As information technology increases to become a more integral part of our lives, crimes associated with the cyber world are also increasing. The number of reported cybercrimes in India increased by more than 10-fold in the last ten years. Five states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana & Assam account for more than 2/3rd of these reported cybercrimes.
Over the past couple of decades, the reach of information technology has extended to many facets of our daily lives, becoming an integral part. However, as is the case with other aspects related to humans and society, cyber space is also prone to various crimes. Any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device, or any other related device can be considered a Cybercrime.
When compared to other types of crimes, Cybercrimes are more recent in nature and various new types of crimes are being committed in cyberspace. As such, Cyberlaw dealing with these crimes continues to evolve compared to the law dealing with more traditional crimes.
In India, cybercrimes are covered by the Information Technology Act and certain sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). There are also certain Special and Local Laws (SLL) under which few of the cybercrimes are covered.
In this series on Cybercrimes, we take a look into the trends relating to cybercrimes in India over the years. The data for analysis is taken from the collection of Datasets on Cyber Crimes available on Dataful, which is compiled from the National Crimes Record Bureau’s (NCRB) annual Crime in India (CII) reports.
In the first story of the series, we analyse the trends in overall Cybercrimes reported in the country over the years across States and Cities. As indicated above, cybercrimes in India are registered under the IT Act, certain sections of IPC, and specific SLLs.
Cybercrimes reported in a year increased by nearly 2.5 times in the Five years between 2017 & 2021
As is the case with other crimes, the numbers in NCRB’s CII report are based on the number of cases that are reported and may not necessarily reflect the number of crimes actually committed.
The latest information available is the CII report for the year 2021. As per the report, 52,974 cybercrime-related cases were reported in India for the year 2021. This includes crimes under IT Act, IPC, and SLLs. This is the highest number of cybercrimes reported in a year. There has been a considerable increase in the number of cybercrimes reported in recent years, especially starting in 2019.
In 2019, the number of cybercrimes reported was around 44.7 thousand, which was 1.5 times the crimes reported in the previous year i.e., in 2018. The number of cybercrimes reported crossed the 10 thousand mark in 2015 and since then, there has been a considerable year-on-year increase in the number of such crimes reported.
Karnataka and Telangana have a higher rate of Cybercrimes
The highest number of Cybercrimes reported during the period 2002 and 2021 was in Uttar Pradesh. More than 50 thousand cybercrimes were reported in the state during that period. The other states with the highest number of cybercrimes reported during this period are Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Assam. These 5 states account for more than 2/3rd of the total cybercrimes reported in the country during this period. Andhra Pradesh & Rajasthan are the other states with a higher number of cybercrimes reported.
As expected, Uttar Pradesh the state with the highest population in the country, is the state reporting the highest number of cybercrimes. In this context, the number of cybercrimes reported per 1 lakh population provides a better understanding of the crime rate and reporting.
For analysis, we took the mid-year projection of the population of states as per the CII report for 2021. It ought to be noted that the population projection considered was for the year 2021, while the crimes are a cumulative total for the period 2002 and 2021. However, this would provide a fair indication of the broader trend.
Apart from these two states being among the more developed states, they are also home to major IT hubs of Bengaluru and Hyderabad, which could have a bearing on the cybercrimes reported. A more effective mechanism to educate, identify & report cybercrimes can also be a factor in the higher reporting of cybercrime in these states higher cybercrime rate reported in these states.
Highest number of cybercrimes and crime rate reported in Bengaluru
During the period 2002 and 2021, nearly 37.6 thousand cybercrimes were reported in Bengaluru. This is nearly 83% of the total crimes reported in Karnataka during the same period. Among the 19 cities categorised as metropolitan cities in NCRB’s CII-2021 report, Bengaluru has the highest cumulative total of cybercrimes during the 20-year period between 2002 & 2021. During this period, Mumbai has the next highest number of reported cybercrimes followed by Hyderabad and Lucknow.
These cities are the capitals and major cities of the aforementioned States which have the highest number of cybercrimes reported during the period. As in the case of States, the number of crimes reported per lakh population is a better indicator of the extent of crime in a particular city.
The population figures of the cities provided in the NCRB’s CII report (based on the 2011 census) are considered to ascertain the number of cybercrimes per lakh population. Bengaluru also has the highest cybercrime rate. Around 442 cybercrimes per lakh population were reported during the 20-year period of 2002 & 2021. The next highest crime rate is in Lucknow followed by Jaipur and Hyderabad.
During the 20-year period being considered, the rationale of NCRB as to what constitutes a metropolitan city (earlier referred to as Megacity) has changed. Only the 19 cities being categorised as metropolitan cities in recent reports are being considered.
The number of cybercrimes reported in a state, or a city only indicates the geographical extent of where cybercrimes are more prevalent. A higher prevalence of crimes in major cities, which in turn reflects in the overall number of cybercrimes in specific states, is evident in a few of the cities like Bengaluru, Lucknow, and Hyderabad. However, the type of cybercrime committed can provide further details of the prevalence of cybercrimes in specific States or cities. In the second part of this series on Cybercrimes, we will take a look at the different types of cybercrimes reported under the IPC, IT Act, and SLLs.