Time to think with your own brain
Any technology is prone to be abused and computer technology is not an exception. Computer, computer technology and internet were developed as result of the necessity that technological advancement demanded. And the cyber space came into existence. Man was able to develop what he wanted with the help of the immense thinking and analyzing power of his brain. And some people among them with a crooked mind, thought of making this technology more profitable. Thus use and abuse of this technology happened and is happening simultaneously. So it’s time to have a revisit in cyber space. Not to feel bad of our inventions, but just to make ourselves alert.
The term Cyber is used to describe a person, an object or an idea as part of the computer and the information age. The word cyber coined by Norbert Weiner, is taken from the Greek word Kybernetes which stands for ’steers-man’ or ’governor’. The virtual world of internet is termed as Cyber space. The laws governing cyber space are known as cyber laws and all the users of cyber space come under the range of these laws. We can describe cyber law as a branch of law which deals with legal problems related to the use of networked information and technology. Thus cyber law becomes the law governing computers and internet. For millions of people worldwide, the internet has become an important part of their daily life from e-mail to online shopping. The widespread use of the technologies, which give more accessible connections as fast as possible, such as mobile phones, person to person portable devices etc. have stimulated new e-commerce opportunities. Online shopping and online banking are gaining importance day by day, and it is expected that the internet will be as common as gas or electricity in the near future.
Need For Cyber Law
The world is becoming more and more digitally sophisticated in today’s highly technical environment. As a consequence, the crimes and criminals are also digitally or technically sophisticated. The internet was developed as a research and information sharing instrument. But with time it became more transactional with e-commerce, e-governance, ep-business etc.. Cyber law is important because it takes into consideration almost all aspects of transactions based on internet and cyber space and it deals with all legal issues related to cyber crime. Today, everyone in this world is directly or indirectly connected to the internet. As a result, the need for cyber laws and their execution has also acquired great tempo. Cyber laws are becoming as important as ordinary laws, and almost everyone is affected by cyber law. Almost all financial transactions are done through internet. Almost all companies depend upon their computer networks and keep their data in digital form. Consumers are increasingly using credit cards for shopping. Most people rely upon e-mails and mobile phones for communication. Cyber laws are important because cyber crimes such as online banking fraud, e-mail hijacking, phishing attacks, virus attacks, tax evasion, hacking, pornography, denial of service attacks etc. are becoming common. Even in cases of crimes which do not belong to the category of cyber crimes, main evidence is found from computers or mobile phones.
Cyber Crimes and Cyber Criminals
“The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun. Tomorrow’s terrorists may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb” -National Research Council, U.S.A. “Computers At Risk”
Any criminal activity where a computer, a computer network or any other means of communication is the source, tool, target or place of the crime is generally referred to as a cyber crime. So any crime related to computer and computer technology is a cyber crime, be it hacking, identity theft, cyber financial fraud, threat through e-mail, violation of company policies, misuse of telephone technology, using computers for anti-national activities and personal gain, software piracy or supply of law quality IT products, spreading of virus, launching of denial of service attacks on computer network servers etc.. Criminal activities such as theft or trade of intellectual property, exploitation or victimization through pornography, unauthorized disclosure of internal and confidential information etc. when realized through cyber space, they are also considered as cyber crimes. In the narrow sense, cyber crime is a computer crime. That is, any illegal activity realized through electronic operations that aims at the security of computer systems and the data processed by them. In a broader sense, cyber crime is not just a computer crime; but it is a computer related crime. That is any illegal activity realized through or in relation to a computer system or network, including illegal possession and offering or distributing information by means of a computer system or network. The discovery of computers has opened new horizons for the fraudsters. It is an evil having its origin in the growing dependence on computers in modern life. Fraud is the purposeful deception of person or group for stealing property or money. Internet fraud offering non-existent goods and services to consumers or communicating false information to consumers using websites, e-mails etc.. Then the customers pay for the fraudulent goods over the internet with their credit cards. Cyber fraud has the power to prevent the economic and social development of a nation. It can also destroy our good and morally sound culture. Cyber crimes can be viewed in terms of their intentionality, as falling into two types; one, for intellectual satisfaction of the criminal and two, for destructive purposes. Both these are crimes which deserve punishment. Hacking is a crime of the first kind while stealing data, spreading virus, invading computer networks etc. are destructive in nature. But destructive cyber crimes can also provide intellectual satisfaction. In terms of technology involved in the crime, cyber crimes are classified into four categories:
1. Computer network related crimes
2. Cyber financial frauds
3. Intellectual property related crimes
4. Using computers to perform non-cyber crimes
Cyber crimes such as hacking, threat through e-mail, spreading of virus, launching of denial of service attacks on computer networks, misuse of mobile phone technology etc. are considered as computer network related crimes. Manipulating the electronic data of financial institutions like banks, insurance offices and other finance companies are cyber financial frauds. Intellectual property related crimes include software piracy, digital data piracy, plagiarism etc.. The fourth category involves, using computers for creating and distributing pornographic material, using computers for anti-national activities etc.
Cyber Law – Opportunities
The trends in cyber crimes have led to the rise of a new field of computer technology, called computer forensics or cyber forensics. Cyber forensics is the art and science of finding the hidden, encrypted, erased, pirated or destroyed digital information, contributing to the enforcement of law and justice. The cyber forensic experts are specialized computer engineers with experience in software engineering, database techniques and/or computer network engineering, with talent for investigation and for the legal aspects of this misuse of technology. Cyber forensic experts help in identifying the crime, collecting, protecting and analyzing the evidence and convincing the judiciary. They analyze types of data from various computers and related devices and interpret them to serve as legal evidence. The role of such experts is in documenting the digital evidence in a judicially-friendly manner.
