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Cyber Crime An introduction

The INTERNET was born around 1960‟s where its access was limited to few scientist, researchers and the defense only. Internet user base have evolved expontinanlty. Initially the computer crime was only confined to making a physical damage to the computer and related infrastructure. Around 1980‟s the trend changed from causing the physical damaging to computers to making a computer malfunction using a malicious code called virus. Till then the effect was not so widespread because internet was only combined to defense setups, large international companies and research communities. In 1996, when internet was launched for the public, it immediately became popular among the masses and they slowly became dependent on it to an extent that it have changed their lifestyle. The GUIs were written so well that the user don’t have to bother how the internet was functioning. They have to simply make few click over the hyper links or type the desired information at the desired place without bothering where this data is stored and how it is sent over the internet or whether the data can accessed by another person who is connected to the internet or whether the data packet sent over the internet can be snooped and tempered. The focus of the computer crime shifted from merely damaging the computer or destroying or manipulating data for personal benefit to financial crime. These computer attacks are increasing at a rapid phase. Every second around 25 computer became victim to cyber attack and around 800 million individuals are affected by it till 2013. CERT-India have reported around 308371 Indian websites to be hacked between 2011-2013. It is also estimated that around $160 million are lost per year due to cyber crime. This figure is very conservative as most of the cases are never reported. According to the 2013-14 report of the standing committee on Information Technology to the 15th Lok Sabha by ministry of communication and information technology, India is a third largest number do Internet users throughout the world with an estimated 100 million internet users as on June, 2011 and the numbers are growing rapidly. There are around 22 million broadband connections in India till date operated by around 134 major Internet Service Providers(ISPs).

Before discussing the matter further, let us know what the cyber crime is?

The term cyber crime is used to describe a unlawful activity in which computer or computing devices such as Smartphone’s, tablets, Personal Digital Assistants(PDAs), etc. which are stand alone or a part of a network are used as a tool or/and target of criminal activity. It is often committed by the people of destructive and criminal mindset either for revenge, greed or adventure.

Classification of Cyber Crimes

The cyber criminal could be internal or external to the organization facing the cyber attack. Based on this fact, the cyber crime could be categorized into two types:

 Insider Attack: An attack to the network or the computer system by some person with authorized system access is known as insider attack. It is generally performed by dissatisfied or unhappy inside employees or contractors. The motive of the insider attack could be revenge or greed. It is comparatively easy for an insider to perform a cyber attack as he is well aware of the policies, processes, IT architecture and weakness of the security system. Moreover, the attacker have an access to the network. Therefore it is comparatively easy for a insider attacker to steel sensitive information, crash the network, etc. In most of the cases the reason for insider attack is when a employee is fired or assigned new roles in an organization, and the role is not reflected in the IT policies. This opens a vulnerability window for the attacker. The insider attack could be prevented by planning and installing an Internal intrusion detection systems (IDS) in the organization.

 External Attack: When the attacker is either hired by an insider or an external entity to the organization, it is known as external attack. The organization which is a victim of cyber attack not only faces financial loss but also the loss of reputation. Since the attacker is external to the organization, so these attackers usually scan and gathering information. An experienced network/security administrator keeps regular eye on the log generated by the firewalls as external attacks can be traced out by carefully analyzing these firewall logs. Also, Intrusion Detection Systems are installed to keep an eye on external attacks. The cyber attacks can also be classified as structure attacks and unstructured attacks based on the level of maturity of the attacker. Some of the authors have classified these attacks as a form of external attacks but there is precedence of the cases when a structured attack was performed by an internal employee. This happens in the case when the competitor company wants the future strategy of an organization on certain points. The attacker may strategically gain access to the company as an employee and access the required information.

Unstructured attacks: These attacks are generally performed by amatures who don’t have any predefined motives to perform the cyber attack. Usually these amatures try to test a tool readily available over the internet on the network of a random company.

