Colleges respond poorly to police’s cyber group initiativeNews, Tech — By The Desk on February 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Times of India: The Pune police’s initiative to establish ‘Cyber awareness groups’ (CAGs) at higher and technical institutions in the city, has drawn a lukewarm response from colleges.
Barely 40 colleges have so far established the CAGs, which are positioned as key facilitators to the police’s effort to generate consciousness among students about growing instances of cyber crime, changes in cyber laws and their implications for internet users. The University of Pune alone has 378 affiliated higher and technical colleges located in the city.
According to the police, students are most susceptible to cyber crime as they constitute the bulk of internet users, who are into social networking sites and also use mobile phones in large numbers. “There is insufficient awareness among students as to what acts constitute a cognizable offence under the amended Information Technology (IT) Act of 2008,” said Rajendra Dahale, deputy commissioner of police (cyber cell), while speaking to TOI on Monday.
“The previous IT Act of 2000 had many provisions, which were non-cognisable in nature and were seen as a major hurdle in acting against the offenders. However, the amended IT Act 2008 has many provisions that are now cognizable and provide for stringent punitive action,” he said. For instance, if a student gets an SMS from another student and thinks the message is objectionable, the act could be a cognizable offence under Section 66 (1) of the IT Act 2008.
According to Dahale, cyber crime has grown at an annual rate of 80 to 90 pc in recent years as against the 10 to 12 pc growth of other crimes like murder, dacoity and body offences. The trend can be established from the number of crimes that get reported to the police’s cyber cell. Only five cyber crime cases were reported in year 2003 and the number grew steadily to 79 complaints in 2006; 271 cases in 2009 and 390 cases by end of September 2010.
Almost 30 per cent of the 390 cases were related to Nigerian frauds, 25 per cent were credit card frauds, 20 per cent pertained to phishing attacks, 15 per cent related to crimes on social networking sites and 10 per cent were data thefts.
Similarly, issues like software and internet piracy, cyber crimes against girls and women, cyber murder, mobile-related safety tips and precautionary measures to be taken during credit card transactions need to be addressed adequately in terms of awareness.
Early in January, Dahale had sent a letter to the regional joint director for technical education (DTE), elaborating the CAG initiative and urging that directives be sent to technical institutions to set up the groups. According to the scheme, each CAG is to comprise one professor or teacher and six students, preferably from the final year of the degree courses, who are fairly well-versed with computers and related issues. The colleges were asked to send details of the CAG constituted and the college’s e-mail address by January 31. These mailing addresses were to be used by the cyber cell to provide updates on developments relating to cyber crime, how to tackle them and the dos and don’ts to avoid falling prey to cyber fraud etc.
Very few technical institutions responded to the police’s initiative, prompting the regional joint DTE, D N Shingade, to send a fresh letter to all institutions on January 29, asking them to ensure that the CAGs are in place by February 3. The letter also warns of consequences in case colleges fail to respond.
Dahale is hopeful that things will pick up in the next fortnight. “The CAG initiative may not have reached each and every college but target is to get at least 250 colleges to set up the cyber awareness groups in phase-I, which is to end by February 15, and we will pursue the matter with the colleges.”