The sixth cause is that tracking & tracing cyber offences is a challenge at best of times. Presently the security apparatus down to each and every police station and policeman is not equipped and geared to track and trace cyber offenders and sole cyber crimes effectively. Myriad agencies, networks and technological tools and software’s are involved and these are very difficult for average police personnel to comprehend, let alone utilize to solve such offences. It is only with time, training & investment of huge monetary and other resources that the situation will improve but till then way too much damage would have been inflicted.
Another factor aiding this ominous situation is the Trans-Border nature of cyber crime. There are a variety of crimes that occur in the virtual world that have a trans-border character. This means that the criminal is physically residing in a different country from the target of his crimes. Names such as “Nigerian 319 Fraud” and “Russian Wife Scam” clearly indicate this international character of cyber offences. This itself creates great hurdles in the effective investigation of cyber crimes. Once international jurisdictions get involved, lengthy court and diplomatic proceedings result and this greatly reduces the chances of a successful and speedy investigation and prosecution. And this is common sense that if the offenders are not brought to book and convicted, combating and controlling that crime becomes almost impossible.
Another aspect of the cyber world that itself inhibits its proper patrolling and regulation is the existence of the Dark Web. This is the content that exists on dark nets, overlay networks that use the public internet but require specific software, configuration or authorization to access. This is the region in which criminals reside and where all sort of criminal activities take place, hidden from the eyes of security agencies and the common users at large. All types of contra brand items Article by: Varun Kapoor, IPS – ADG Narcotics & PRTS Indore (MP) Page 2 are freely available here – be it illegal arms, drugs, wildlife articles etc. Payment is made in form of virtual money called “Bitcoins”. This Dark Web is extremely difficult to infiltrate let alone monitor and consequently it is also extremely difficult to nab the offenders working in its dark labyrinths.
Another technological challenge that is inhibiting effective cyber crime control is the increasing use of TOR networks and browsers by highly skilled cyber criminals. TOR stands for “The Onion Router”. This is literally a network within a network, like peels of an onion skin. You remove one and you are faced with another. That is how these TOR networks mask the identity (location & Usage) of the actual user through a maze of more than seven thousand relays. These were made to provide privacy to the user by providing him the facility to conduct confidential communication away from the prying eyes of internet monitoring. However today such TOR networks are increasingly being used by criminals and terrorists to further their nefarious designs. Such networks are extremely difficult to crack for a common security officer and require expert assistance and execution.
Proxy Servers are also presenting challenges to the security apparatus that is battling cyber crime. These proxies are used to circumvent firewalls and to hide the actual IP addresses, so that the user cannot be directly traced. Again a feature designed for a good cause like sharing internet connections or speeding up surfing etc, but now being increasingly used for criminal activities on the net.
Another looming challenge is the concept of Multiple IP addresses. Originally a user’s “digital footprints” could be traced by their individual IP address as it was considered unique. But now with the limited band width available and the ever increasing number of users, the service providers are constrained to provide multiple users the same IP at a particular time. Out goes the unique IP for a users at a particular point of time and in comes greater challenge for tracking and tracing cyber offenders. The tracking and tracing can be done, only that it has become much more tedious and time consuming and requiring a much higher degree of skill than that available with an average cop.
Thus the battle to tame cyber criminals goes on and as technology advances, so do the criminal capabilities and so does the police’s attempt to counter them at all cost. Police and criminals were always involved in a cat and mouse game – only it has got a lot tougher for the “cat” now to catch the “mouse” – but we all hope and try our best to ensure that the CAT (aka the Police) come out on top.