A guide for the Karnataka police

How to lock down the ‘best’ Indian cybercriminal?

While it is clear that more needs to be done, misguided proposals – like that of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Home Affairs, which seeks to “reduce cybercrime” by banning VPN services in India – are certainly not the answer. Virtual private network is a protected network connection.

Banning VPN services, which can sometimes be used to slow down cybercriminals, will not ensure cybercrime prevention. Why? Sriki could still have learned all the skills he did and performed the hacks he allegedly performed despite a VPN ban, using other anonymity services, like the Tor browser.

In this regard, the establishment of an investigative agency similar to the REACT task force in the United States might be ideal. The task force was established in 1997 by the California Department of Justice as a partnership of local, state, private, and federal agencies across the country. The task force, in recent years, has helped investigate and prosecute many high-tech offenders.

Meanwhile, in Karnataka, cybercrime police and other investigative agencies are still struggling to find enough forensic evidence that could help them prosecute Sriki. Shouldn’t more cybercrime experts be consulted to prove his guilt if he is indeed a cybercrime mastermind?

For example, users who are concerned about the safety of their funds could withdraw the cryptocurrency they have stored with third-party services and exchanges. In the case of trading platforms, as soon as a transaction is made, funds should be immediately transferred to a wallet under the direct control of the user, preferably to a hardware wallet or a paper wallet.

While the process of transferring funds out of third-party exchanges comes with some fees, it may very well be a price to pay in keeping your funds safe.

As for Sriki, the investigation needs to be stepped up, perhaps by calling on expertise that the agencies may lack. The investigation must also be transparent so that it leads to a conviction.

(Karan Saini is a security researcher and public service technologist based in Bangalore.)

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