Cyber Law – Threats
The investigation of all types of cyber crimes is done with the help of cyber forensic experts. Collecting information is more easier than collecting data, particularly if the criminals intentionally use hiding techniques to store data in order to block their traceability. In cyber space, data confidentiality is achieved mainly through cryptography. In cryptography, the data are encrypted and kept hidden from anyone for whom it is not intended. The intended user of the data can decrypt it back into an easily understood form using a key. Cryptographic algorithms help to protect the confidentiality of data during their transmission through cyber space. The new cryptographic algorithms are so perfectly designed that it is very difficult, but not impossible, to break into. Though cryptography is intended to preserve the data confidentiality and prevent intrusion, they cannot still hinder criminals from its misuse. The intended criminals can use the same technology to confidentially store and transmit their criminal data over the internet. Skilled cyber forensic experts, who can break into such information, help national security agencies and law enforcement agencies to oppose such crimes. When ordinary cyber criminals hide confidential data in a normal data file or a renamed data file, hi-tech cyber criminals keep their confidential data in swap files (virtual memory). Cyber criminals escape cleverly misguide the cyber forensic experts by keeping their confidential data in a normal data file and renaming these files as a normal harmless file type. Hi-tech criminals, on the other hand create a swap file in the hard disk by the operating system to simulate extra RAM. An ordinary user who may not be an expert in opening and verifying the data in the swap file in his computer. Thus the criminals are able to store secret data without the knowledge of the user of the computer. Any data stored in RAM will be lost when the computer is shut down. But the data stored in a swap file does not have this problem, and this makes the job of the criminal easier. Programs for removing swap files are available today. But such removal actually destroys the electronic evidence and obstruct the police from identifying the crime. Most of the cyber crimes are misuse of computer and computer network technology. But cyber financial fraud affects the economic stability of financial institutions and thereby the whole nation too. Cyber criminals intrude into the databases of banks, other financial institutions and commercial or government organizations to manipulate the data for their personal or other gains. With the help of software experts, they even illegally gets the software used in these organizations if required. To investigate these kinds of crimes, we require cyber forensic experts, well experienced in financial software engineering, database techniques and accounting principles. They have to do an extensive research with the mass storage of data and come out with evidence that will be acceptable to the judiciary.
The Indian Cyber Space
Almost all countries have formulated cyber laws in order to bring cyber criminals into the court of law. In India, cyber laws are included in IT Act-2000 which came into effect on 17 October, 2000. IT Act provides legal recognition to e-commerce and facilitates filing of electronic records with the government. The IT Act regulates the use of computers and computer networks. This law has touched various aspects related to electronic authentication, digital signatures, cyber crimes and liability of network service providers. In India, most of the cyber crimes are booked under various sections of IT Act-2000 and the Indian Penal Code. Basically IT Act-2000 authenticates only e-commerce and digital signature. The IT Act-2000 was amended in 2008 to include more sections to cover other cyber crimes, such as offensive messages, theft cases involving stolen computer, laptop, mobile phone etc., identity theft, impersonation, cyber terrorism, child pornography and so on. In spite of the new sections introduced, there are cyber crimes that cannot be booked under any section of Indian IT Act. For instance, cases of software piracy are still booked under various sections of Indian Copyright Act 1957. In India, cyber crimes are not reported much. But this does not mean that our society is free from the threat of cyber security. The actual situation is quite different. For many reasons, the people in our country do not report cyber crimes. Many people do not want to face the harassment by the police.
Some people fear of the bad publicity in the media which could hurt their fame and status in the society. Lack of awareness of the people about cyber crimes and their registration and handling by the police makes it difficult to convince the police to register cyber crimes. According to a survey report, out of every 500 crime incidents, only 50 are reported and out of that, only 1 is actually registered. Cyber crime cells were established in different parts of the country expecting that it would push up cyber crime reporting and prosecution. But the execution of these cells did not come up as expected. Netizens should be aware that cyber crimes are not vanishing, and rather the cyber space is becoming, day by day, a more dangerous place to be in, where the cyber criminals enjoy and take advantage of the anonymity that internet provides.
“Cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. It is the great irony of our information age -the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. And this paradox -seen and unseen- is something that we experience every day,” said President Barack Obama in May 2009. He also added;”America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security.”
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/cybersecurity) “Is cyber security enough to handle emerging security threats,” is an important question that is asked over again and again especially when the incidents of security are increasing rampantly. In the era of cyber world, as the usage of computers became more popular, technology also grew faster and the term cyber became more popular. The advancement in Information Technology resulted in the evolution of the cyber space wherein internet provides information and data storage with equal opportunities to all the people who acces the internet. This resulted in the increase in the number of netizens and as a consequence, cyber space was misused at the domestic as well as the international level. The threat is not from the intelligence of criminals, but from our ignorance to fight against cyber crimes and cyber criminals. The first step of defense to prevent internet users from becoming online victims is good education and awareness. The role of cyber security in dealing with the emerging security threats has been continuously questioned because of the increasing number of the uncontrolled security incidents related to mobile phones and its applications. The numbers of users of mobile phones have increased substantially in the last few years exposing these devices to cyber threats. Cyber criminals aim such devices to fulfill their evil motives. Besides these the increasing number of applications available for free or at a small usage or subscription fee has further contributed to the growth of cyber attacks. We need to conclude here that cyber security is still far from achieving its actual objective and needs to do more to keep cyberspace safe from the security risks posed by emerging threats. “Cyberspace touches nearly every part of our daily lives. It’s the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and the massive grids that power our nation. It is the intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history. We must secure our cyberspace to ensure that we can continue to grow the nation’s economy and protect our way of life.”