Guide on Cyber Crimes in India
are millions of websites; all hosted on servers abroad, that offer
online gambling. In fact, it is believed that many of these websites
are actually fronts for money laundering. Cases of hawala
transactions and money laundering over the Internet have been
reported. Whether these sites have any relationship with drug
trafficking is yet to be explored. Recent Indian case about cyber
lotto was very interesting. A man called Kola Mohan invented the
story of winning the Euro Lottery. He himself created a website and
an email address on the Internet with the address 'firstname.lastname@example.org.'
Whenever accessed, the site would name him as the beneficiary of the
12.5 million pound.After confirmation a telgu newspaper published
this as a news. He collected huge sums from the public as well as
from some banks for mobilization of the deposits in foreign
currency. However, the fraud came to light when a cheque discounted
by him with the Andhra Bank for Rs 1.73 million bounced. Mohan had
pledged with Andhra Bank the copy of a bond certificate purportedly
issued by Midland Bank, Sheffields, London stating that a term
deposit of 12.5 million was held in his name.
include software piracy, copyright infringement, trademarks
violations, theft of computer source code etc. In other words this
is also referred to as cybersquatting. Satyam Vs. Siffy is the most
widely known case. Bharti Cellular Ltd. filed a case in the Delhi
High Court that some cyber squatters had registered domain names
such as barticellular.com and bhartimobile.com with Network
solutions under different fictitious names. The court directed
Network Solutions not to transfer the domain names in question to
any third party and the matter is sub-judice. Similar issues had
risen before various High Courts earlier. Yahoo had sued one Akash
Arora for use of the domain name ‘Yahooindia.Com’ deceptively
similar to its ‘Yahoo.com’. As this case was governed by the
Trade Marks Act, 1958, the additional defence taken against
Yahoo’s legal action for the interim order was that the Trade
Marks Act was applicable only to goods.
spoofed email is one that appears to originate from one source but
actually has been sent from another source. E.g. Gauri has an e-mail
address email@example.com. Her enemy, Prasad spoofs her e-mail
and sends obscene messages to all her acquaintances. Since the
e-mails appear to have originated from Gauri, her friends could take
offence and relationships could be spoiled for life.
spoofing can also cause monetary damage. In an American case, a
teenager made millions of dollars by spreading false information
about certain companies whose shares he had short sold. This
misinformation was spread by sending spoofed emails, purportedly
from news agencies like Reuters, to share brokers and investors who
were informed that the companies were doing very badly. Even after
the truth came out the values of the shares did not go back to the
earlier levels and thousands of investors lost a lot of money.
a branch of the Global Trust Bank experienced a run on the bank.
Numerous customers decided to withdraw all their money and close
their accounts. It was revealed that someone had sent out spoofed
emails to many of the bank’s customers stating that the bank was
in very bad shape financially and could close operations at any
time. Unfortunately this information proved to be true in the next
the best example of the email spoofing can be given by the Gujarat
Ambuja Executive’s case. Where he pretended to be a girl and
cheated the Abu dhabi based NRI for crores by blackmailing tactics.
currency notes, postage and revenue stamps, mark sheets etc can be
forged using sophisticated computers, printers and scanners.
many colleges across India, one finds touts soliciting the sale of
fake mark sheets or even certificates. These are made using
computers, and high quality scanners and printers. In fact, this has
becoming a booming business involving thousands of Rupees being
given to student gangs in exchange for these bogus but authentic
looking certificates.Some of the students are caught but this is
very rare phenomenon.
occurs when defamation takes place with the help of computers and /
or the Internet. E.g. someone publishes defamatory matter about
someone on a website or sends e-mails containing defamatory
information to all of that person’s friends.
first case of cyber defamation was reported when a company’s
employee started sending derogatory, defamatory and obscene e-mails
about its Managing Director. The e-mails were anonymous and
frequent, and were sent to many of their business associates to
tarnish the image and goodwill of the company.
company was able to identify the employee with the help of a private
computer expert and moved the Delhi High Court. The court granted an
ad-interim injunction and restrained the employee from sending,
publishing and transmitting e-mails, which are defamatory or
derogatory to the plaintiffs.
Oxford dictionary defines stalking as “pursuing stealthily”.
Cyber stalking involves following a person’s movements across the
Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin
boards frequented by the victim, entering the chat-rooms frequented
by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc.
