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India inaugurates hackathon and cyber challenge for police officials

Image credit: National Crime Records Bureau; Twitter

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently inaugurated the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Hackathon and Cyber Challenge 2020-21 in New Delhi, earlier this week. The event is a continuation of the hackathon and cyber challenge that concluded last March.

Police officials, especially those from academia, the industry, and students have been invited to participate in the event to help improve existing information technology (IT) applications and help create new applications to improve the CCTNS ecosystem.

A mobile app, Locate Nearest Police Station, was also launched at the function. The app is expected to help commuters, interstate travelers, and domestic and foreign tourists, especially during emergencies. It has the facility to dial a helpline. The app can be downloaded from the master police portal, under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

According to a press release, this will add to other central citizen services that are provided by the NCRB. Others include Missing Person Search, Generate Vehicle NOC, and Proclaimed Offenders Information, among others. This is another step towards improving the accessibility of the police force to citizens.

The Director of NCRB and senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and NCRB were also present at the inaugural function, as well as senior Police Officers of States/Union Territories, and various other participants joined through the online platform.

As per data maintained and published by NCRB, 21,796, 27,248, and 44,546 cybercrime cases were registered in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively.  According to a separate press statement, the government noted that the motives behind cybercrime in the country inter-alia include personal revenge, fraud, exploitation, inciting hate, spreading piracy, and stealing information.

During the first 9 months of 2020 alone, organisations and individuals estimated losses of about $6 trillion due to cyber thefts, with organisations that had the highest level of security also falling prey to cyber crimes, a report noted. Research has further predicted that by 2027, over 900 million Indians will have a digital presence, and coupling it with the unscrupulous use of personal data and information by service providers, it is vital to implement stringent cybersecurity laws.

As per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, state governments are primarily responsible for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of crimes including cybercrimes.  The Law Enforcement Agencies act as per legal provisions of law against cybercrime offenders.

To strengthen the mechanisms that deal with cybercrimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner, the central government has taken steps to spread awareness about cybercrimes. These include issuing alerts/advisories, the capacity building/training of law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judicial officers, and improving cyber forensic facilities.  The government has also launched the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal to enable citizens to report complaints pertaining to all types of cybercrimes, focusing on cyber-attacks against women and children.

Further, the government operates the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre), which detects malicious programmes and provides free tools for cleaning malicious code as well as tools such as M- Kavach, which addresses threats related to mobile phones. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) coordinates with its counterpart agencies in foreign countries on cyber incidents originating outside the country.

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