Author : Shresth Goel, Student at Jindal Global Law School
In the era of technology and fast-moving world, the world has become much more dependent on the internet. Internet has led to many technological advancements and is been used in every profession. This essential element has also brought some major challenges in our lives and one of them is Cyber-crime. This offence has capability to shatter down a country’s economy without any bloodshed. It is often observed that developed countries use this as a weapon to reflect their power and dominate over other countries. Many data scientists even say that; everyone is being observed by someone when they use the internet. From a mere internet spam to cyberwar, this offence has emerged drastically. This is often used as a tool to exploit smaller economies without being caught. Due to the anonymous nature of the crime, it becomes difficult to track the real culprits and advance counties take advantage of it. Laws have been framed in many developing nations but either they are not sufficient to curb this or they are just taken lightly. With this, this paper will focus on various reasons which make developing countries an easy target for criminals.
Today’s era is of technology and the internet has now become an essential part of our life. Our bank details, secret information, scientific formulas and other crucial information are kept on internet, assuming it to be the safest place, but, is it? Due to rapid advancement of technology, criminals now become smarter and more advance, and this has brought forward a new offence known as cyber-crime. Cyber-crime has attracted everyone’s attention these days from under-developed nations to well-developed nations, from a poor person to CEO of a big Multi-National Company. Its footprints are getting bigger and bigger with the rapid advancement of technology and are becoming a threat to cyber-security. The issue became so threatening that countries need to frame special laws against it. But it has also been observed that this issue has been neglected over times by developing countries and it is also true that there is no internationally accepted definition of cyber-crime yet. This term is so vast that as it is difficult to define in mere words. But broadly, cyber-crime can be described as having cyber dependent offenses, cyber-enabled offenses and, as a specific crime-type, online child sexual exploitation, and abuse. Even though cyber-crime is a global issue, this paper is going to argue about how cyber-crime affects developing countries the most.
Cyber-crime has now become trillion dollars’ market in the growing world. According to some estimates, the cyber-crime industry has been generating US$1.5 trillion globally and at least 700 million people became the victim of it in 2018. And it has been further observed that major proportion of the victims are from developing countries. There can be several reasons why developing countries are most vulnerable to cyber-crimes-
This modernistic crime requires bandwidth-intensive applications as it makes the task easier for cybercriminals to attack as what they need is smooth internet connectivity which is not present in underdeveloped countries. Broadband connection and internet connectivity are expanding at high pace in developing counties, like China whose mobile broadband subscription per 100 inhabitants was 83.6 in 2017. A related point is that African networks do not attract the same level of attention from hackers as other regions of the world because of the low level of connectivity of the region and low broadband penetration.
Another reason can be the growing demand for PC’s since the demand for PC remains highest in developing countries due to rapid industrialization and globalization, it thus directly leads to an increase in the percentage of victims in developing countries. If we consider India, the overall commercial PC market increased by 108% in recent years.
Third reason can be lack of skills as many internet users in developing countries are inexperienced and are not technically savvy, thus they become easy victims of these cybercriminals. According to a report by market research agency Kantar IMRB, internet users have increased by 7% in urban areas while it is increased by 35% in rural areas in India. This is one of the major factor which smoothens the path for criminals as an increase in internet users in rural areas makes the task trouble free for criminals to commit cyber-crime as it is much more easier to fool rural people in developing countries.
Hardware and software used by a nation also plays a crucial role in cyber-crimes. This is another factor where developed countries supersede developing countries and make them an easy prey for criminals. According to the product-cycle approach, ICT products are adapted in developing countries to meet the conditions of local markets. But most ICT products targeted for developing countries are low cost versions, as advanced features make them unaffordable for the citizens. Amount spent by developing countries against cyber security is much less than those spent by developed countries which makes developing countries more vulnerable to these cyber-attacks. USA’s budget for cyber security is around US$15 Billion which shows that developed countries take this issue seriously. While India’s budget for cyber security is expected to be US$1.9 Billion for 2019 which is comparatively too less.
Cyber-attack can also be a threat to national security. It has been observed in past that it has capability to shut down nuclear centrifuges, air defense systems, and electrical grids. Not only this, according to experts, after air, water, land and space, cyber space has become the fifth domain for war. Here also, developed countries will dominate as they have high secured software and cutting edge technology. A big example for this was observed in June 2019, where tensions between US and Iran spiked when US hit Iran as it launched cyber-attack on Iran’s intelligence system. Recently, it was recorded that massive cyber-attacks were launched on India, targeting banking and IT sector post Galwan Valley situations.
LAWS IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES
It has also been observed that in most developing countries either there is lack of laws against cybercrime or the punishments are so small in comparison to seriousness of crime, while some countries face the problem of implementation of these laws. Due to this, it gives confidence to cyber criminals to attack these nations, while in developed nations there are strict rules against cybercrimes and heavy punishments are laid down on those who commit cyber-crimes in these nations. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in USA is a good example in which even an attempt to hack will be considered as crime, and this act can give punishments up to 20 years. Even developing countries have laws regarding cyber security like Information Technology Act, 2000 in India, Computer Crimes Act, 1997 in Malaysia but the problem occurs in its implementation and effectiveness of these laws. According to report by Global Cybersecurity Index, countries like UK, USA and France etc. show high level of commitment towards cyber-security. While countries like Iran, Malaysia show low level of commitment towards cyber-security.
Cyber-attacks have a great impact on developing countries, it constitutes a prime obstacle to the diffusion of e-commerce and e-government in developing economies. Hacking not only leads to closure of websites but also creates a threat in the mind of customers. These attacks also affect the economic growth of a country as it leads to a decline in Foreign Direct Investment because potential investors would like to invest in a safe and secure environment, so these attacks directly hinder the development and trade relations of a country that it is having with other countries. Government cannot expand its activities electronically due to the threat of cyber-attacks. And thus restricting the number of online transactions in a day, which affects the business and commerce department. Many laws have been made against cyber-crime in developing countries but remain ineffective. An appropriate example for that would be New Delhi where almost 80% of the cases remain unsolved and some of the main reasons are understaffing and ill-equipped cyber cells. For a population of 1.8 crore there are only 50 staff members in cyber cell department.
These cyber criminals are well educated especially good in science, math and have excellence in computer department but due to lack of job opportunities, they remain unemployed, that’s the main reason for origin of cyber criminals who misuse their knowledge. Committing cyber-crime is not a hard task but it’s a smart task as it needs skills and knowledge instead of capital and power. And for them earning through committing crime is much easier and healthy earning task than doing a job under someone. Because of the anonymous nature of the crime, tracing and identifying these cyber criminals in not an easy task, which makes it difficult to put them behind the bars. Some powerful countries even promote these hackers by paying them huge amount for the purpose of hacking the software and stealing the secret data of other countries. Even though this crime had not been observed as danger to life in past, but it can act as a serious threat to humanity in future. So, it’s a high time now, developing countries must take a stringent action against it and make their countries a safe place to live in and secure place to trade and invest. And this can be possible by framing strict laws against it and also implementation of those laws is must. Establishing cyber cells and training officers can be strong step towards it. By spreading awareness in rural and urban areas, crime rate can be reduced. Other developed countries should also help developing countries by providing them secure software and PC’s at a reasonable rate instead of charging them exorbitant prices.
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