keys and a couple of clicks of the mouse, and boom! Your work is complete!
Ever since the demonetization of India, we have also been encouraged to handle all our finances online, and through plastic money (credit cards). And using E-money most definitely has its benefits. But there is a big disadvantage to depending upon the Internet for so many things, especially for us Indian users. You see, the Indian users are highly vulnerable to cyber attacks.
What does “cyber attacks” mean?
Just as you have thieves who can break into your house when you in the real world, there are certain hackers that can break into your computer system in the virtual world. Not only break in, but they can also attempt to expose crucial information, alter already stored data, disable certain services, steal valuable data, gain unauthorised services, or even destroy the computer of the network of computer systems completely. Information and pictures are often extorted to blackmail the owners. Credit Card details can be found and used anywhere in the world.
All of the above mentioned are all a part of cyber crime. And just as you have physical and violent attacks, that are part of the crime, the act of committing a cyber crime is known as a cyber attack.
Cyber attacks are also professionally termed as Computer Network Attack, which is CNA in short. The hackers, who cause the cyber attacks, use malicious codes to alter the computer system codes, logics or data. This causes consequences of a highly disruptive nature.
It can unfortunately compromise your personal and professional data, as well as your identity to the hacker.
These cyber crimes can lead to several other consequences. It ranges from identity theft, fraud, extortion, to phishing, spamming, spyware, viruses, to breach of access and intellectual property (IP) theft.
The most serious type of cyber crime is when hackers attempt to hack into the government’s computer system. This sort of crime is known as cyber terrorism. It is the least common of all the cyber crimes, but the most serious promise. Government cyber crime includes hacking government websites, military websites or distributing propaganda.
If you have a certain business online against which the attack is carried out, then the consequences look bleak for you. After a cyber attack, chances are that your business will lose its reputation. The customer’s trust level will slowly fall to a lower level.
This could potentially lead to a loss in customers and subsequently, a loss in sales.
To quote the former Chief Executive Officer of CISCO, John Chambers, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.”
The reason behind these cyber crimes is, as with physical robberies and crimes, the earning of money. Attackers usually use the blackmail and extortion method to gain money from their victims, by setting up high ransoms. Fifty three percent (53 %) of all cyber attacks resulted in damages of $500,000 or more. On the other hand, the hacker could have some other ulterior motives too. It could be a personal vendetta. Some hackers look to obliterate systems and data as a form of “hacktivism.”
Why are Indians so vulnerable to cyber crime?
It is much harder for Indian users on the Internet than almost all other countries to deal with cyber attacks. But what makes us so vulnerable?
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba has attempted to answer this question. He addressed a small gathering smart policing organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi. At this meeting, he proclaimed that there has been a phenomenal increase in cyber crime attacks, especially by businesses, corporate, governments, and hostile units, to steal the secrets of the Union government.
According to him, cyber attackers are becoming more and more organised. Our state secrets, our corporate information, our intellectual property and our military superiority are all at risk due to the increasing attacks.
In addition to a more structured and better organised advantage, the hackers have another new benefit that aids them: they are now getting a significant funding. And due to this, the situation is only going to worsen. Rajiv Gauba has already warned us that in the coming days, cyber crime is only going to multiply. Hackers are now intent on attacking government websites. By the year 2021, it has been predicted that cyber crimes will cost the entire world more than six trillion dollars ($6 trillion) a year.
When it comes to the number and severity of cyber crime incidents, India is ranked third in the world. We fall behind only the United States of America and China. While being among the top rankers is usually a good thing, when it comes to being a victim of cyber crime, it is honestly a terrible thing. And the main problem is that India does not have neither the resources nor the wherewithal to deal with this increasingly painstaking security challenge.
Cyber security, according to Mr. Rajiv Gauba, is in fact one of the most important national security threats that countries have to face all over the world. The attacks have a very wide range that is threatened. It can compromise power grids, impact and cripple financial institutions, leakage of sensitive information.
It is extremely important to counter these threats. For the purposing of countering the attacks, we need to increase our speed and agility. We will certainly have to adjust and improve technology so as to stay five steps ahead of the attackers, at any given time. Technology will have to evolve constantly to stay ahead. And therein lies our problem. Gauba himself admits that the government does not have adequate in-house capability, expertise, or any inherent strength.
A recent example of cyber crime is the Jamtara incident in Jharkhand. More than five people were accused and arrested. Gauba claims that at least half of the cyber crime attackers involved can be traced back to Jamtara. He describes them as having become the underbelly of Digital India. They target people all over India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and some other cosmopolitan states.
Jamtara was earlier known for being filled with thugs and robbers. But as India has slowly shifted to being digital India, these people have gradually shifted to be cyber attackers. This shifting was given the term “modus operandi” by Rajiv Gauba.
Another recent example is the one that occurred on 7th of November, when the website of seven Indian missions in Europe and in Africa were hacked. The information was then allegedly made available online.
The former home secretary GK Pillai also had a say in the rising tide of cyber crime, especially in India, and how to control it. According to him, the most important thing to do now is to spruce up our cyber security apparatus and to increase awareness.
To conclude, we Indians are falling behind in our day to day activities. While I cannot possibly suggest we go back to conducting our transactions on a face to face basis, especially when we have the ease of the Internet right at our feet. But not only should we spruce up our internet security systems, but also be certain not to let out any important facts about ourselves on to the Internet. The world is a scary place. Let us do what we can to ensure our own protection.