What ails India’s cyber crime cells?

by K K Mookhey, NII Consulting

Scott Carney over at Trailing Technologies did an interesting post on the Chennai Cyber Crime Cell needing an upgrade. The officers informed him that their lack of success was due to a lack of proper equipment, and that they needed a Rs. 1 crore (USD 200,000) investment to actually solve more crimes. But I think that is a fallacious argument. From our experience conducting forensics investigations, you can do really good work without needing investments of that magnitude. Plus, the Forensics Lab in Hyderabad (which does all sorts of forensics, not just for cybercrime) has some really state of the art stuff, including Encase Enterprise Edition.

From my experience working with the Mumbai Cyber Crime Cell, here’s what really ails the low dismal rate of convictions:

1. Lack of training. I have not yet met a single CCC officer who has been formally trained in computer forensics methodologies. This is a complete lack of vision on the part of the IT Ministry or whichever bureaucracy oversees their operations. The skills and techniques required to collect evidence in a manner in which it is not destroyed and can actually stand up in a court of law, is not imparted at all. Police officers from the crime branch or the Economic Offences Wing with some computer savvy are selected for the CCC. Now, some of them try to do a really sincere job given the limited support they get.

2. Lack of a standard forensics methodology: Most Western nations have well-defined computer forensics methodologies, which all cyber crime units are expected to follow. A failure to go by the book in this instance, means the case will often fall apart in a court of law. India has simply no such standard operating procedure.

3. Lack of really good cases: While the magnitude of cyber crime in India is not really known, a large majority of the cases that come to the Cells are simply cyber-stalking or pornographic emails, usually sent to women, and usually by men they know in real life, but who hide behind “anonymous” email IDs.

4. Weak computer crime laws. The Indian IT act is woefully inadequate, and this is worsened by the usually slow judicial process in India, where it could take easily more than 5 years for the case to come up for hearing, and sometime twice as much for a decision to be arrived at. I have written about this earlier as well.


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1 comment

Reg point 2 “Lack of Standard Forensic Methodology”
The laboratory of Govt. Examiner of Questioned Documents, Kolkata and its Digital Forensic Division is using the standard procedures for Digital Forensics. The laboratory and its Digital Forensic Division is accredited as per the norms of ISO/IEC 17025:2005.

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