Cyber Space: Opportunities and Threats by eggheadedram

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									Cyber Space:
Opportunities and
Cyber space: It is not only an
information superhighway, it
has now become a battle
field where the netizens
who use internet in a respo-
nsible manner have to fight
against the rogue elements
bent of creating problems.

VRC Reddy
First Edition: Jan 2010

The author claims copyrights over the content. Any
mass production of the text is prohibited.

Author : Ramachandra Reddy V

Address : Department of Science and Humanities
          ANURAG Engineering College

              Table of Contents

Chapter 1 the Universe and the Web        7-15

Chapter 2 the empowerment of the          16-27


Chapter 3 Internet-The double edged sword 28-34

Chapter 4 an attempted Cyber Crime        35-68

Chapter 5 precautions needed to protect   69-100


              Internet Security
    “The only system which is truly
  secure is one which is switched off
  and unplugged, locked in a titanium
lined safe, buried in a concrete bunker,
  and is surrounded by nerve gas and
 very highly paid armed guards. Even
  then I wouldn’t stake my life on it”
            fessor Eugene H. Spafford

      a professor of computer science at Purdue
   ( is
 University and a leading computer security expert)

                      FORE WORD

Well I’m not a technocrat and I know very little about
the intricacies of technology. But as an active netizen, I
have been observing the cyber space for the last one
decade. This book is based on my observations during
these ten years. While you learn a programming
language it demands logical intelligence from you, but
when a person like me browses Internet he/she keeps
on exploring the net as the screen displays something
new every second. Humans by nature need something
new every time. If you take newspapers every day you
get a new copy and that is the main reason behind so
many people getting fascinated by newspapers. It
arouses curiosity among the readers and they wait for
the newspaper boy to serve the paper at the door steps.
Some of the readers may even feel somewhat anxious
if there is any delay, in its serving. In case of Internet it
offers something new every minute or even every
second. That is why so many people are fascinated by
the Cyber space. For me the screen of my machine
looks like a river from where there is a ceaseless flow
of information which, sometimes… I find extremely
difficult to manage. There is so much to download but

you would not be left with any time to read all that
content. So from lack of information we traversed to a
stage where there is abundance of information. But the
access to this information is highly uneven creating a
digital divide. More over it is human tendency to
misuse the resources and facilities for wrong purposes.
The main reason behind this misuse is, in our society
people are growing knowledgeable but they lack
wisdom and discipline. So they often use their skills
for destructive purposes and put others to lot of
inconvenience. Here cyber crime comes into picture.
Hacking, injecting malware, denial of service attacks,
hate mail, pornography, piracy and identity theft have
all become a cause of concern for society as well as the
governments. So governments all over the world are
enacting cyber laws and training cyber forensic experts
to curb the internet related crimes. As internet related
crimes are very sophisticated and it is very difficult to
find out the origin of the crime the cyber criminals,
most of the times go scot free. This book is an effort to
bring about awareness in cyber security among the
netizens, so that safe computing practices become a
way of life for us and enable us to escape the adverse
impact of cyber crime on our society and the country.

                    Chapter 1:
Internet… it is a double edged sword. On the one hand
it is the information superhighway, the treasure house
of knowledge, but on the other hand a net worked
computer…I mean a computer connected to World
Wide Web is the most dangerous thing and we have to
                          be ever vigilant in order to
                          protect    ourselves     from
                          deception. It is the most
                          amazing inventions of the
                          21st century. When you sit in
                          front of a networked
                          computer you feel as if you
          Cyber Space
                          are so powerful, because we
have access to infinite amount of information at our
disposal. Once a person gets addicted to it he feels
powerless when he is offline. Gone are the days when
you would go to a big library and refer to many books
or pursue experts to know the things, to acquire
knowledge and to widen your horizons. Now they are
all not required. You can comfortably sit in your study

and connect your machine to the web and with the help
of browsers and search engines we can gain access to
the millions of websites in the world. We humans have
borders and need passports and visas to cross the
international borders. But a networked computer
doesn’t have any borders. It created a borderless world.
It made distances narrow.

With the help of your networked computer you can not
only gain knowledge, but even share your knowledge
with the world. Because you can not only download
the information that is available on net, you can even
upload the information you have generated. So in a
way it is facilitating the sharing of knowledge.

