Interview

Delete Cyber Crimes : Dr R S Praveen Kumar, DIG & Jt Director, Andhra Pradesh Police Academy, Hyderabad

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Dr R S Praveen Kumar, DIG & Jt Director, Andhra Pradesh Police Academy, Hyderabadwww.apstatepolice.org

Dr R S Praveen Kumar
DIG & Jt Director, Andhra Pradesh Police Academy, Hyderabad


“With the IT Amendment Act 2008, most of the issues like cyber cafe regulations, privacy issues, email abuse, cyber stalking, terror sites and so on will be addressed. Here after, even an inspector rank officer can investigate offences under IT Act”


“Hundreds of citizens are now freely writing to us their views about our functioning and reporting crime through our crime buster link which in normal situation would not have been possible.”

Can you tell us in brief about the initiatives taken by the Hyderabad City Police to contain rapidly increasing cyber crime?

At the outset, there was hardly any awareness about cyber crime in Hyderabad, people didn’t know how to report such incidents, whom to approach, what evidence to preserve and how to protect themselves from such crimes. On the policing front too, it is a very nascent field, hence, they didn’t know how to investigate such crimes. In fact there was no clarity as to what can be called a cyber crime and what sections of penal law are to be applied.

First we set about creating awareness. With the encouragement of the present City Police Commissioner B Prasada Rao, we started a City Computer Training Centre where the officers were exposed to the emerging challenges of cyber crime.

We also started a Cyber Crimes Cell in the Detective Department of the city police to assist all the investigating officers. Our official website– hyderabadpolice.gov.in – launched with the help of AP National Informatics Centre, serves as a good forum to share our views  with the citizens and vice versa. Then we also started an SMS service 9010100100 so that  citizens can report to us any incidents even if they are offl ine.

How did the Delete campaign start? How
successful have you been in realising its objectives?

Delete campaign is an unique concept. When we analysed the pattern in cyber frauds, we  realised that cyber frauds happened through unsolicited emails or SMS. Most of the victims  didn’t have computers of their own and hence accessed net through cyber cafes and money  was deposited in genuine bank accounts. Indian urban youth would be used as money mules  and the chief perpetrator would always be a foreigner, in most cases Nigerians on visiting or  business visa, and so on. The point here is that the crime starts with a mail/sms. Hence to  prevent it we must either read it, without responding to it, which is diffi cult, or the second  option is to just delete it. We decided to concentrate on the second option. Our cyber cops,  cyber administrative teams (IT core teams in other words) regularly visit cyber cafes, public  and private offi ces, banks, ATMs etc to spread the message. So we have already covered 1/4th of the cyber cafes in the city.

“Hundreds of citizens are now freely writing to us their views about our  functioning and reporting crime through our crime buster link which in normal situation would not have been possible.”

How skilled and equipped is your team to tackle this newly evolved crime?

Capacity building is a continuous process. Our knowledge initially was minimal. As we  realised that this is going to affect our endeavours, we started training our offi cers in AP  Forensic labs, GEQD, CFSL, etc. On top of it, we also got fi rst hand experience dealing with the  victims and cyber criminals. Since cyber crime is a highly dynamic fi eld, we continue to learn.

Do we need a good number of ethical
hackers working closely with security agencies, to tackle this menace?

Yes, of course. Ethical hacking is a highly focussed activity. We take their help only after  verifying their antecedents and for crime investigation only. We also take the help of many  private cyber security agencies and freelancers in the investigations.

Do you think ICT can be used to
transform the way police departments work in our   country and make it more sensitive towards the citizenry, besides bringing transparency and accountability within the organisation?

Absolutely, it adds ease to life, removes hassles, improves effi ciency and adds quality. For  example, hundreds of citizens are now freely writing to us their views about our functioning  and reporting crime through our crime buster link which in normal situation would not have  been possible. This is only a beginning. We will harness its real potential in the days to come.

Do we have enough legislation to deal with this issue? Please elaborate.

Till recently no. But with the IT Amendment Act 2008, most of the issues like cyber cafe  regulations, privacy issues, email abuse, cyber stalking, terror sites and so on will be  addressed. Here after, even an inspector rank offi cer can investigate offences under IT Act.  This itself is enough to make a huge change.

What kind of challenges do you
encounter while working in this area?

The most important challenge is with regard to Application service providers. There is  tremendous scope for further improvement in this regard. Secondly, international cooperation is needed as cyber crimes know no borders. Thirdly, cooperation among all LEAs  (law enforcement agencies) is a must in the country. Public Private Partnerships in capacity  building of police forces and improving quality of investigations are other two requirements.  Lastly, there is a need for lot of investment in generating awareness about cyber crime in the  public. What we are doing now is solely our initiative. May be, government departments and  agencies like NASSCOM, DSCI, CDAC, etc should lead the way.

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