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My Email Account was Hacked!

By Shweta Mohandas July 29, 2016

My email account was hacked. Can I take legal action against the hacker?

 

If you ask me what one of my worst fears is today, I would say it is “this username and password does not match.” Every time I misspell my password I have this latent fear that my account has been hacked. We have all had friends posting on Facebook saying that their account has been hacked and the “hacker” has been posting things (often objectionable) from their profile.

 

With everyone realising the power of the Internet it has become nothing less than a second identity, and when this is stolen it is no less than theft. At times the email accounts get hacked by viruses and this is generic without any specific reason, for instance, just by clicking on a link a website starts posting on your behalf. These cases are of a less serious nature and a mere changing of passwords is enough. The real problem begins when the account is hacked by someone who does so with a mala fide intention, be it revenge, hatred or sadistic pleasure. It gets even more serious when the accounts of public figures get hacked and their confidential information is leaked or worse the hackers post on their behalf to the multitude of fans that take their word as gospel.

 

Now, how does an account get hacked? There are more ways than one to hack into an account, be it an email account or a social networking account. The first and the obvious would be, when one divulges his or her password to another person, this usually is one of the weapons people use for revenge. Forgetting to log out from public computers is another big factor. The more technologically based processes of hacking are that of Phising, Cookie Hijacking and Keylogging. Phishing is, when a person is made to provide information online about oneself (name, address, passwords, bank details etc.) on the faith that the information has been sought by a valid website, where in reality it is a fake one created in order to use the information provided, for identity theft. Cookie Hijacking is the process of using the user data stored in someone’s computer to get information about their online accounts. Keylogging, is a more sophisticated means of hacking, where the hacker with the use of certain software and hardware can know your passwords by the keys you type on your computer.

 

I got all this information from a not so difficult research, and there were even websites that showed how to hack. Hacking is much easier and simpler than it seems to be, and the internet provides all the help that you need. This is the reason that laws need to have a deterrent effect on the practice of hacking.

 

If you start to think that this post will just advice you to keep your password protected, then you are mistaken, because the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 does provide legal remedies to sue a hacker.

 

Section 66 of the Information Technology Act deals with the offence of ‘hacking with a computer system’. It starts with ‘whoever with the intention to cause or knowing that is likely to cause’, showing that mens rea is needed in order for this to be an offence .The act is of causing loss and damage wrongfully, to people in general or to a specific person in particular by altering any information without the person’s consent or knowledge .The accesses to the persons account must be secured by the dishonest means and should cause some serious injury to the victim. Sub-section (2) states that the punishment would be imprisonment of up to three years or a punitive fine of up to two lacks and or both. This shows that the Indian courts do take the crime of hacking very seriously and the harsh punishment is almost equivalent to theft.

 

       On similar lines Section 66C of the Act deals with the Punishment for identity theft. According to this section the dishonest use of an electronic signature[i] or password could result in imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to 3 years and fined up to 1lakh rupees.

 

On the question of where to file a complaint: most states have their cybercrime cell websites, where you can file a compliant, with the required documents. A simple Google search can help you to locate the contact details of the correct cyber crime cell that is designated for your jurisdiction.

 

If you think that the Indian legal system has not woken up to cyber crime then that opinion should be changed. The question is how effective is the crime control mechanism. There are laws, but is the police-force deft enough to combat terrorists who are up-to-date in cyber crime warfare? Can these same provisions apply to criminals that infiltrate government security systems and cause grave danger to the country?  With most of the classified data being processed online, the cyber cell has to be more alert and cautious in order to combat this new threat. Cyber crime is not just related to hacked Facebook accounts it goes much deeper and to graver incidents which can have far reaching consequences for an individual person or a nation as a whole. As for people like you and me we should keep our friends close and our online accounts closer.

 

 

 

[i] An electronic signature is something that binds the document sent to the person who sent it. An electronic signature can be anything from one’s name typed out or a virtual copy of one’s own signature.

My email account was hacked. Can I take legal action against the hacker?

