India’s Cyber Ecosystem needs more than patches

India’s Cyber Ecosystem needs more than patches

News: According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the incidence of cybercrime is on the rise in India. But the capacity of the enforcement agencies to investigate cybercrime remains limited.

What are the challenges related to Cyber security in India?

Dearth of procedural code:
• As ‘police’ and ‘public order’ comes under the State List, so the primary obligation to check crime and create the necessary cyberinfrastructure lies with States. But the IT Act and major laws are central legislations, so the central government must evolve uniform statutory procedures for the enforcement agencies.
• In India, we do not have any separate procedural code for the investigation of cyber or computer-related offences.

Shortage of Technical staff:
• There haven’t been many efforts by the states to recruit technical staff for the investigation of cybercrime which is essential because the regular police lack the ability to understand the technicalities involved in cybercrimes.
• Even the judiciary had highlighted the need for qualified staff who could acquire and analyze digital evidence. State governments must build up a sufficient capacity to deal with cybercrime. The case for Data Localization:
• Most cybercrimes are trans-national in nature with extra-territorial jurisdiction. The collection of evidence from foreign territories is a difficult process. In most social media crimes, we lack the ability to act promptly.
• Therefore, ‘data localization’ must feature in the proposed Personal Data Protection law so that enforcement agencies can get timely access to the data of suspected Indian citizens.
• For example, today we rely on a US non-profit agency to identify and remove online child sexual abuse material. We can build an in-house capacity to identify and remove such materials.

Continued expansion of Digital ecosystem:
• India’s growth will increase in adaptation of 5G technology and Internet of Things in the years to come which will increase the coverage of the internet-connected ecosystem. This will increase the use of consumer and citizen data which when stored in digital format exposes critical data and India will be breeding ground for potential hackers and cyber-criminals.

Limitations in carrying out tasks:
• Offences related to crypto-currency remain under-reported as the capacity to solve such crimes remains limited.
• Although most State cyber labs are capable of analyzing hard disks and mobile phones, they are yet to be recognized as 'Examiners of Electronic Evidence' (by the central government). Until then, they cannot provide expert opinions on electronic data.

What should be the way forward?
• Joint effort of Centre-state governments to frame statutory guidelines and facilitate investigation of cybercrime.
• Invest in cyber infrastructure by upgrading cyber labs.
• Invest in capacity building either through setting up separate cyber police station probably in each district and through recruiting technically qualified staff in every police station.

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