Cyber Crime And Legal Frameworks In India



  1. Introduction 
  2. Cyber Crime And Legal Frameworks In India
  3. Types Of Cyber Crime
  4. Assessing Vulnerabilities
  5. The Information Technology Act, 2000
  6. Cyber Crime Provisions In The Indian Penal Code, 1860
  7. The Role of Companies Act 2013 In Cybersecurity Compliance
  8. Cybersecurity Framework And Its Benefits
  9. Significance Of Cyber Laws In Combatting Cyber Crimes
  10. Building A Comprehensive Cybersecurity Strategy
  11. Types Of Cybersecurity 
  12. Motivations Behind Cyber Attacks And Common Attack Types
  13. Essential Cybersecurity Requirements And Data Protection Strategies
  14. Conclusion 


Cyber law is a legal system that governs the internet, computer systems, and all things related to cyberspace and information technology. It includes rules on contracts, privacy, and intellectual property, and covers the distribution of software and data security. Cyber law also supports electronic commerce and recognizes e-documents legally. It ensures proper regulations are in place to prevent cyber crimes, which is increasingly important as e-commerce grows.

Cyber Crime And Legal Frameworks In India

Cyber crime involves any illegal activity using a computer, networked device, or related technology. Some cyber crimes are intended to generate profit for the perpetrators, while others aim to damage or disable computers and devices. Additionally, cyber criminals may use computers or networks to spread malware, illegal content, or harmful materials.

Profit-driven cyber crimes include ransomware attacks, email and internet fraud, identity theft, and fraud involving financial accounts or payment cards. Cyber criminals may also aim to steal and resell personal and corporate data.

In India, cyber crimes are addressed by the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Information Technology Act, 2000, primarily deals with cyber crimes and electronic commerce. The Act was amended in 2008 to better define and punish cyber crimes, with additional amendments made to the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Reserve Bank of India Act.

Types Of Cyber Crime 

Child sexual abuse materials (CSAMs) are any materials that contain sexual images involving exploited or abused children. Section 67(B) of the Information Technology Act stipulates that publishing or transmitting material depicting children in sexually explicit acts in electronic form is punishable.

A cyberbully harasses or bullies others using electronic devices like computers, mobile phones, and laptops. Cyberbullying involves using digital technology, including social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile devices. It often consists of repeated behaviour intended to scare, anger, or shame the targeted individuals.

Cyberstalking is the act of harassing or stalking another person online using the internet and other technologies. This can occur through texts, emails, social media posts, and other forms. Cyberstalking is typically persistent, methodical, and deliberate.

Cyber grooming involves an individual building a relationship with a teenager and using strategies to lure, tease, or pressure them into performing a sexual act. This manipulative behaviour is often aimed at gaining the victim’s trust for exploitative purposes.

Online job fraud schemes mislead people seeking employment by promising better jobs with higher wages, giving them false hope. On March 21, 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) alerted the public to beware of job scams. The RBI explained how online job fraud is perpetrated and provided precautions that people should take when applying for job opportunities, whether in India or abroad.

Online sextortion occurs when a cybercriminal threatens to publish sensitive and private material on an electronic medium to extort a sexual image, sexual favour, or money from the victim.

Phishing fraud involves sending an email that appears to be from a legitimate source but contains a malicious attachment designed to steal personal information such as ID, IPIN, card number, expiration date, and CVV. The stolen information is often sold on the dark web.

Vishing is a type of fraud where cybercriminals use phone calls to steal confidential information. They employ sophisticated social engineering tactics to trick victims into divulging private information and accessing personal accounts. Callers often pretend to be from the government, tax department, police, or the victim’s bank, convincing victims they are being polite by responding.

Smishing is a form of fraud that uses text messages to trick victims into calling a fake phone number, visiting a fraudulent website, or downloading malicious software. This software can then reside on the victim’s device and steal personal information.