 

If you ask me what one of my worst fears is today, I would say it is “this username and password does not match.” Every time I misspell my password I have this latent fear that my account has been hacked. We have all had friends posting on Facebook saying that their account has been hacked and the “hacker” has been posting things (often objectionable) from their profile.

 

With everyone realising the power of the Internet it has become nothing less than a second identity, and when this is stolen it is no less than theft. At times the email accounts get hacked by viruses and this is generic without any specific reason, for instance, just by clicking on a link a website starts posting on your behalf. These cases are of a less serious nature and a mere changing of passwords is enough. The real problem begins when the account is hacked by someone who does so with a mala fide intention, be it revenge, hatred or sadistic pleasure. It gets even more serious when the accounts of public figures get hacked and their confidential information is leaked or worse the hackers post on their behalf to the multitude of fans that take their word as gospel.

 

Now, how does an account get hacked? There are more ways than one to hack into an account, be it an email account or a social networking account. The first and the obvious would be, when one divulges his or her password to another person, this usually is one of the weapons people use for revenge. Forgetting to log out from public computers is another big factor. The more technologically based processes of hacking are that of Phising, Cookie Hijacking and Keylogging. Phishing is, when a person is made to provide information online about oneself (name, address, passwords, bank details etc.) on the faith that the information has been sought by a valid website, where in reality it is a fake one created in order to use the information provided, for identity theft. Cookie Hijacking is the process of using the user data stored in someone’s computer to get information about their online accounts. Keylogging, is a more sophisticated means of hacking, where the hacker with the use of certain software and hardware can know your passwords by the keys you type on your computer.

 

I got all this information from a not so difficult research, and there were even websites that showed how to hack. Hacking is much easier and simpler than it seems to be, and the internet provides all the help that you need. This is the reason that laws need to have a deterrent effect on the practice of hacking.

 

If you start to think that this post will just advice you to keep your password protected, then you are mistaken, because the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 does provide legal remedies to sue a hacker.

 

Section 66 of the Information Technology Act deals with the offence of ‘hacking with a computer system’. It starts with ‘whoever with the intention to cause or knowing that is likely to cause’, showing that mens rea is needed in order for this to be an offence .The act is of causing loss and damage wrongfully, to people in general or to a specific person in particular by altering any information without the person’s consent or knowledge .The accesses to the persons account must be secured by the dishonest means and should cause some serious injury to the victim. Sub-section (2) states that the punishment would be imprisonment of up to three years or a punitive fine of up to two lacks and or both. This shows that the Indian courts do take the crime of hacking very seriously and the harsh punishment is almost equivalent to theft.

 

       On similar lines Section 66C of the Act deals with the Punishment for identity theft. According to this section the dishonest use of an electronic signature[i] or password could result in imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to 3 years and fined up to 1lakh rupees.

 

On the question of where to file a complaint: most states have their cybercrime cell websites, where you can file a compliant, with the required documents. A simple Google search can help you to locate the contact details of the correct cyber crime cell that is designated for your jurisdiction.

 

If you think that the Indian legal system has not woken up to cyber crime then that opinion should be changed. The question is how effective is the crime control mechanism. There are laws, but is the police-force deft enough to combat terrorists who are up-to-date in cyber crime warfare? Can these same provisions apply to criminals that infiltrate government security systems and cause grave danger to the country?  With most of the classified data being processed online, the cyber cell has to be more alert and cautious in order to combat this new threat. Cyber crime is not just related to hacked Facebook accounts it goes much deeper and to graver incidents which can have far reaching consequences for an individual person or a nation as a whole. As for people like you and me we should keep our friends close and our online accounts closer.

 

 

 

[i] An electronic signature is something that binds the document sent to the person who sent it. An electronic signature can be anything from one’s name typed out or a virtual copy of one’s own signature.

TAG: hacking , legal procedure to sue , information technology act , Email , Section 66 of the Information Technology Act , IT Act , Keylogging , web , internet


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By Shweta Mohandas
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