On December 12 last year, Bengaluru city’s cyber crime FIR system registered its 9,999th case. Soon after, it crashed. The automated registry of the main cyber crime police station in India’s IT capital was simply not built to log cases beyond the four-figure mark.
Cut to 2020, and the police would appear to have learned their lesson. Eight specialised cyber crime and economic offences police stations across the city are sharing the burden of the nearly 7,800 cyber-crime cases registered till the end of November.
Bengaluru Police police may have increased its cyber-crime combatting footprint, but a vital issue persists. Only about 10 per cent of cyber-crimes are investigated to the satisfaction of complainants—nearly 60 per cent of whom are people who have lost money in online frauds or have been targeted with morphed pictures.
A key reason for the poor resolution rate, particularly in cases of online monetary fraud, is the crucial time gap between the discovery of the crime by the victim and the registration of a complaint by the police—referred to as the “golden period”.
Now, the Bengaluru Police are now working on creating an automated, real-time system for stopping cyber crimes which will work in conjunction with banks, payment services, internet service providers, social media firms, and even the judiciary, to catch these crimes early.
At the heart of this Cyber Crime Information Report, or CIR, system—like First Information Report or FIRs—is an information technology-based BPO mechanism being built for the police by a tech firm. The system will alert banks and internet services within around two hours, the golden period, to block a transaction or a social media account reported to be linked to a cyber offence.
“Under the prevailing rules, it is mandatory that you come and file a complaint in the police station and you have to sign the FIR. What we are proposing is that wherever a person is located and gets an intimation of an illegal financial transaction, then he can intimate us in real-time,” said Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.
The Bengaluru Police are looking at setting up a 24/7 BPO system with police officers, technicians and data entry operators who will initiate action to stop a cyber crime as soon as a victim becomes aware of it and alerts the police through the 100 emergency number.
“The moment a person reaches us, a complaint will be created. It will instantaneously alert the nodal officers of concerned banks and service providers. The basic purpose would be to stop further transactions because we have a two hour period to block and reverse transactions with banks. This is the basic objective,” the Bengaluru police commissioner said.
“In cyber crimes, say when you unknowingly share your OTP with someone, it is an action that occurs in hardly 10 seconds. Take a morphed photo. It is sent to a group within seconds. However, to detect these crimes that happen within seconds, the police have to invest more than 1,000 man-hours of work,” he said.
“If we introduce the new system we will be taking care of at least 60 per cent of the cases. In the majority of the cases, the expectation of the victims is that the police should intervene and prevent the personal loss from occurring,” Pant said.
The Bengaluru police are also using the services of a few young, tech-savvy officers who have been posted in the city in recent days to create the real-time system.
“We are fine-tuning the system. We engaged a few companies. Some were not able to provide the perfect solution. We have reached 70 per cent of the creation of the system. Some technical issues have to be resolved by the service provider,” the Police Commissioner said.
Some aspects of software programs being developed by the government of India on similar lines would also be a part of the proposed CIR system.
The Bengaluru Police is working with the judiciary as well to obtain orders in a real-time manner. This is because social media service providers often require court orders to block third-party accounts alleged to be involved in cyber offences.
“We are trying to create a system where even a court order can be obtained to block a social media account that is sharing morphed pictures for instance. We are trying to create a system where a separate contact number is given for these cases. Once we have this then they will block it,” a senior police official said.
Over the past few months, the Karnataka government and the police have been working with banks to bring them on board for rolling out the cyber crime information system.
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