Hyderabad: Not a single hacker operating from any foreign land has so far been arrested by the State cyber police due to the cumbersome process involved in investigating the hacking cases to their logical end.
Every month, Hyderabad cyber crime police receive at least 2-3 hacking complaints. Most of these hackers are foreign nationals operating from abroad. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why lesser number of people approach law enforcing agencies to lodge complaints of hacking.
On Friday, a miscreant had hacked Hyderabad shuttler Sikki Reddy’s Instagram account and demanded $ 700 to let her have it back. Even Sikki Reddy did not lodge a complaint.
According to police, whenever a victim approaches them with a hacking complaint, they usually register a case under the Indian Penal Code before investigating the case. First, the investigators write to the social networking site or mail service from where the victim’s account has been hacked. Service providers usually reply within a week revealing the internet protocol (IP) address of the system / device through which the account has been hacked.
“If hacking has taken place from a server based in India, then the service provider will reveal the data based on which we investigate the case and try to track the fraudster. But in most hacking cases, we find that hacking has been done from a foreign land. Their service providers also do not reveal data as it is out of their jurisdiction, making it difficult for us to investigate the cases,”’ a Hyderabad cyber crime police official stated.
The official said if India has a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) with the country in which the hacking server has been traced, it would take at least six months to get a response. But in the absence of MLAT, police will keep sending letters rogatory (LR) to the country for information, which will take at least two years.
As hacking cases involving foreign nationals is a transnational crime, only an MLAT between the two countries can enable police to gather and exchange information with that country. “The process itself is so cumbersome that it ends with no arrests,” the official said observing that the treaty would provide a broad legal framework for bilateral cooperation in investigation and prosecution of crime. Further, all these processes should go through the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which is the nodal agency, and it takes a minimum of six months for the process, if not more. As per the CBI, India has signed MLAT with 39 foreign countries.
In case of foreign countries with which India has no MLAT treaty, the letters rogatory are a formal plea to a foreign court for judicial assistance. The foreign countries, after going through all the documents, may direct their agencies to work on the case. This will take at least two years, explained the police official.
It is because of this cumbersome process that cyber criminals go scot free, which only encourages them to continue committing crime, looting lakhs of rupees. That is why most of the cyber crooks sitting in foreign lands target victims in India.
The Hyderabad cyber crime police have advised users to activate multi-factor authentication and regularly change passwords.