Financial frauds account for over 75% cyber crimes, alarming prevalence of UPI-related cases: Study

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Noida: Financial frauds accounted for over 75 per cent of cyber crimes in the country from January 2020 till June 2023, with nearly 50 per cent cases related to UPI and internet banking, according to a new study by an IIT Kanpur-incubated start-up.

Social media-related crimes such as cheating by impersonation, cyber-bullying, sexting and email phishing accounted for 12 per cent of the online offences during the period, the study showed.

The findings have been mentioned by the Future Crime Research Foundation (FCRF), a non-profit start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, in its latest comprehensive whitepaper 'A Deep Dive into Cybercrime Trends Impacting India'.

For online financial frauds, which accounted for the maximum 77.41 per cent offences during the period, the FCRF noted that "this category is a dominant concern, covering fraudulent activities related to online financial transactions".

"Subcategories include debit/credit card fraud, business email compromise, internet banking-related fraud, and the alarmingly prevalent UPI (Unified Payments Interface) fraud (47.25 per cent)", it said.

These figures underscore the need for robust cyber security measures to safeguard financial transactions conducted online, the FCRF said.

Social media-related crimes accounted for 12.02 per cent online offences, according to the whitepaper.

"This category encompasses a wide range of crimes associated with online platforms and social media. Subcategories within this domain include cheating by impersonation, cyber-bullying, sexting, email phishing, and more. While cyber-bullying and impersonation accounted for significant percentages, email phishing and provocative speech for unlawful acts had a comparatively lower impact," it noted.

The FCRF stated that "other notable categories" contributed to nine per cent of the online crimes which delve into several other cybercrime categories with smaller but notable percentages, including online cyber-trafficking, online gambling, ransomware, cryptocurrency crime, and cyber terrorism.

Highlighting the diverse methods cybercriminals use to target digital infrastructure, the whitepaper also flagged that 1.57 per cent online crimes pertained to hacking or damage to computer systems such as unauthorised access, data breach, email hacking and website defacement or hacking.

"It is crucial for law enforcement agencies, individuals, businesses, and policymakers to understand the changing landscape of cybercrimes in India. This report not only highlights the distribution of cybercrimes but also underscores the need for collaborative efforts to combat these threats," FCRF co-founder Harshvardhan Singh said.

Singh added that "as technology continues to advance, so do the tactics of cybercriminals, making it essential for all stakeholders to stay informed and vigilant". PTI

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