AISS 2015: Workshop on Cybercrime Investigation & Challenges

workshop

DSCI’s Annual Information Security Summit (AISS) tagline ‘India Meets for Security’ says it all. It is THE conference for cyber security in India. This year AISS crossed a major milestone, being the tenth edition. Like the previous years, the day before the Summit is exclusive for workshops on specific topics covering technical, legal and policy related matters.  We began including cybercrime related sessions as part of the AISS since 2010.

Internal team discussions at DSCI regarding on drafting the agenda began early July this year and we planned a policy workshop on cybercrimes focusing on the matters like investigation and jurisdictional challenges. I was made the session owner. It was an arduous, but deeply satisfying experience. As we got closer to the conference, we kept feeling more and more confident as many prominent speakers confirmed their participation. The profile of the participants who registered to attend this workshop was also very encouraging. Officials from Law Enforcement, Investigation teams from IT industry and the legal fraternity enrolled to make the workshop run full house.

The workshop commenced with the welcome address by Mr Nandkumar Saravade, CEO, DSCI who brings in two decades of experience of being a member of elite Indian Police Service in his earlier career. Mr Alexander Seger, Head of Cyber Crime program, Council of Europe traveled to India specially for participating in the DSCI Summit. In his keynote address, he stressed upon the approach of the Council of Europe for setting up cooperation on cybercrime and electronic evidence through the Budapest convention. The sheer scale and volume of cybercrime, myriad devices, users and victims pose a growing challenge to the law enforcement community across the world. He argued that the Budapest Convention as the most realistic framework for establishing linkages for international cooperation.

The concept of jurisdiction in cyber space is very hard to fathom. Law enforcement agencies are authorized to enforce the law within their geographical jurisdictions and extradition of criminals is difficult at best, and often impossible. The countries which have signed extradition treaties also find that the assistance in criminal matters is usually a time-consuming process.

Mr Krishna Sastry Pendyala, a former forensic scientist from the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Ministry of Home Affairs, currently heading the Digital Forensics and Fraud management at Tata Consultancy Services highlighted the challenges faced by the IT industry in handling the cybercrime related incidents. He opined that companies are not fully geared to prevent and respond to cyber incidents and mentioned that an information sharing mechanism through public-private-partnership model was essential.

The first panel discussion was chaired by Mr. Nandkumar Saravade, with Mr. Rakesh Aggarwal IGP, National Security Guard and Mr. Vineet Kumar Goyal IGP, West Bengal Police as panellists. Mr. Saravade gave an insight into the domestic and legal challenges faced by the law enforcement officials and IT industry in handling cybercrimes.

Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, a Chevening scholar in Cyber Security policy, highlighted the issues related to management, legal, social and technology aspects of handling the cybercrimes. He felt that there is a dire need of establishing special courts to handle the cybercrime cases in India.

The issues related to lack of understanding of technology by the SHO (Station House Officers) of police stations located in rural areas were discussed by the other panelist Mr. Vineet Kumar Goyal IPS,  an IIT alumnus and the CISO of West Bengal Government.

By now, it was amply clear that crafting an effective response to cybercrime is very complex. The diverse audience kept raising many questions and the speakers enlightening it with specific replies.

Well, time for a tea break!

During the tea break, I could see the participants engaged in deep conversation with the panelists sharing their opinions about the discussions had till now. And based on the interim feedback received, delegates felt that it was a great learning opportunity for them.

With not much effort, the participants reassembled the room facing forward for the next panel discussion on   Instruments for International Cooperation in Effective Investigation. This panel discussion was chaired by Mr Rama Sastry IGP, National Investigation Agency, New Delhi with other panelists Mr. Sai Manohar, Deputy Director, Coordination, Central Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Alexander Seger and Mr. Vakul Sharma, Advocate Supreme Court.

Mr Rama Sastry set the context to the discussion by highlighting the state of cybercrime cases being described in India referring to the recent statistics report released by the NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau). Mr Sai Manohar described the US legal framework and presented an interesting insight into the multinational nature of cybercrimes and test of jurisdiction for location of data. He highlighted that foreign governments file, approximately 3,000 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) requests each year in the US and a significant percentage of those petitions are for data held by US providers. Mr. Vakul Sharma, a well-known lawyer practicing cyber laws in Supreme Court and an authority on cyber laws, deliberated on the constitutional issues that is preventing India from signing the Budapest convention.

The workshop ended after interactive discussion with the panelists, exchanging the interesting ideas and actionable insights such as getting to the  MLAT mechanism simpler, more flexible and updated to meet the need of the hour. DSCI will be working to continue the dialogue and help the ecosystem evolve to meet present and emerging challenges.

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