Kohli has the dubious distinction of being the first lady to
register the cyber stalking case. A friend of her husband gave her
telephonic number in the general chat room. The general chatting
facility is provided by some websites like MIRC and ICQ. Where
person can easily chat without disclosing his true identity. The
friend of husband also encouraged this chatters to speak in slang
language to Ms. Kohli.
let us examine some of the acts wherein the computer is the target
for an unlawful act. It may be noted that in these activities the
computer may also be a tool. This kind of activity usually involves
sophisticated crimes usually out of the purview of conventional
criminal law. Some examples are:
access to computer systems or networks
activity is commonly referred to as hacking. The Indian law has,
however, given a different connotation to the term hacking, so we
will not use the term “unauthorized access” interchangeably with
the term “hacking”. However, as per Indian law, unauthorized
access does occur, if hacking has taken place.
active hackers’ group, led by one “Dr. Nuker”, who claims to
be the founder of Pakistan Hackerz Club, reportedly hacked the
websites of the Indian Parliament, Ahmedabad Telephone Exchange,
Engineering Export Promotion Council, and United Nations (India).
of information contained in electronic form
includes information stored in computer hard disks, removable
storage media etc.
bombing refers to sending a large number of emails to the victim
resulting in the victim’s email account (in case of an individual)
or mail servers (in case of a company or an email service provider)
one case, a foreigner who had been residing in Simla, India for
almost thirty years wanted to avail of a scheme introduced by the
Simla Housing Board to buy land at lower rates. When he made an
application it was rejected on the grounds that the scheme was
available only for citizens of India. He decided to take his
revenge. Consequently he sent thousands of mails to the Simla
Housing Board and repeatedly kept sending e-mails till their servers
kind of an attack involves altering raw data just before it is
processed by a computer and then changing it back after the
processing is completed. Electricity Boards in India have been
victims to data diddling programs inserted when private parties were
computerizing their systems.
NDMC Electricity Billing Fraud Case that took place in 1996 is a
typical example. The computer network was used for receipt and
accounting of electricity bills by the NDMC, Delhi. Collection of
money, computerized accounting, record maintenance and remittance in
he bank were exclusively left to a private contractor who was a
computer professional. He misappropriated huge amount of funds by
manipulating data files to show less receipt and bank remittance.
attacks are used for the commission of financial crimes. The key
here is to make the alteration so insignificant that in a single
case it would go completely unnoticed. E.g. a bank employee inserts
a program, into the bank’s servers, that deducts a small amount of
money (say Rs. 5 a month) from the account of every customer. No
account holder will probably notice this unauthorized debit, but the
bank employee will make a sizeable amount of money every month.
cite an example, an employee of a bank in USA was dismissed from his
job. Disgruntled at having been supposedly mistreated by his
employers the man first introduced a logic bomb into the bank’s
systems. Logic bombs are programmes, which get activated on the
occurrence of a particular predefined event.
logic bomb was programmed to take ten cents from all the accounts in
the bank and put them into the account of the person whose name was
alphabetically the last in the bank’s rosters. Then he went and
opened an account in the name of Ziegler. The amount being withdrawn
from each of the accounts in the bank was so insignificant that
neither any of the account holders nor the bank officials noticed
was brought to their notice when a person by the name of Zygler
opened his account in that bank. He was surprised to find a sizeable
amount of money being transferred into his account every Saturday.
Being an honest person, he reported the “mistake” to the bank
authorities and the entire scheme was revealed.
of Service attack
involves flooding a computer resource with more requests than it can
handle. This causes the resource (e.g. a web server) to crash
thereby denying authorized users the service offered by the
resource. Another variation to a typical denial of service attack is
known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack wherein the
perpetrators are many and are geographically widespread.
is very difficult to control such attacks. The attack is initiated
by sending excessive demands to the victim’s computer(s),
exceeding the limit that the victim’s servers can support and
making the servers crash. Denial-of-service attacks have had an
impressive history having, in the past, brought down websites like
Amazon, CNN, Yahoo and eBay!
/ worm attacks
are programs that attach themselves to a computer or a file and then
circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a
network. They usually affect the data on a computer, either by
altering or deleting it. Worms, unlike viruses do not need the host
to attach themselves to. They merely make functional copies of
themselves and do this repeatedly till they eat up all the available
space on a computer’s memory. The VBS_LOVELETTER virus (better
known as the Love Bug or the ILOVEYOU virus) was reportedly written
by a Filipino undergraduate.
May 2000, this deadly virus became the world’s most prevalent
virus. It struck one in every five personal computers in the world.
