The Internet is one of the greatest inventions of all time. It has made it possible for us to do a lot of things which were considered a fiction of the mind a little over a decade ago. With the reach it has over the world, coupled with its accessibility, the Internet has made the world ‘smaller’.
However, due to its global reach and user-friendliness, it has become a hotspot for one of the most advanced and notorious forms of crime – cybercrime.
There is no single universal definition of what a cybercrime is. But, basically, cybercrime, or computer crime, encompasses any criminal act that involves computers and networks. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of attacks that know no borders, either physical or virtual, cause serious harm and pose very real threats to victims worldwide.
In Nepal, the cases of cybercrimes have doubled in the current fiscal year as compared to the previous one. According to the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, a total of 650 cases of cybercrime have been registered in 11 months of the current fiscal year while it was only 309 in the previous year. Last month, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal arrested three Romanian nationals for allegedly stealing ATM card information of 1600 unsuspecting ATM cardholders in Kathmandu.
Considering the alarming growth of cybercrimes in our country, it is only wise to keep ourselves informed to which kind of cybercrimes were more exposed to. Here’s a list of 7 common types of cybercrimes in Nepal.
7 Common Cybercrimes in Nepal
Criminal Copyright Infringement
Criminal copyright infringement means the unacknowledged use of somebody’s intellectual property for the purpose of private financial gains. Any works protected by copyright when used without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works come under criminal copyright infringements. Piracy or theft are another names for infringement.
Something as little as copying the fonts of a company’s logo can also be related to this cybercrime, if the fonts are not open source. In simple words, if they are not free for duplication. However, this sort of crime is not heard of in the context of Nepal.
Another example of pirate offence is Source Code piracy case, which has been heard in Nepal recently. Since the case has not been solved, the whole story is an unsolved mystery. It has been reported that a software company allegedly filed a case against a Media House for copying their source code.
Identity theft or identity fraud is the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of someone else for the sole purpose of assuming that person’s name or identity for their own personal gain. Criminals can even use seemingly harmless pieces of information, such as your date of birth, to commit identity theft.
Once someone else gets hold of your personal information, they are actually able to do a large amount of different things with the information. The most common types of crime are ones which are considered to be financial fraud, such as credit card fraud, bank fraud, tax rebate fraud, benefit fraud and telecommunications fraud.
Identity thieves can also use your identity when they commit other crimes, such as entering (or exiting) a country illegally, trafficking drugs, smuggling other substances, committing cybercrimes, laundering money and much more. In fact, they can use your identity to commit almost any crime imaginable in your name.
Probably the most known and one of the most common forms of cybercrimes in Nepal. Hacking is the practice of modifying the features of a system, in order to accomplish a goal outside of the creator’s original purpose. The person who is consistently engaging in hacking activities, and has accepted hacking as a lifestyle and philosophy of their choice, is called a hacker.
The trend of hacking is increasing in Nepal due to weak cyber security and cyber law. Back in March this year, a group of Nepalese hackers named ‘Anonymous #opnep’ breached into the server of Nepal Telecom. They were able to access to all the vital details of NTC users that included username, citizenship name, as well as other private information. Metropolitan Crime Division recently tracked the hackers down and arrested 18-year-old Bikash Paudel for hacking over 200 websites including the NTC website. The 18-year old claimed that he hacked the sites “just for fun”.
Cyberstalking is a cybercrime in which the attacker stalks or harasses a victim using electronic communication, such as e-mail or instant messaging (IM), or messages posted to a Web site or a discussion group. A cyberstalker relies upon the anonymity afforded by the Internet to allow them to stalk their victim without being detected. Cyberstalking messages differ from ordinary spam in that a cyberstalker targets a specific victim with often threatening messages, while the spammer targets a multitude of recipients with simply annoying messages.
In July, the Metropolitan Police Crime Division arrested 23-year old Rahul Balmiki of Nepalgunj, who had hacked Facebook accounts of more than 40 women and posted obscene images and sent lewd messages to blackmail the victims.
Spams and Phishing
Spam is a form of electronic junk mail sent en masse to users. While annoying in its own right, it can potentially be very dangerous if part of a larger phishing scam. Phishing scams are a form of cybercrime that involves defrauding users by acting as legitimate companies or organizations in order to obtain sensitive information such as passwords and login credentials.
Spam is the electronic equivalent of the ‘junk mail’ that arrives on your doormat or in your postbox. However, spam is more than just annoying. It can be dangerous – especially if it’s part of a phishing scam.
Trade of Restricted Materials
Illegal trading of materials and services like drugs or drinks come under cybercrime. Cybercrime, in the sense, the trading of goods unlawfully on the Internet using chatrooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups and websites. The arrangements can take various forms: A manufacturer with a legitimate order to produce goods for a well-known company can deliberately over-run the volume of the order and sell the excessive items at lower prices in other markets. The same goods – such as drugs or drinks – may be sold in different markets at different prices in a process known as ‘parallel trading’. There is frequently straightforward counterfeiting of well-known brand goods, with 40% of cigarettes and 10% of cosmetics and perfumes sold worldwide believed to be fake.
In 2012, Nepali police arrested Kirtan Pokhrel, 40. He tried to cheat people by creating an event related to sexual tourism. He named the event “Bunga Bunga” which promised to provide underage girls from age 13 to 17.
Malvertising is a portmanteau of “malicious advertising”. It involves injecting malicious code in online advertisements to infect unwary users. No one expects to get infected with malware when they visit trusted popular sites like YouTube. Yet the attackers prey on users’ implicit trust of these sites to infect them via the third-party ad content quietly displaying on these pages and sometimes burrowing into viewers’ browsers and PCs, before they even click on anything. And since, malwares can be spread easily across a large number of legitimate websites without directly compromising those websites, attackers are being coaxed into this comparatively newer practice.
The Bottom Line
Users of computer systems and the Internet are increasing worldwide. It is easy to access any information easily within a few seconds by using the Internet which is a treasure trove of information and a large base of communications around the world. Nonetheless, the internet, for all its virtues, can be a dangerous place. Hence, it is imperative for, not just Nepalis but all netizens, to maintain caution with respect to anything that could jeopardize your security.