Credit card or debit card fraud involves unauthorised purchases or withdrawals made using another person’s card to access their funds. This occurs when a criminal obtains the cardholder’s number or PIN, often through unscrupulous employees or hackers.

Impersonation and identity theft involve the fraudulent use of another person’s electronic signature, password, or other unique identifiers to impersonate them or steal their identity.

Assessing Vulnerabilities

To adequately prepare for a cyber attack, companies must thoroughly assess potential threats and consider all areas where they are vulnerable. This includes evaluating operational weaknesses and conducting a vulnerability assessment of all systems to identify those critical to the business. Understanding the potential exposures and assessing the impact of a cyber attack on business continuity is essential.

Businesses should check both their IT systems and operational technology systems for vulnerabilities. Ensuring that these systems are secure is crucial for protecting against cyber attacks.

Companies should adopt national or international technical standards that provide a high level of protection. These general prevention measures are recommended for companies that currently lack the necessary technical or financial capabilities.

Applying multiple layers of defence is essential. This should start with physical security and include management policies and procedures, firewalls and network architecture, computer policies, account management, security updates, and antivirus applications.

Implementing the principle of least privilege restricts information and access to only those who need it. This minimises the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches.

Businesses should implement network-hardening measures, ensure patch management is sufficient and proactively reviewed, and secure critical systems using technologies like protocol-aware filtering and segregation.

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Removable devices should be encrypted, and any USB device used with other systems should be tested for viruses to prevent malware infections.

To mitigate the negative impact of a cyber attack and restore business operations, companies should develop comprehensive business continuity plans, identify key personnel, and implement necessary processes.

Organising frequent training and awareness sessions for all employees is crucial. This helps in building a culture of security awareness and preparedness within the organisation.

Conducting compliance audits of third-party service providers is beneficial. This ensures that these providers adhere to the same security standards and practices, thereby reducing the overall risk to the company.

The Information Technology Act, 2000

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000) is a law enacted by the Government of India to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as electronic commerce, which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information. It also aims to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the government agencies.

Key provisions of the IT Act, 2000 include

  1. Legal Recognition of Electronic Documents: It grants legal validity to electronic documents and digital signatures, making them admissible in courts as evidence.
  2. Digital Signatures: It provides a framework for the use of digital signatures, ensuring secure and authentic electronic transactions.
  3. Regulation of Certifying Authorities: It establishes a mechanism for the regulation of certifying authorities who issue digital certificates.
  4. Cybercrimes and Penalties: The Act defines various cybercrimes and prescribes penalties for them. These include hacking, unauthorised access to computer systems, data theft, and spreading of viruses.
  5. Offences Relating to Electronic Contracts: It addresses issues related to electronic contracts and provides a legal framework for their validity.
  6. Intermediary Liability: It sets out the responsibilities and liabilities of intermediaries, such as internet service providers, regarding third-party information or data.
  7. Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal: It provides for the establishment of a Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal to handle disputes and appeals related to the Act.

The IT Act, 2000 has been amended several times, most notably in 2008, to address evolving challenges in the field of cybersecurity and data protection. These amendments have introduced provisions for data privacy, cybersecurity, and penalties for breaches of personal data.

The IT Act plays a crucial role in the Indian legal framework by guiding the entire investigation process for cyber crimes. Key sections include:

Section 43 of the IT Act addresses individuals who commit cyber crimes, such as damaging a victim’s computer without their permission. If a computer is damaged without the owner’s consent, the owner is entitled to full compensation for the damage.

Section 66 applies to any actions described in Section 43 that are carried out dishonestly or fraudulently. Offenders can face imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh.

Section 66B describes the penalties for fraudulently receiving stolen communication devices or computers. Offenders may face a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh, depending on the severity of the offence.

Section 66C focuses on digital signatures, password hacking, and other forms of identity theft. Violations under this section can result in imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh.

Section 66D addresses cheating by personation using computer resources. Those found guilty can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh.

