Bitcoins or crypto currencies have become a favorite for cybercriminals in recent times as it provides them anonymity, non-traceable, decentralized, global reach, transact able digitally, fast, easy to transact, transaction cannot be reversed and finally not regulated by any government nor any international body. When there was a major fall in crypto currency price last couple of years, there was a noticeable decline in cybercrimes also.
In my last article, I had described what a Bitcoin is, how it is transacted, how different it is from RBI printed money and its advantages & risks. This week, I am going to talk about different types of cybercrimes done involving bitcoins or any crypto currency, how it is done, how one can protect himself from these crimes, what the victim can do next and available legal(Indian) remedies.
Many developed countries allow Bitcoin to be used, such as the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Several countries, including China and Saudi Arabia, have made it illegal to use Bitcoin. In India, Trading of cryptocurrencies is allowed in India and a tax of 30% is charged on them. However, the status of legal tender is not given to Cryptocurrencies and they cannot be used for banking purposes. India has come out with its own digital currency but it is different to a crypto currency.
Different cybercrimes involving bitcoins :-
Cybercriminals use bitcoins or any other crypto currency as the mode of payment or the object to steal in below cybercrimes:
1. Ransomware attack :- I had discussed this in detail in my previous article. Here the ransom demanded will mostly be in terms of bitcoins and the cybercriminals will give a digital address or string where the specified bitcoins are to be transferred to.
2. Distributed Denial-of-Service(DDoS) extortion : – Here cybercriminals bombard your website with so many distributed requests that it hangs or becomes so slow affecting every user of your website till ransom is paid, here they usually threaten or attack a single service to demonstrate their capability and will demand ransom in bitcoins to be deposited to specified digital address to prevent major attack.
3. CryptoJacking :- Cryptojacking is a type of cybercrime where a criminal, secretly uses a victim’s computing power to generate cryptocurrency. Cybercriminals send an email, messages with a link, and when someone clicks on it, their computer or the device can be accessible to them. Afterwards, they use these computers for mining bitcoins, resulting in slowing of your computer and increased electricity charges. Cryptojacking can affect digital devices such as smartphones, servers, computers or IoT devices.
4. Cryptocurrency Hacks :- Here cybercriminals infect your computing device with a malware by sending you a mail or message and then use that to steal your crypto wallet credentials or personal or financially sensitive information from your device.
5. Drugs, Extortion, Hired killing & Human trafficking :- Bitcoins have been the recent favorite currency for criminals involved in these activity for their transactions on the darkweb. Most of the exchange of money happens in crypto currencies like bitcoins by these cybercriminals.
6. Stealing registered user information :- The data provided by the user while registering to the numerous crypto wallet or crypto exchanges is sold as there are no regulations or compliance requirements that these companies are followed and that information is used for cybercrimes.
How to protect yourself from such crimes :-
- Never click on any hyperlinks in any message or email from strangers.
- If your computing device slows down without reason, then its possible that you may be a victim of cryptojacking.
- Use a good VPN, Antivirus and Adblocking software and keep it updated with latest patches.
- Keep your operating system and application upto date with latest updates and patches and take regular backups.
- Being wary of any opportunities that seem too good to be true.
- Use strong passwords for computers, mobile and IoT devices.
- Don’t install free apps from unofficial sources.
If you are a victim of free wifi cyber fraud :-
Immediately call 1930 cyber helpline or file a complaint at cybercrime.gov.in. If you have shared Aadhaar during that time, lock your Aadhaar card at uidai.gov.in and block your debit/credit cards and change passwords of your bank accounts. Uninstall new free apps you installed, still in doubt format or factory reset your device.
Remedies available to victim legally(India) :-
Lodge a complaint at nearby cyber or regular police station under :
- Section 378(Theft), Section 424(extract data illegally), Section 425(destruction of property), Section 441(criminal trespass) of IPC
- Section 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system, etc), section 66 (punishment for computer related offences – a person committing data theft, transmitting virus into a system, destroying data, hacking, or denying access to the computer or network to an authorized person is imprisoned for a maximum of 3 years or a fine of 5 lakh rupees or both), section 66C(which prescribes penalties for identity theft and states that anyone who fraudulently or dishonestly uses a person’s identity information will be subject to imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of up to 3 lakh rupees) and Section 66D (punishment for fraud by impersonation using computer resources), Section 66E(Violation of privacy)
Frequently Asked Questions :-
Who controls the Bitcoins?
How to make a complaint on Bitcoin crime?
1. Complete facts in brief about the incident.
2. Address of Bitcoin.
3. Amount of Bitcoin involved.
4. Address from/to whom purchase/sale of Bitcoins is done.
Why do people trust Bitcoin?
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