Structure Attack: These types of attacks are performed by highly skilled and experienced people and the motives of these attacks are clear in their mind. They have access to sophisticated tools and technologies to gain access to other networks without being noticed by their Intrusion Detection Systems(IDSs). Moreover, these attacker have the necessary expertise to develop or modify the existing tools to satisfy their purpose. These types of attacks are usually performed by professional criminals, by a country on other rival countries, politicians to damage the image of the rival person or the country, terrorists, rival companies, etc.

Cyber crimes have turned out to be a low-investment, low-risk business with huge returns. Now-a-days these structured crimes are performed are highly organized. There is a perfect hierarchical organizational setup like formal organizations and some of them have reached a level in technical capabilities at par with those of developed nation. They are targeting large financial organizations, defense and nuclear establishments and they are also into online drugs trading.

There are some cyber criminals offers on-demand and service. The person, organization or a country may contact these cyber criminals for hacking an organization to gain access to some sensitive data , or create massive denial-of –service attack on their competitors. Based on the demand of the customer the hackers write malware, virus, etc to suit their requirements. An organization effected by a cyber attack, not only faces financial loss, but its reputation is also adversely affected, and the competitor organization will definitely benefited by it.

Reasons for Commission of Cyber Crimes

There are many reasons which act as a catalyst in the growth of cyber crime. Some of the prominent reasons are:

Money: People are motivated towards committing cyber crime is to make quick and easy money.

Revenge: Some people try to take revenge with other person/organization/society/ caste or religion by defaming its reputation or bringing economical or physical loss. This comes under the category of cyber terrorism.

Fun: The amateur do cyber crime for fun. They just want to test the latest tool they have encountered.

Recognition: It is considered to be pride if someone hack the highly secured networks like defense sites or networks.

Anonymity- Many time the anonymity that a cyber space provide motivates the person to commit cyber crime as it is much easy to commit a cyber crime over the cyber space and remain anonymous as compared to real world.  It is much easier to get away with criminal activity in a cyber world than in the real world. There is a strong sense of anonymity than can draw otherwise respectable citizens to abandon their ethics in pursuit personal gain.

Cyber Espionage: At times the government itself is involved in cyber trespassing to keep eye on other person/network/country. The reason could be politically, economically socially motivated.


Various types of cyber crimes are:

Cyber Stalking

It is an act of stalking, harassing or threatening someone using Internet/computer as a medium. This is often done to defame a person and use email, social network, instant messenger, web-posting, etc. as a using Internet as a medium as it offers anonymity. The behavior includes false accusations, threats, sexual exploitation to minors, monitoring, etc.

Child Pornography

It is an act of possessing image or video of a minor (under 18), engaged in sexual conduct.

Forgery and Counterfeiting

It is a use of computer to forgery and counterfeiting is a document. With the advancement in the hardware and the software, it is possible to produce counterfeit which matches the original document to such an extent that it is not possible to judge the authenticity of the document without expert judgment.

Software Piracy and Crime related to IPRs

Software piracy is an illegal reproduction and distribution for personal use or business. It comes under crime related to IPR infringement. Some of the other crimes under IPR infringement are: download of songs, downloading movies, etc.

Cyber Terrorism

It is defined as the use of computer resources to intimidate or coerce government, the civilian population or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.


It is a process of acquiring personal and sensitive information of an individual via email by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The purpose of phishing is identity theft and the personal information like username, password, and credit card number etc. may be used to steal money from user account. If a telephone is used as a medium for identity theft, it is known as Vishing (voice phishing). Another form of phishing is Smishing, in which sms is used to lure customers.

Computer Vandalism

It is an act of physical destroying computing resources using physical force or malicious code.

Computer Hacking

It is a practice of modifying computer hardware and software to accomplish a goal outside the creator’s original purpose. The purpose of hacking a computer system may vary from simply demonstrations of the technical ability, to sealing, modifying or destroying information for social, economic or political reasons. Now the corporate are hiring hackers, a person who is engaged in hacking computers, to intentionally hack the computer of an organization to find and fix security vulnerabilities.

Creating and distributing viruses over internet

The spreading of an virus can cause business and financial loss to an organization. The loss includes the cost of repairing the system, cost associated with the loss of business during downtime and cost of loss of opportunity. The organization can sue the hacker, if found, for the sum of more than or equivalent to the loss borne by the organization.


