New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revealed that India faced a massive cybersecurity challenge during the G20 Summit, which was held in Rome, Italy, from October 30 to 31, 2023. The official website of the summit, which was launched by India as the host of the next G20 Summit in 2024, received 16 lakh cyber attacks within the first 60 seconds of its launch. This means, on average, more than 26,000 attacks were reported in one second.
DDoS attacks target G20 website
The cyber attacks were of the Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) type, which is a form of cybercrime that inundates a server with internet traffic, hindering user access to online services. The attacks were aimed at disrupting the functioning of the website and preventing the users from accessing the information and updates related to the summit.
Rajesh Kumar, the CEO of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the MHA, spoke to the media on Wednesday and acknowledged a subsequent dip in the attack volume, but highlighted the challenges in establishing the sources of these attacks. He said that the attacks were coming from different locations and using different techniques, making it difficult to trace the origin country or source.
The I4C is the nodal agency for tackling cybercrime in India, collaborating with the central and state investigation and intelligence agencies. It also provides technical and operational support to law enforcement agencies and coordinates with international agencies for cross-border cybercrime matters.
Cyber frauds on the rise in India
Kumar also shared the data on the cyber-enabled financial frauds in India at the first annual press conference of I4C. He said that the eastern and southern parts of the country are hubs of such frauds, which involve duping the victims through various online platforms and methods.
According to the data, customer care numbers, refund-based frauds, KYC, expiry, etc. accounted for 35% of the frauds, sextortion, which the officer said mainly originated from Mewat in Haryana, accounted for 24%, and online booking and fake franchise QR-code based financial frauds accounted for 22% of the total cyber frauds originated in India.
He also said that investment frauds (38%) from outside the country topped the chart, followed by illegal loan lending apps (23%) and gaming apps (21%). He said that around 50% of the cyber attacks are being committed by “gangs” operating from Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and other countries. He said that India is in touch with these countries regarding the fraud.
October reported the highest cases
The MHA data also showed that October saw the maximum number of complaints of online financial fraud in 2023. The officer said that 1,38,258 complaints were reported in October, followed by December. The number was the lowest in January 2023, which is almost half of the October data. Around Rs 10,300 crore has been siphoned off from the country by cybercriminals since April 1, 2021. Kumar told the media that 15.56 lakh cases were reported on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) in 2023.
The data also revealed the cybercrime trends in India. On average, more than 5,000 cyber complaints were registered per day, the data showed, with a 60.9% rise last year, compared to 13.7% from 2021 to 2022. The number of complaints has risen at least 500%, from close to 2.57 lakh complaints in 2020 to 15.56 lakh in 2023. The data also showed that states such as Haryana, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and Goa topped in reporting cybercrimes, while Chandigarh reported the highest number of cases in union territories.
Rs 1,127 crore of 4.3 lakh victims saved
The swift action by the I4C helped save Rs 1,127 crore of 4.3 lakh victims, while at least 50,000 are being assisted. The amount saved has risen almost 800% in one year. The I4C has also launched a helpline number, 1930, for the victims of cyber fraud, which provides immediate assistance and guidance. Last year, 12,12,063 calls related to financial fraud on the helpline were answered as of December 2023.
Websites, and apps blocked
The I4C has also taken steps to block the websites and apps that are involved in cybercrimes, especially those that target Indians from abroad. While Chinese loan and betting apps are still being used to lure Indians, at least 2.95 lakh SIM cards were blocked in 2023. According to the data, I4C also successfully blocked 2,810 websites, 595 mobile apps and 46,229 IMEI numbers. Kumar said that more than 263 banks, e-commerce companies, and others have been integrated to control cybercrimes.