When the virus was brought under check the true magnitude of the
losses was incomprehensible. Losses incurred during this virus
attack were pegged at US $ 10 billion.
utilized the addresses in Microsoft Outlook and e-mailed itself to
those addresses. The e-mail which was sent out had "ILOVEYOU"
in its subject line. The attachment file was named
"LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs". People wary of opening
e-mail attachments were conquered by the subject line and those who
had some knowledge of viruses, did not notice the tiny .vbs
extension and believed the file to be a text file. The message in
the e-mail was "kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming
addition, the Love Bug also uses the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) for
its propagation. It e-mails itself to users in the same channel as
the infected user.
first selects certain files and then inserts its own code in lieu of
the original data contained in the file. This way it creates
ever-increasing versions of itself.
the world’s most famous worm was the Internet worm let loose on
the Internet by Robert Morris sometime in 1988. The Internet was,
then, still in its developing years and this worm, which affected
thousands of computers, almost brought its development to a complete
halt. It took a team of experts almost three days to get rid of the
worm and in the meantime many of the computers had to be
disconnected from the network.
are event dependent programs. This implies that these programs are
created to do something only when a certain event (known as a
trigger event) occurs. E.g. even some viruses may be termed logic
bombs because they lie dormant all through the year and become
active only on a particular date (like the Chernobyl virus).
Trojan as this program is aptly called, is an unauthorized program
which functions from inside what seems to be an authorized program,
thereby concealing what it is actually doing.
are many simple ways of installing a Trojan in someone’s computer.
To cite an example, two friends Rahul and Mukesh (names changed),
had a heated argument over one girl, Radha (name changed) whom they
both liked. When the girl, asked to choose, chose Mukesh over Rahul,
Rahul decided to get even. On the 14th of February, he sent Mukesh a
spoofed e-card, which appeared to have come from Radha’s mail
account. The e-card actually contained a Trojan. As soon as Mukesh
opened the card, the Trojan was installed on his computer. Rahul now
had complete control over Mukesh’s computer and proceeded to
harass him thoroughly.
connotes the usage by an unauthorized person of the Internet hours
paid for by another person. In May 2000, the economic offences wing,
IPR section crime branch of Delhi police registered its first case
involving theft of Internet hours. In this case, the accused, Mukesh
Gupta an engineer with Nicom System (p) Ltd. was sent to the
residence of the complainant to activate his Internet connection.
However, the accused used Col. Bajwa’s login name and password
from various places causing wrongful loss of 100 hours to Col. Bajwa.
Delhi police arrested the accused for theft of Internet time.
further inquiry in the case, it was found that Krishan Kumar, son of
an ex army officer, working as senior executive in M/s Highpoint
Tours & Travels had used Col Bajwa’s login and passwords as
many as 207 times from his residence and twice from his office. He
confessed that Shashi Nagpal, from whom he had purchased a computer,
gave the login and password to him. The police could not believe
that time could be stolen. They were not aware of the concept of
time-theft at all. Colonel Bajwa’s report was rejected. He decided
to approach The Times of India, New Delhi. They, in turn carried a
report about the inadequacy of the New Delhi Police in handling
cyber crimes. The Commissioner of Police, Delhi then took the case
into his own hands and the police under his directions raided and
arrested Krishan Kumar under sections 379, 411, 34 of IPC and
section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act. In another case, the
Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police arrested a computer engineer
who got hold of the password of an Internet user, accessed the
computer and stole 107 hours of Internet time from the other
person’s account. He was booked for the crime by a Delhi court
during May 2000.
occurs when someone forcefully takes control of a website (by
cracking the password and later changing it). The actual owner of
the website does not have any more control over what appears on that
website. In a recent incident reported in the USA the owner of a
hobby website for children received an e-mail informing her that a
group of hackers had gained control over her website. They demanded
a ransom of 1 million dollars from her. The owner, a schoolteacher,
did not take the threat seriously. She felt that it was just a scare
tactic and ignored the e-mail.
was three days later that she came to know, following many telephone
calls from all over the country, that the hackers had web jacked her
website. Subsequently, they had altered a portion of the website
which was entitled ‘How to have fun with goldfish’. In all the
places where it had been mentioned, they had replaced the word
‘goldfish’ with the word ‘piranhas’.
are tiny but extremely dangerous flesh-eating fish. Many children
had visited the popular website and had believed what the contents
of the website suggested. These unfortunate children followed the
instructions, tried to play with piranhas, which they bought from
pet shops, and were very seriously injured!
of computer system
type of offence involves the theft of a computer, some part(s) of a
computer or a peripheral attached to the computer.
damaging a computer system
crime is committed by physically damaging a computer or its
is just a list of the known frauds in the cyber world.The unknown
frauds might be far ahead of these since the lawbreakers are always
onestep ahead of lawmakers