With increased Internet usage, incidents of cyber crime and phishing in the country are on the rise, according to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the Central Department of Information Technology. As per latest data, a total of 508 phishing (e-mail fraud) cases were reported in 2010, while 386 cases had already been reported in the first 10 months of 2011.

“There have been incidents reported to CERT-In by law enforcement agencies on the hacking of email accounts and posting of objectionable content, including videos, on the Internet, especially on social networking websites, damaging the reputation of individuals. A large number of phishing incidents leading to the hacking of bank accounts have also been reported to CERT-In by banks and financial institutions,” Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

Pointing out that the Information Technology Act, 2000, had already been amended by the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008, to provide a legal framework to address prevalent cyber crimes, Mr. Pilot said the law now provided stringent punishment ranging from imprisonment of three years to life imprisonment and fines for various acts of cyber crime, including tampering with computer source documents, hacking of computers and publishing of obscene information.

“We are constantly monitoring all e-mail, Internet fraud cases…our law enforcement agencies are dealing with cyber crime very strictly. With the growth of Internet users in India, we will further step up our vigilance mechanism. We are constantly upgrading our anti-cyber crime paraphernalia to give maximum protection to Internet users in India,” Mr. Pilot told The Hindu .

In recent years, cases of phishing, where cyber criminals acquire financial and other important information from Internet users, have gone up. From 217 cyber crime cases reported in 2007, the total number of such cases skyrocketed to 966 in 2010, as per the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).