Sending of unsolicited and commercial bulk message over the internet is known as spamming. An email can be classified as spam, if it meets following criteria:

Mass mailing:- the email is not targeted to one particular person but to a large number of peoples.

Anonymity:- The real identify of the person not known

Unsolicited:- the email is neither expected nor requested for the recipient.

These spam’s not only irritate the recipients and overload the network but also waste the time and occupy the valuable memory space of the mailbox.

Cross Site Scripting

It is an activity which involves injecting a malicious client side script into a trusted website. As soon as the browser executes the malicious script, the malicious script gets access to the cookies and other sensitive information and sent to remote servers. Now this information can be use to gain financial benefit or physical access to a system for personal interest.

Online Auction Fraud

There are many genuine websites who offers online auction over internet. Taking the advantage of the reputation of these websites, some of the cyber criminals lure the customers to online auction fraud schemes which often lead to either overpayment of the product or the item is never delivered once the payment is made.

Cyber Squatting

It is an act of reserving the domain names of someone else’s trademark with intent to sell it afterwards to the organization who is the owner of the trademark at a higher price.

 Logic Bombs

These are malicious code inserted into legitimate software. The malicious action is triggered by some specific condition. If the conditions holds true in future, the malicious action begins and based on the action defined in the malicious code, they either destroy the information stored in the system or make system unusable.

Web Jacking

The hacker gain access to a website of an organization and either blocks it or modify it to serve political, economical or social interest. The recent examples of web jacking are some of the websites of the educational institutes were hacked by Pakistani hackers and an animation which contains Pakistani flags were flashed in the homepage of these websites. Another example is Indian hackers hacked website of Pakistani railways and flashed Indian flag in the homepage for several hours on the occasion of Independence Day of India in 2014. Recently Ministry of Defense hacked by Chinese Hackers

Internet Time Thefts

Hacking the username and password of ISP of an individual and surfing the internet at his cost is Internet Time Theft.

Denial of Service Attack

It is a cyber attack in which the network is chocked and often collapsed by flooding it with useless traffic and thus preventing the legitimate network traffic.

Salami Attack

It is an attack which proceeds with small increments and final add up to lead to a major attack. The increments are so small that they remain unnoticed. An example of salami attack is gaining access to online banking of an individual and withdrawing amount in such a small amounts that it remains unnoticed by the owner. Often there is default trigger set in the banking website and transactions below say, Rs. 1000 withdrawal are not reported to the owner of the account. Withdrawing amount of Rs. 1000 over a period of time will lead to total withdrawal of a large sum.

Data Diddling

It is a practice of changing the data before its entry into the computer system. Often, the original data is retained after the execution on the data is done. For example, DA or the basic salary of the person is changed in the payroll data of an individual for pay calculation. Once the salary is calculated and transferred to his account, the total salary is replaced by his actual salary in the report.

Email Spoofing

It is a process of changing the header information of an e-mail so that its original source is not identified and it appears to an individual at the receiving end that the email has been originated from source other than the original source.


Cyber forensic is a branch of science which deals with tools and techniques for investigation of digital data to find evidences against a crime which can be produced in the court of law. It is a practice of preserving, extracting, analyzing and documenting evidence from digital devices such as computers, digital storage media, Smartphone’s, etc. so that they can be used to make expert opinion in legal/administrative matters.

The computer forensic plays a vital role in an organization as the our dependency on computing devices and internet is increasing day-by-day. According to a survey conducted by University of California7, 93% of all the information generated during 1999 was generated in digital form, on computers, only 7% of the remaining information was generated using other sources like paper etc. It not always easy to collect evidences as the data may be tampered, deleted, hidden or encrypted. Digital forensic investigation is a highly skilled task which needs the expose of various tools, techniques and guidelines for finding and recovering the digital evidences from the crime scene or the digital equipments used in the crime. With digital equipments like Smartphone, tablets, palmtops, smart TV, etc having increasing processing capabilities and computation speed, the possibility of use of these devices in cyber crime cannot be ruled out. A forensic investigator must not only have deep understanding of the working of these devices and also hands-on exposure to the tools for accurate data retrieval so that the value and integrity of the data is preserved.

