Anand Haridas

KOCHI: The city police are gearing up to take on new-age criminals in their own terrain. The police have entered into an agreement with Orkut, an online community portal, to check its misuse.

With this, Kochi becomes the fourth city after New Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow to have a facility to tackle those misusing Orkut.

On an average, the police get 20 complaints a month about misuse or abuse of the portal, which has caught on with those hooked to the Net.

“Most of the complaints are about creation of false identities or posting of abusive contents. Now, on the basis of the agreement with Orkut, we can report abuse directly from our account and the site will be removed within 24 hours,” said City Police Commissioner Manoj Abraham. Despite the increasing tendency to misuse the site, a majority of the complainants refuse to persist with their complaints. And hence, there has been only four-odd cases resulting in punishment.

Though most of the complainants stop at getting the false site removed, the police team can support those who want to follow up the complaint. “We can have the Internet Protocol (IP) address, if we want to, and thus lead to the suspect,” Mr. Abraham said.

Once convicted, offenders can get imprisonment up to five years under the information technology Act.

Cyber cell

Without falling back on the Hi-Tech Cell of the Kerala Police, based in Thiruvananthapuram, the city police are going ahead with fully equipping its own cyber cell. At present, it has nearly 25 personnel.

“These men are being trained in advanced cyber investigation techniques, such as mail sniffing, which means hacking into someone’s email account without the owner knowing it. These tools are essential as more criminal and terrorist activities are being reported in cyber space,” Mr. Abraham said.

Officials of Microsoft will soon conduct a training session for the cell personnel. Efforts are also being made to establish a personal rapport with email providers, such as Hotmail and Yahoo, to avoid procedural delays and hold-ups in pursuing instances of online crime. Training sessions with leading new-generation banks on detecting abuse of credit cards are also on the cards. A similar session was held with HDFC Bank a couple of years ago.