Computer Crime Research Center

India: Cyber Crimes “an unlawful act where in the computer is either a tool or a target or both” – In Indian Legal Perspective

Date: September 27, 2004
Source: mondaq
By: Rajkumar Dubey

... under IPC and the Indian Telegraph Act.

Virus/worm attack

Virus is a program that attaches itselves to a computer or a file and then circulates 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.

E-mail spoofing

It is a kind of e-mail that appears to originate from one source although it has actually been sent from another source. Such kind of crime can be done for reasons like defaming a person or for monetary gain etc. E.g. if A sends email to B’s friend containing ill about him by spoofing B’s email address, this could result in ending of relations between B and his friends.

Email bombing

Email bombing means sending large amount of mails to the victims as a result of which their account or mail server crashes. The victims of email bombing can vary from individuals to companies and even the email service provider.

Salami attack

This is basically related to finance and therefore the main victims of this crime are the financial institutions. This attack has a unique quality that the alteration is so insignificant that in a single case it would go completely unnoticed. E.g. a bank employee inserts a programme whereby a meager sum of Rs 3 is deducted from customers account. Such a small amount will not be noticeable at all.

Web Jacking

This term has been taken from the word hijacking. Once a website is web jacked the owner of the site looses all control over it. The person gaining such kind of an access is called a hacker who may even alter or destroy any information on the site.

The Concept of Cyber Terrorism

Cyber crime and cyber terrorism are both crimes of the cyber world. The difference between the two however is with regard to the motive and the intention of the perpetrator.

While a cyber crime can be described simply as an unlawful act wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both, cyber terrorism deserves a more detailed definition. One can define cyber terrorism as a premeditated use of disruptive activities or the threat thereof, in cyber space, with the intention to further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives, or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives.

Tools of Cyber Terrorism:

Cyber terrorists use various tools and methods to unleash their terrorism. Some of the major tools are as follows:

1. Hacking
2. Cryptography
3. Trojan Attacks
4. Computer worms
5. Computer viruses
6. Denial of service attacks
7. E-mail related crimes

Motives behind any Attacks are:

1. Putting the public or any section of the public in fear; or
2. Affecting adversely the harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities; or
3. Coercing or overawing the government established by law; or
4. Endangering the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

Cyber Criminals

Any person who commits an illegal act with a guilty intention or commits a crime is called an offender or a criminal. In this context, any person who commits a Cyber Crime is known as a Cyber Criminal. The Cyber Criminals may be children and adolescents aged b/w 6-18 years, they may be organized hackers, may be professional hackers or crackers, discontented employees, cheaters or even psychic persons.

Adjudicating Authorities:

The Information Technology Act provides for appointment of a Controller of Certifying Authorities as also the Deputy and Assistant Controllers. The main functions of the Controller are to license, certify, monitor and oversee the activities of the certifying authorities. Also, failure to comply with the direction of the Controller would lead to serious consequences.

The Information Technology Act also provides for the establishment of appellate tribunals known as Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (CRAT). It provides that any person who is aggrieved by an order made by the Controller or Adjudicating officer may file an appeal with the CRAT. The CRAT is required to follow the principles of natural justice in deciding matters and has the same powers as are vested in the civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Any person who is aggrieved by the decision or the order of the CRAT may file an appeal to the High Court on any question of fact or law. The CRAT and the Adjudicating officer have the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain any suit and no injunction can be granted by any court or other authority against the action taken by them under the Act.

Jurisdictional Procedure

Jurisdiction is the power of the court to hear and determine a case, in the absence of which the judgment is impotent and ineffective. The basic problem with the Internet Jurisdiction is the presence of multiple parties in different parts of the world. Therefore in Internet it is difficult to establish with certainty as to the place where the defendant resides or where the cause of action took place. The popular contention is for the establishment of the ‘Law of Cyber Space’ thereby making Earth as the Jurisdictional venue for all Internet Crimes and related matters.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 extends to whole of India and also envisages any offence or contravention there under committed outside India by any person. Thus it confers extra-territorial jurisdiction on Indian courts and empowers them to take cognizance of offences committed outside India even by foreign nationals provided that such offence involves a computer, computer system on computer network located in India.

Further, any person irrespective of his territorial location and nationality using a computer located in India to commit an offence or contravention outside India is also liable under the Information Technology Act.

Cyber Crime Investigation Cell

The Central Bureau of Investigation (C.B.I) in India set up a ‘Cyber Crime Investigation Cell’ and "Cyber Crime Research &Development Unit" (CCRDU) to collect and collate information on cyber crimes reported from different parts of the country.

The function of this is to liaise with State Police and other enforcement agencies and to collect information on cases of Cyber Crime reported to them for investigation and also find out about the follow-up action taken in each case. The Unit liaises with software experts to identify areas that require attention of State Police for prevention &detection of such crimes with a view to train them for the task. It collects information on the latest cases reported in other countries and the innovations employed by Police Forces in those countries to handle such cases.

Measures to Prevent Cyber Crime

The Information Technology Act 2000 was passed when the country was facing the problem of growing cyber crimes. Since the Internet is the medium for huge information and a large base of communications around the world, it is necessary to take certain precautions while operating it.

Any person who operates the net should always abide by and following principles:

* He should not disclose any personal information to any one and especially to strangers.
* Updated and latest anti-virus software should be used to protect the computer system against virus attacks.
* While chatting on the net one should avoid sending photographs to strangers along with personal data as it can be misused.
* Backup volumes of the data should always be kept to prevent loss from virus contamination.
* Children should be prevented from accessing obscene sites by the parents to protect them from spoiling their mind and career.
* A credit card number shall never be sent to an unsecured site to prevent fraud or cheating.
* Effort shall be made to make a security code and program to guard the computer system from misuse.
* Routers and firewalls can be used to protect the computer network.
* A check should be kept on the functioning of cyber cafes and any mishappening shall be reported to the concerned authorities.
* Efforts should be made to discourage misuse of computers and access to unauthorized data.


Change is the essence of life. What seems impeccable and indestructible today might not remain the same tomorrow. Internet, being a global phenomenon is bound to attract many crimes. India has taken a key step in curbing Cyber Crimes by the enactment of the Information Technology Act and by giving exclusive powers to the police and other authorities to tackle such crimes.

Similar efforts have been made by various countries to fight this menace by enacting national legislations but in the long run, they may not prove to be as beneficial as desired. An effort is still wanted to formulate an international law on the use of Internet to curb this imminent danger of Cyber Crimes and to achieve a crime free Cyber Space. Prevention they say is the best cure. Cyber laws aim to prevent cyber crimes through the use of penal provisions. A great deal however needs to be done before Cyber laws can stand a fair chance to influence the modern...
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