A computer can be used intentionally or unintentionally to cyber crime. The intentional use is to use your computer to send hate mails or installing cracked version of an otherwise licensed software into your computer. Unintentional use is the computer you are using contains virus and it is spread into the network and outside the network causing major loss to someone in financial terms. Similarly a computer can be directly used to commit a digital crime. For example, your computer is used to access the sensitive and classified data and the data is sent someone inside/outside the network who can use this data for him own benefit. The indirect use of computer is when while downloading a crack of a software, a Trojan horse is stored in the computer, while creates a backdoor in the network to facilitate hacker. Now the hacker logs into your computer and use it for committing cyber crime. An experienced computer forensic investigator plays a crucial role in distinguishing direct and indirect attack. Computer forensic experts are also useful for recovery of accidental data loss, to detect industrial espionage, counterfeiting, etc.

In large organization, as soon as a cyber crime is detected by the incident handling team, which is responsible for monitoring and detection of security event on a computer or computer network, initial incident management processes are followed. This is an in-house process.

It follows following steps:

Preparation: The organization prepares guidelines for incident response and assigns roles and the responsibilities of each member of the incident response team. Most of the large organizations earn a reputation in the market and any negative sentiment may negatively affect the emotions of the shareholders. Therefore, an effective communication is required to declare the incident. Hence, assigning the roles based on the skill-set of a member is important.

Identification: based on the traits the incident response team verifies whether an event had actually occurred. One of the most common procedures to verify the event is examining the logs. Once the occurrence of the event is verified, the impact of the attack is to be assessed.

Containment: based on the feedback from the assessment team, the future course of action to respond to the incident is planned in this step.

Eradication: In this step, the strategy for the eradication or mitigate of the cause of the threat is planned and executed.

Recovery: it is the process of returning to the normal operational state after eradication of the problem.

Lesson Learned: if a new type of incident is encounter, it is documented so that this knowledge can be used to handle such situations in future.

The second step in the process is forensic investigation is carried out to find the evidence of the crime, which is mostly performed by 3rd party companies. The computer forensic investigation involves following steps:

Identify incident and evidence: this is the first step performed by the system administrator where he tries to gather as much information as possible about the incident. Based on this information the scope and severity of the attack is assessed. Once the evidence of the attack is discovered, the backup of the same is taken for the investigation purpose. The forensic investigation is never performed on the original machine but on the data that is restored from the backup.

Collect and preserve evidence: Various tools like Helix, WinHex, FKT Imager, etc. are used to capture the data. Once the backup of the data is obtained, the custody of the evidence and the backup is taken. MD5(message digest) hash of the backup is calculated and matched with the original one to check the integrity of the data. Other important sources of information like system log, network information, logs generated by Intrusion Detection Systems(IDS), port and process information are also captured.

 Investigate: The image of the disk is restored from the backup and the investigation is performed by reviewing the logs, system files, deleted and updates files, CPU uses and process logs, temporary files, password protected and encrypted files, images, videos and data files for possible stegnographic message, etc.

Summarize and Presentation: The summery of the incident is presented in chronological order. Based on the investigation, conclusions are drawn and possible cause is explained.

While carrying out the digital forensic investigation, rules and procedure must be applied. Specially while capturing the evidence. It should be ensured that the actions that are taken for capturing the data do not change the evidence. The integrity of the data should be maintained. It must be ensured that the devices used for capturing the backup are free from contamination.

Moreover, all the activities related to seizure, access, storage or transfer of digital evidence must be fully documented, preserved and available for review. Prevention is always better than cure. It is always recommended to fine tune your intrusion detection system like firewall occasionally perform penetration tests on your network to avoid pray to hacker. Last but not the least, report the crime.


      The recent events such as the hacking of our country defense & CBI website alarmed us to built a really hard cyber security system. With the persons who has practical knowledge in the field of Cyber Security.

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