When you go online you find information in many
forms and formats- documents, e books, podcasts and
videos. So you need not learn things in the same old
boring way. You can educate yourself through
edutainment. Multimedia- text, audio and video are
combined to make our learning easy. As the saying
goes, a picture says thousand words. Imagine a video
clipping with some text embedded in it and featuring
audio… how effective it would be! So edutainment
makes your learning enjoyable. To access all this

information there is so much of software available on
the web. Though the premium versions of this software
cost, basic versions are all free. We have down loaders
and up loaders like Real Player, VLC Player, IDM
(Internet Download Manager) etc. to download and
save the content to our HDD. There are many file
hosting websites which enable us to share our
knowledge by uploading our own content.

Gone are the days when you befriended only the
persons in your neighborhood or in the nearby village,
town or city. Now by going online you can make
friends all over the world.

The astronomers say that we do not know where
exactly the Universe starts and where does it end. The
same is the case with Web. Millions of computers are
interconnected and unlimited quantity of information is
passing through underwater sea cables and other wired
and wireless networks.

Optical Fiber Cable- a great invention of the 21st
century which transmits data in the form of light rays
lets the data travel through it at a lightening pace. So

e mail has emerged as the fastest mode of

Normally if we have the habit of reading a newspaper,
we wait for the newspaper boy to serve the printed
version at your door steps and at times you feel
anxious if the delivery gets delayed. It’s just like
morning coffee. Coffee and your printed version of
newspaper- they go together. But not anymore. If you
have a networked computer you can type the URL of
your favorite newspaper and read it free, that too
without waiting for the newspaper boy. Normally
websites run by newspapers update by 4am. The
information that features in the website is same as the
information that is printed in the print version. So you
don’t miss anything. So you can save on newspaper
subscription. If you have a net worked computer you
can read not just one newspaper but all the newspapers
in the world. You get to know what is happening in US
by logging on to to read the USA
Today the largest circulated newspaper in US. You can
even read The Washington Post, The New York Times,
The Wall Street Journal etc. If you want to know what
is happening in the Middle East you can log on to the

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prestigious and widely available newspaper The
Jerusalem Post If you want to know
what is happening in the African continent you can log
on to one of the top ten English language newspapers
in Africa published from Johannesburg, The Times at . In Asia you can logon to to read the world’s largest circulated
newspaper ‘The Times of India’ which is incidentally
an Indian newspaper. You can even read financial
dailies, magazines by downloading them from some
websites which allow you to download free e books in
PD (Portable Document) format. So by going online
and reading different newspapers we can always keep
abreast of what is happening all over the world. In fact
in western countries newspapers are facing the problem
of reduced subscriptions and falling circulation of their
print versions and their websites started receiving more
number of hits.

One of the main reasons for Indian newspaper ‘The
Times of India’ acquiring the status of world’s largest
circulated daily is, at a time when western newspapers
are concerned with dwindling circulation as a result of
deep penetration of Internet, the people of India where

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the Internet penetration in
very low still opt for print

Coming to text books and
journals         there       are
revolutionary          changes
happened. That is e book
revolution. This author being
an ardent book lover visited
some book exhibitions in            Amazon Kindle an eBook reader in
Hyderabad, Vijayawada and            which you can store thousands of
                                   eBooks and read them just like as you
Chennai. When we find an                   read a printed book

interesting title we feel like owning a copy. But when
we look at the blurb to find out the price we develop
cold feet, because buying printed copies of books is
prohibitively expensive. Recently I bought a book
which is priced at Rs/- 695. I badly needed that book
for my research. On that day unable to decide whether
to buy or not, I would visit the stall, have a look at that
book, read some pages and get back. I did it four or
five times, as my finances were already under pressure
in these days of inflation. But at last after prolonged
bargaining I managed to negotiate a discount of 15%

