GUWAHATI: The Assam Police has asked netizens to behave responsibly as it is the key to ensure their safety in cyber space. Online fraud in Assam amounts to 60.4% of the total cases of cyber offences, followed by other crimes such as identity thefts and online sexual exploitation.
In an interview with The Sentinel, Additional DGP (Administration/ Security/ M&L/ Border) Harmeet Singh talked on various aspects of cybercrimes. Excerpts follow:
The Sentinel: How do we ensure safety against cybercrimes?
Harmeet Singh: Responsible online behavior is the key to ensuring your safety in cyber space. Responsible online behaviour includes: Keeping personal information private, practising safe browsing, using strong passwords and staying clear of unverified links or websites and immediately reporting to relevant authorities, in case if you have been a victim of a cyber crime.
Are cyber crime cases increasing in the State? How many cases have been registered in the last few years?
As the world is going online in a big way, the scammers and criminals are moving in too. This is a global phenomenon; not unique to any country or State. In Assam, over 2,000 cases of cyber crimes were registered in 2019. However, this data also points to the fact that there's an increased level of awareness amongst the citizens on cyber crimes; and they are coming forward to report such violations.
Which age group is most likely to fall victim to cyber crime?
As per the reports of the 'National Crime Records Bureau', the largely vulnerable is that of the youths. However, there is no fixed age spread of the victims.
How can we ensure that our social media accounts are shielded from hackers?
In order to keep your account secure, always deploy two-factor authentication; do not interact with strangers; use all security and privacy tools that a platform offers; and do not share online your personal or private information.
How can awareness on cyber crimes be raised?
Raising awareness on 'Cyber Safety and Security' is a continuous process. It involves all stakeholders of the society. The Assam Police, under the guidance of DGP (Director General of Police) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, has taken several initiatives in this regard. Through our social media, which has a reach of more than 10 million per month, we have been doing awareness campaigns on cyber safety and security. We organized a month-long campaign on cyber safety recently. Organized in collaboration with the 'Cyber Peace Foundation', the 'Cyber Safety Month' was designed to promote and bolster the levels of cyber-safety awareness among citizens on common cyber and telefrauds, such as NetBanking, Phishing, Vishing, online identity theft and also on ways to prevent such frauds through creative graphics and illustrations, webinars, radio campaigns, surveys and a host of other activities including quizzes and competitions.
The 'Cyber Safety Month' campaign garnered over 1.9 million impressions online across the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Youtube. The Assam Police & CPF reached out to over 5,000 students and individuals to create awareness about the various forms of cyber threats. Similarly, CID (Criminal Investigation Department) has been doing such awareness sessions with various schools, colleges and other educational institutions to inculcate cyber awareness.
What kind of crimes is registered under cyber crime?
According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data of 2019, online fraud amounts to 60.4% of total cases, followed by other crimes such as identity thefts and online sexual exploitation.
Smartphones have reached the rural populace now, as they are no longer an urban phenomenon. What steps are being taken to raise awareness in the rural areas of the State?
In order to reach out to the last-mile users, our district-level teams have been conducting workshops, sessions and other awareness drives in local languages with the help of local volunteers.