India’s rapid and uncontrolled digitization combined with a young digital population and an inadequate response mechanism make cyber-attacks easy to carry out. Frauds involving theft of small amounts of money, social media bullying, lottery scams and sexual harassment are some of the motives behind attacks. These made up more than 11,500 reported incidents across the country in 2015.
With increasing dependence on the use of digital files, data breaches have been making headlines in recent years worldwide constantly. India is no exception, the most recent incident involving the Aadhaar system which got hacked and comprised the personal information and biometrics of over one billion Indians in January 2018. The implications of this software hack caused concerns for national security, because this national database of IDs was supposed to have been mandatory, from using mobile phones to accessing bank accounts.
As for Indian businesses, they seem to understand the risks of unprotected digital data. Business leaders believe in the allocation of cyber budgets mainly to prevent this situation, in order to avoid the consequences of an attack.
Harassment and bullying are other aspects of criminals exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet. A 2018 survey of parents indicated a 63 percent awareness of online bullying among Indians. A large share of people in the country agree that the responsibility for intolerant behavior in the online space lies with both the user as well as the social media platform; and most also believe that cyber-bullying cannot be dealt with existing laws but need special attention.
A lack of awareness among the population causes many cyber incidents to be left unreported. In cases where it is reported, the infrastructure and process to tackle the crime is often inefficient. In the IT capital of the country, Bangalore, one police officer was reported to handle as many as five thousand investigations, most involving password theft. On the bright side, police departments across the country use social media campaigns to increasing awareness among citizens; and the presence of cyber cells in different cities increases along with training their respective personnel, showing that efforts are being taken in the direction of a safe digital space.