Taking, publishing, or transmitting pictures of private areas without a person’s consent is punishable under Section 66E. Penalties can include imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to Rs. 2 lakh.

Section 66F deals with acts of cyber terrorism. Individuals convicted under this section can face imprisonment for up to life. An example includes the case where a threat email was sent to the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange, challenging security forces to prevent a planned terror attack. The criminal was charged under Section 66F of the IT Act.

Section 67 involves the electronic publication of obscenities. Convicted individuals can face imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakh.

Cyber Crime Provisions In The Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 addresses a range of cyber crimes beyond its original scope of dealing with the sale of obscene materials. It now covers the electronic publication or transmission of obscene material, sexually explicit acts, or the exploitation of children. Offenders can face imprisonment of up to 2 years and fines of Rs. 2000. Repeat offenders may be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and fined up to Rs. 5000.

Under Section 354C of the IPC, cyber crimes related to privacy violations, such as taking or publishing pictures of private body parts or actions of women without their consent, are addressed. This includes acts of voyeurism, which involve watching a woman’s sexual actions without permission. Offenders can be imprisoned for up to 3 years for a first offence and up to 7 years for a repeat offence.

Additionally, Section 354D of the IPC deals with stalking, encompassing both physical and cyberstalking. Cyberstalking involves tracking a woman through electronic means, the internet, or email against her will or persistently attempting to contact her despite her disinterest. The punishment for cyberstalking includes imprisonment for up to 3 years for the first offence and up to 5 years for subsequent offences, along with fines imposed in both cases.

Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code deals with theft and carries a punishment of up to three years of imprisonment along with a fine. This section is applicable to cyber crimes involving stolen electronic devices, data theft, or stolen computers.

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Section 420 of the IPC addresses cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. Cyber criminals engaged in activities like creating fake websites or committing cyber fraud can face seven years of imprisonment and fines under this section. Crimes such as password theft for fraudulent purposes are encompassed within the scope of this section.

Under Section 463 of the IPC, which pertains to falsifying documents or records electronically, offenders engaged in activities like spoofing emails can face imprisonment of up to 7 years and/or fines.

Similarly, Section 465 of the IPC deals with forgery and its punishment. Cyber crimes involving the spoofing of emails or the creation of false documents in cyberspace fall under this section, with penalties including imprisonment of up to two years, fines, or both.

The overlap between provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology (IT) Act leads to varying legal treatments for similar offences. For instance, offences like hacking or data theft under sections 43 and 66 of the IT Act are bailable and compoundable, whereas IPC’s Section 378 offences are not bailable, and Section 425 offences are not compoundable. In cases of receipt of stolen property, the IT Act’s section 66B offence is bailable, contrasting with IPC’s Section 411, which is not. Similarly, offences like identity theft and cheating by personation under sections 66C and 66D of the IT Act are compoundable and bailable, unlike IPC’s Sections 463, 465, and 468, which are not compoundable, and Sections 468 and 420, which are not bailable.

The Role of Companies Act 2013 In Cybersecurity Compliance

The Companies Act of 2013 stands as a pivotal legal framework for managing daily corporate operations, with a strong emphasis on techno-legal requirements essential for compliance. Under this Act, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is empowered to investigate and prosecute serious frauds within Indian companies and among their directors. The enactment of the Companies Inspection, Investment, and Inquiry Rules in 2014 has further bolstered SFIO’s proactive stance in dealing with fraud. These rules ensure comprehensive coverage of regulatory compliances, including aspects of cyber forensics, e-discovery, and cybersecurity diligence. Additionally, the Companies (Management and Administration) Rules of 2014 establish stringent guidelines that outline the cybersecurity obligations and responsibilities of corporate directors and senior management, reinforcing the Act’s commitment to cybersecurity compliance.

