India Calls for Stricter Actions Against Cybercriminals

Home Affairs Minister Seeks to Tackle Financial Fraud, Boost Security Stance
India Calls for Stricter Actions Against Cybercriminals
Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah (center) at the 30th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council in Jaipur, India (Image: Ministry of Home Affairs)

India's top internal security official vowed a crackdown on cybercrime amid rising fears of a vulnerable population.

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In a Saturday meeting with northwestern state officials, Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah said New Delhi will collaborate with states on a strategy even as he urged local governments to take strict action against cybercriminals.

Crime statistics collected by the federal government show reported cybercrimes nearly doubling from 2018 to 2020, with hot spots in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. Fraud is the most common motive behind cybercrimes, followed distantly by extortion and what the government classifies as "causing disrepute."

Shah made the comments in a meeting of the Northern Zonal Council, the regional advisory body consisting of the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan; the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, and Ladakh; and the national capital territory of Delhi.

Strategies to Counter Cybercrime

Shah called for a number of changes to India's cybercrime posture:

  • Stricter actions against cybercriminals: The repercussions and penalties for flouting India's Information Technology Act 2000 currently range from a few tens of dollars to thousands of dollars and from three years jail to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the crime.

    Shah called for improved coordination between central and state security agencies. He advised the council members to use "common software" developed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

    The Ministry of Home Affairs did not respond to Information Security Media group's request for clarification about which software Shah referred to.

  • Committee dedicated to strategizing the fight against cybercrime: Shah said he will create a committee headed by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla to formulate a strategy to prevent financial frauds and cybercrimes committed through social media. The government has not announced a definitive timeline for the panel's formulation and other details.

  • Awareness campaigns and training: Shah advised council members to create awareness campaigns boosting vigilance and basic cybersecurity hygiene via multiple mediums, including social media.

    There is also a "need to train police officers, public prosecutors and cutting-edge agencies, including telecom companies and their [point of sale] agents with new technology and advanced skills," Shah says.

India recently adopted one of the tightest breach reporting mandates in the world. It came into effect on June 28 (see: India to Set 6-Hour Breach Reporting Requirement).

Company executives who spoke with ISMG hailed the move but expressed concerns about the practicality of such a tight reporting timeline.

About the Author

Mihir Bagwe

Mihir Bagwe

Principal Correspondent, Global News Desk, ISMG

Bagwe previously worked at CISO magazine, reporting the latest cybersecurity news and trends and interviewing cybersecurity subject matter experts.

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