Increasing Cyber Crimes in India Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown

The spread of the novel Coronavirus Pandemic has affected most of the countries in the world with India being the second most affected country till now. To avoid the risk of the spread of coronavirus, the government-initiated lockdown from March 25, 2020, for 21 days which was extended further till May 3 and again extended to May 15, 2020. But now the virus has claimed thousands of people to death and infected lakhs of people in the country.

Cyber Crime

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy change in India’s economy. An alarming increase in unemployment is pushing many people particularly the youth to involve in criminal activities to make their ends meet. Studies reveal that there is a 2-3 times increase in the Cyber Crimes in India since the lockdown. According to an analysis of IT security solutions provider K7 Computing, Kerala has recorded the highest number of cybercrime cases during the lockdown.

So, this article is for those who have or haven’t been the victim of one of the cybercrimes in India as you might gain some information about how these cyberattacks have affected the victims in one or the other way. This article is also useful for those who are unaware of the cybercrimes which are at the “tip of the iceberg” so that you become conscious of these unlawful acts and criminal offenses.  

Did You Know: Approximately one cyber-attack takes place every 39 seconds.

The two main factors that have led to an increase in the Cyber Crime in India during lockdown are:

  • Every organization has been made to work from home due to lockdown which has increased the risk of violation of data from the laptop or home PCs as they all may not have the same level of security setup as in their office.
  • Due to the fear among the general public and their search for information related to this pandemic there has been an invasion of fake apps, websites, and domain names. 

There are many ways in which cybercriminals are taking advantage of the pandemic situation thereby leading to an eruption of cybercrime cases in India. Below are some instances of Cyber Crime during Pandemic.

Instances of Cyber Crime During the Pandemic

Unauthorized Access and Hacking

Types of Hackers

This is the most popular form of cybercrime in which the hackers are using coronavirus malware to steal data. This happens when the computer is accessed without the permission of the person who’s in charge of it. Hacking often refers to breaching into a computer system and network.

Cyber Stalking

This crime is done by sending threatening messages and e-mails by repeated use of electronic communication to harass or frighten the person or group of an organization. It can also involve false accusations, malicious mischief, hijacking, etc.

Phishing 

Because of this lockdown, phishing attacks have been increased. During this time users are mainly engaged in their devices and thus it’s easy for them to fall in such traps. It refers to an act of setting up fake and fraud websites where the victim is directed generally through an email and once the victim accesses the website, they become susceptible, and their personal information such as Bank account & credit card details, passwords are extracted. This type of attack was noticed majorly in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

PM CARES Fund Fraud

SBI Alert

PM CARES’ Coronavirus fund established by the Prime Minister’s office is the chief among the frauds. Senior officials from India’s Home Ministry said that more than 8,000 complaints had been received from Indians who were cheated by giving money to fake versions of the government’s chief fund. Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) along with banks, ministries, and police departments issued warnings to control these fraudulent criminal activities.

Cyber Crime against Women

Cyber Crime against Women

According to the National Commission for Women (NCW) data, there has been a significant rise in cyber crimes against women during lockdown with a total of 412 genuine complaints of cyber abuse in March and April. Out of these 396 complaints were serious ones from women ranged from abuse, threats, malicious emails claiming their accounts were hacked, blackmailed including the creation of fake profiles, cyberbullying, insensitive comments on posts are also terrifying.

Fake Websites & Applications on Android/iOS

The Cyber Division of New Delhi informed the citizens about malicious websites based on Coronavirus. They also warned the people by releasing the URLs of the fake websites and requested them not to access the below-mentioned websites: 

  • survive coronavirus.org
  • coronavirus-map.com
  • coronavirus.app
  • Best Coronavirus Protect.tk
  • Vaccine-coronavirus.com

These are some fake websites and there may be more but we have named some of them. The criminals are also intended towards the rise of fake apps like ‘Corona Lie 1.1’ which claims to be a live tracker of the Coronavirus Cases but instead it turns out to be malicious. This app can access the user’s privacy by invading the device’s location, cameras, photos, and videos. The Android Play store has removed many such apps to control the rise of fake apps and categorized them under the ‘sensitive events’ category.

Virus attacks

These are programs that make a copy of itself and spread into other programs for harming their devices and data so that it is deleted or altered. This type of attack is basically through an e-mail message when opened is attacked by a virus.

Attack on the WHO

According to reports of the WHO, there has been a drastic increase with five times a greater number of cyberattacks as 450 active e-mail addresses and passwords were leaked online with other thousands belonging to those who are working on the novel coronavirus updates and response. The attack affected the old extranet system which is used by the current and retired staff but the leaked information did not put the WHO system at risk as the data was old. 

Zoom-Bombing

Due to the shutdown of schools and offices, professionals and students have to attend online classes and meetings respectively so that they could continue their works and studies from home. So, for this, a video conferencing app called zoom is in great usage. However, some issues are raised about the security of the app. Zoom Bombing is an unwanted or disruptive intrusion by hackers into a video conference call. Zoom bug allowed snooper to crack private meeting passwords in minutes so to avoid this type of issue Google Meet adds ‘Zoom-bombing’ protection for educators.

How to protect yourself from the frauds?

You can keep yourself safe from these scams and frauds by careful observation and attention. We have mentioned some points below to keep in your mind so that you do not become the victim of such cybercrimes:

  • Carefully examine the details of the app before downloading it from the Play store. Check the details of the developer, ratings, and reviews of the app given by the other users and avoid downloading any app from the third-party stores of the websites.
  • The use of two-factor authentication, effective and authentic antiviruses for mobiles and desktop will prevent malicious and fake apps from being installed.
  • Refrain yourself from accessing any attachments on mail that you haven’t asked for.
  • Be attentive while sharing your passwords or any personal information with others and do not trust any emails related to panic sense as any legitimate organization will always take the process in stages.
  • Do not believe in any e-mail message that WHO or any other organization will give lotteries or they will offer any certificates or prices from that mail.
  • The authenticated website will have a link in ‘https://’, in which ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. Check the spelling errors of the website as the legal websites generally do not have these mistakes. 

Conclusion

In this article, we have seen various instances of cybercrimes as the cybercriminal has left no stone unturned to utilize the unprotected information of the users by extracting their privacy for personal gains. However, efforts are being made by the cybersecurity firms to provide security and to solve the problems of the people. Organizations like WHO along with Delhi Police have issued guidelines for the people to protect themselves.

Also Read: WhatsApp Users Can Now Fact-Check Forwarded Messages for Misinformation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to file complaints of cybercrimes?

National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal is the scheme of the government of India for the ease of the victims to report cybercrime complaints online.

What is an IP spoofing?

It is a technique used to gain unauthorized access to computers by making false IP addresses indicating that it is from a reliable host and impersonating another computing system.

What are the laws preventing Cyber Crimes in India?

To conflict the problem of cybercrimes in India, the Information Technology Act, 2000 was approved for any activities which offend human sensibilities.

What Is Spam?

Spam is an unrequested email that is received through commercial advertisers if responded sometimes can lead to the hack of your personal information accessed from your system.

How to protect your Bank account details?

You can protect your Banking information by changing your passwords quarterly, never provide your login information to anyone, keep checking your bank statements and report all doubtful activities if any. 

How to file a complaint being a citizen of India if you have been victimized online by a foreign company?

You may file your complaints online on the National Portal related to all types of cybercrimes.

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