The Karnataka government will soon release a state-wide cybersecurity policy, Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwathnarayan announced on October 5. He cited increased digitisation of government operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for improving cybersecurity within the government. Evolving a state cybersecurity policy was one of the goals of the IT Policy (2020-2025) that the state government had released on September 7.

“The new cybersecurity policy would be framed to address the needs of the citizens, industry, students as well as the state government,” he said as per comments translated by the News Minute. Citing Bengaluru’s position as India’s IT hub, he said that the city is a natural favourite of cyber criminals, thus creating a need for government organisations and employees to be more cyber aware.

Ashwathnarayan’s announcement comes a few weeks after Tamil Nadu released its own cybersecurity policy.

The deputy chief minister, who is also the state’s IT minister, was inaugurating October as the cybersecurity awareness month at an event organised by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society (KITS) within the state’s Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology. At a national level too, the National Cyber Security Strategy is expected this month, National Cyber Security Coordinator Lt Gen. (Dr) Rajesh Pant had said in September.

In May, the government had established H.A.C.K., a cybersecurity accelerator, that would be housed within the IISc. It is reportedly the first such accelerator for cybersecurity start-ups.

Karnataka reported highest number of cybercrimes: NCRB data

According to crime statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2019,

  • Karnataka reported the highest number of cybercrimes in 2019 — 12,020 — accounting for a whopping 27% of all cybercrimes reported in the country. It was followed by Uttar Pradesh which accounted for 25.6% of all cyber crimes.
  • Karnataka also had the highest rate of cybercrimes per one lakh of population — 18.2; Telangana was a distant second with 7.2. In metropolitan cities, Bengaluru led the pack with 10,555 crimes and a crime rate of 124.2. Mumbai was a distant second with 2,527 crimes, but the crime rate was second highest in Lucknow (43.5).
  • Expectedly, Bengaluru accounted for a bulk of all cases registered in Karnataka.
  • Interestingly, while Karnataka had the maximum number of computer-related offences in the country, it ranked very low on IPC crimes such as cheating and fraud crimes related to ATMs, online banking, OTPs, cheating, forgery, fake profiles, etc. Maharashtra led the charge here. However, fraud was the motive in 94.7% (11,381) of all cybercrime cases in Karnataka.
  • Karnataka reported 73 cybercrimes against women; these crimes included publishing/transmitting sexually explicit material (Section 67A, 67B of the Information Technology Act), blackmailing, defamation, morphing, creating fake profiles. Of the 19 metropolitan cities with population more than 2 million, Bengaluru accounted for maximum number of women-centric cybercrimes — 52.
  • Karnataka reported 10 cybercrimes against children, third in the country after Uttar Pradesh (65) and Kerala (30). Of the 19 metropolitan cities with population more than 2 million, Bengaluru reported the highest number of cybercrimes against children — 8.

According to the NCRB data, registration of cybercrimes increased by 63.5% between 2018 (27,428 cases) and 2019 (44,546) in the country. Most cases (60.4%) were fraud related by 5.1% were related to sexual exploitation and 4.2% to “causing disrepute”.

Metropolitan cities, however, saw an 81.9% increase in registration of cybercrimes — from 10,098 cases in 2018 to 18,372 cases in 2019. Computer-related offences under Section 66 of the IT Act accounted for 75.2% (13,814) such cases in 2019.

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