Development of technology comes with its own set of side-effects. Time testifies that whenever a breakthrough in technology occurs, it simultaneously generates misappropriate use by malicious elements. With the global village increasingly moving towards digitisation in terms of development and accessibility, with added anonymity, it has facilitated criminals, terrorists and other anti-social elements raising various security concerns.

In such a situation, the law enforcement forces, which work under constitutional barriers, face a greater challenge of addressing and containing the anonymous crimes committed through digital channel. As expressed in the question hour of parliament earlier this year by Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, there are various security concerns that generate from the unprotected digital transactions.

The intensity of security concerns can be identified by the fact that there has been a consistent increase in cyber and digital crimes in the last few years. As per the data maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and quoted by Union minister of state for home, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, earlier this year, a total of 9,622, 11,592 and 12,317 cyber crime cases were registered in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Looking at the trend, the 2017-2018 report is expected to produce more terrifying results. But let us not be deceived by the numbers reported. They are just the tip of the iceberg.

Digital channels are increasingly being used by terrorists and anti-national elements to execute their propaganda and the law enforcement agencies are still grappling to find an effective investigative process to identify crimes committed through digital channels. Ministry of Home Affairs has, at several times, taken a firm stand on addressing these security concerns by enabling the law enforcement agencies with adequate knowledge of digital forensics.

digital forensics In an exclusive chat with The Voice of Nation, Rakesh Maheswari, who is leading a team of Cyber-Laws and E-Security experts under the ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, said, “Under the IT Act, the ministry is supposed to be notifying examiners of electronic evidence. So from Ministry’s perspective, as of today, four digital forensics labs have already been notified for the same. This has been the most recent development. Also, we are in the process of assessing few more labs so that in times to come the number grows.  From last two months, the number has risen from nil to four and hopefully in the coming months, the number is expected to grow to 10-15. This will set a base for credible digital forensics evidence offered or presented to the courts.”

“Further, there are 60-70 candidate labs which will be able to provide such notifications of credibility”

He pointed out that the major challenges that are being faced by the centre and state governments while building up the digital forensics infrastructure is rooted, firstly, in the recruitment process of the people. The people deployed in these labs were recruited for a different function but were used for other responsibilities. Hence, the challenge is to retrain them as per the need of the hour. Secondly, the availability of manpower in itself, and third being the availability of tools which need a continuous upgradation.

Mr. Maheswari also stressed that there is a need to acknowledge the importance of digital forensics by judicial and law enforcement system and inculcating the culture of digital forensics therein.

As it is evident, the triggering and training of the same is already in process, however, we still need to focus on developments in terms of fully equipping law enforcement agencies for limiting and addressing the rising security threats emerging from digital channels.