Cybersecurity Framework And Its Benefits

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has endorsed the Cybersecurity Framework (NCFS) as a globally recognized certification, aimed at standardizing cybersecurity approaches. This framework encompasses guidelines, standards, and best practices crucial for managing cyber risks effectively. It prioritizes flexibility and affordability while emphasizing resilience and safeguarding critical infrastructure. Key measures of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework include understanding, managing, and reducing cybersecurity risks, preventing data loss and misuse, identifying critical activities for protection, providing evidence of organizational trustworthiness, optimizing cybersecurity ROI, meeting regulatory and contractual requirements, and enhancing overall information security programs. Combining the NIST CSF with ISO/IEC 27001 simplifies cybersecurity risk management and promotes collaboration within organizations and across supply chains, facilitating more efficient communication and coordination.

Significance Of Cyber Laws In Combatting Cyber Crimes

Cyber laws play a crucial role in prosecuting individuals engaged in illegal activities on the internet, such as cyber abuse, website assaults, data theft, and disruptions to online workflows. They provide a framework for effective legal action against offenders, taking into account their location and involvement in the violation. The prosecution or prevention of hackers is especially vital as many cyber crimes fall outside traditional felony definitions. Additionally, cyber laws address security concerns associated with internet use, safeguarding businesses and users from unauthorized access and malicious cyber-attacks. These laws offer various avenues for individuals and organizations to take action against those who violate cyber laws and commit criminal acts online.

Cyber laws hold immense significance in countries like India due to widespread internet usage, aiming to safeguard individuals and organizations against cybercrimes. Enacted to allow legal recourse for violations, cyber laws serve several crucial purposes.

  1. Stock Market Protection: With stock transactions in demat format, cyber laws protect against fraudulent activities, ensuring security for those involved in stock transactions.
  2. Data Protection for Companies: Given the prevalence of electronic records in Indian companies, cyber laws prevent misuse and safeguard sensitive data.
  3. Government Form Security: As government forms move online, cyber laws prevent hacking of portals and misuse of electronic forms like income tax and service tax returns, enabling legal action against offenders.
  4. Prevention of Financial Frauds: Cyber laws combat credit and debit card cloning, offering legal consequences under Section 66C of the IT Act for fraudulent electronic password use, thereby curbing financial frauds.
  5. Digital Signature and Contract Security: With business transactions relying on digital signatures and electronic contracts, cyber laws provide protection against misuse and fraudulent activities associated with these elements.

Building A Comprehensive Cybersecurity Strategy

A robust cybersecurity strategy hinges on fortifying an organization’s ecosystem, comprised of automation, interoperability, and authentication components. This approach shields against malware, attrition, hacks, insider threats, and equipment thefts, ensuring a safe and secure system.

An established framework for adhering to security standards not only guarantees compliance but also enables infrastructure updates and fosters collaboration between governments and businesses, enhancing overall security posture.

Additionally, Embracing open standards directly bolsters defenses against cyber threats, enabling seamless implementation of security measures for businesses and individuals. These standards not only promote enhanced security but also drive economic growth and innovation in technology.

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Furthermore, Promoting various IT measures such as end-to-end protection, association-based protection, link-based protection, and data encryption is essential in combating cybercrime effectively, safeguarding critical assets and data.

Governments can leverage e-governance to deliver online services, yet its potential remains underutilized in many regions. Cyber laws should evolve to support and expand e-governance, empowering citizens with greater control and accessibilit. Safeguarding crucial infrastructure like the electrical grid and data transmission lines is paramount in any cybersecurity strategy. Upgrading outdated infrastructure is key to mitigating cyber threats effectively.

Types Of Cybersecurity 

Application security focuses on safeguarding software applications from potential threats and unauthorized access by third-party attackers. This includes practices such as secure coding, regular software updates, and the implementation of application-level firewalls. Adhering to policies that block unauthorized traffic is crucial in preventing cyberattacks targeting applications.

While many apps are available for download from reputable platforms like Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Amazon App Store, totaling millions of applications, not all apps can be deemed completely safe. Despite seeming secure, some apps collect user information and share it with third parties without explicit consent. It’s essential to install apps from trusted sources and avoid third-party websites offering apps in the form of APK files.

Cloud security involves securing applications, data, and infrastructure hosted on cloud platforms, ensuring proper access controls, data protection, and regulatory compliance. With the rising popularity of cloud storage, major providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud offer robust security measures against diverse threats. These platforms enable secure data storage with accessible authentication from any device, although additional storage beyond basic offerings typically requires payment.

For instance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leading and widely adopted cloud service globally, providing comprehensive services from data centers across the world. Businesses ranging from startups to large enterprises and government agencies utilize AWS to reduce costs, enhance agility, and accelerate innovation while benefiting from robust security measures provided by the platform.

Public-sector cybersecurity is a specialized field dedicated to safeguarding networks, systems, and assets belonging to publicly owned infrastructure, including those owned by cities, regions, and entire countries. Its primary focus is on protecting critical services vital to public safety and well-being, such as water, power, transportation, and telecommunications. The significance of public-sector cybersecurity lies in its role in preventing cyberattacks that could cause widespread disruption and damage, impacting the general populace.

In addition to safeguarding critical services, public-sector cybersecurity is crucial for protecting the privacy and security of personal information. Public-sector entities often handle vast amounts of sensitive data, including social security numbers, credit card details, and medical records. A breach in public-sector cybersecurity could result in the unauthorized disclosure of this personal information, potentially leading to severe consequences for individuals. Hence, information security within the public sector is paramount, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data and information systems.

Motivations Behind Cyber Attacks And Common Attack Types

Cyber attackers typically operate with malicious intent, often driven by financial incentives. However, some individuals may also engage in cybercrime for political or personal motives, including insider threats seeking to harm the company they work for or advance their own interests. Common cyber attacks include password attacks, phishing scams, denial of service (DOS) attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and the distribution of malware. These attacks pose significant threats to the integrity and security of information systems, necessitating robust cybersecurity measures to mitigate risks effectively.

Essential Cybersecurity Requirements And Data Protection Strategies

Critical components of cybersecurity requirements include identification of all equipment, software, and data to be utilized, ranging from laptops and smartphones to tablets and POS devices. Ensuring the safe utilization of these resources is paramount to defend against cyberattacks effectively. Detection mechanisms must be in place to identify any cyber threats targeting this equipment, software, and data, facilitating prompt response measures by engaging cybersecurity experts to investigate and ascertain the source and motives behind the attack. Additionally, a robust data recovery strategy involving secure and reliable backup mechanisms, such as cloud storage or external hard drives, is essential post-cyberattack to restore data integrity. 

Data operates in three distinct states and they are data at rest, data in motion, and data in use, each requiring specific protection strategies. Focus areas for data protection include data security, safeguarding against malicious or accidental damage, data availability, enabling quick restoration from accidental loss or damage, and access control, ensuring data access is restricted to authorized individuals while maintaining confidentiality and integrity. These strategies collectively contribute to a comprehensive cybersecurity framework aimed at preserving the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical resources and data.


In the realm of advancing technology, the emergence of disturbing elements on the dark web has become a significant concern, as intelligent individuals exploit the internet for nefarious purposes, including financial gain. Consequently, the importance of cyber laws cannot be overstated, particularly in an era where cyberspace presents complex challenges and activities often fall into grey areas beyond legal governance. Both in India and globally, continuous upgradation and refinement of cyber laws are essential to match the evolving technological landscape, especially with the surge in remote work due to the pandemic, highlighting the critical need for application security. It is imperative for lawmakers to stay vigilant and ahead of cyber threats, collaborating with internet providers, banks, online platforms, and other stakeholders to combat cybercrime effectively. However, ultimate responsibility lies with users to actively engage in the fight against cyber threats, ensuring adherence to cyber laws for the growth of online safety and resilience.


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