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where a uniform 10% discount is offered in all the
stalls of the book fair. When I was staying in
Hyderabad around five years ago, my favorite place in
Hyderabad was the sultan bazaar. On Sundays I would
enjoy walking along the pavements to look for good
                                        picks from the second
                                        hand books displayed on
                                        the empty pavements.
                                        Sometimes I would even
                                        go for pirated books
                                        though I’m well aware
                                        that it is not legally and
                                        ethically right thing to do.
                                        On the one hand I can’t
                                        resist my temptation to
                                        own a book and read it;
                                        on the other hand the
                                        meager amount of money
The latest issue of Scientific American
                                        I would make would not
available as a free download            permit me to go for
genuine versions. Once I got fascinated by the titles
that were on display- The God of Small Things by
Arundhati Roy and Made in Japan by Akio Morita at a
stall where they would sell pirated copies. I got them at

                                                        13 | P a g e
a very cheaper price and they were indeed good reads.
But throughout my reading I entertained a feeling of
guilt in my mind as I was reading pirated copies. But
you no longer need to undergo these hardships. You
can go online, and search for your favorite books by
logging on to websites like,,, etc
which allow you to download the books that you like.
They are available in various formats like Plain Text,
PDF, DjvU, Microsoft Reader, etc.

The new trend is, many of the books are read and
recorded by volunteers and these are termed as audio
books. You can download these audio books from
websites like You can copy
these audio books into your MP3 player in your cell
phone and listen to them even when you are
comfortably lying down on your bed or on travel.
Another thing is Podcast. These podcasts are available
in audio and even in video format. In order to
download these podcasts you need to install a software
called I tunes from Apple software. If your cell phone
features video player you can even watch these videos
when you are on the move. So you can use your cell

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phone to improve your knowledge instead of using it
for empty blabbering with the so-called friends. These
days many of the cell phones come with high-
resolution cameras. Once I used Nokia N73 phone to
take a photograph of Koya youth who live in
Khammam district of Andhrapradesh. They are the
hunter gatherer tribe, but their lifestyle is rapidly
changing in line with the changes taking place in this
21st century. I uploaded the
photograph       onto     the
Wikipedia the largest online
encyclopedia which is a
virtual treasure house of
knowledge to which most of
the knowledge seekers turn
to, to gather information on
                                     Online shopping
various topics. So you can
even contribute to the widening knowledge horizons by
sharing your work. In fact I’m a volunteer contributor
to the Wikipedia. So you can not only acquire
knowledge but even share your knowledge by going

                                             15 | P a g e
Another important thing about Internet is it has made
online shopping very easy. We need not go to a brick
and mortar shop any longer, instead shop for the
products we need by comfortably seated before the
screen. There are many e commerce websites like, eBay etc. to buy the products online. If
you want to buy a book you can log on to and search for the book you need
by using the search engine, sample read the book, place
an order to own a copy and make the payment by using
your plastic card. The product would be delivered at
your door steps. So it is very easy but at the same time
if we don’t play safe it may be counterproductive. So
we need to act very carefully.

                     Chapter 2:
The web has empowered the people. Before the
emergence of the web some powerful people, the so
called experts would dictate the terms for the ordinary
people. In a way they would impose their ideas on the
general public. The common man would silently read
                                              16 | P a g e
all that stuff and he would feel elated if he liked it or
would feel sad, frustrated and angry as he did not have
any means to express all his emotions in case he did
not like what he read.

The newspapers for various reasons do not give
importance to the reader’s opinions. The Indian media-
most of the print media and even the electronic media
is highly biased and they openly take sides. For
example The Hindu which is considered to be a
prestigious newspaper in South India is run by a former
SFI activist by name N.Ram. So it gives lot of
weightage to the communist ideology and takes special
interest in planting the news about communists.
Another newspaper Deccan Chronicle is actually
owned by a politician by name Mr. T. Venkatrami
Reddy who is a member of INC. Mr.Ramoji Rao who
owns the vernacular daily Eenadu is a king maker and
he has proven abilities to remove or install his men on
the chair of power. The newly established Sakshi
newspaper is actually a handout to serve the political
interests of a particular family and is deceiving people
by planting news selectively and there by misleading
people. Even its origins are very dirty. Now it became

                                               17 | P a g e
a well known fact that it emerged from the cesspool of
illegal mines owned by some unscrupulous people. The
same is the case with even the other newspapers. At
national level the world’s largest circulated newspaper
The Times of India implants news selectively and tries
to influence the politics. One of the popular political
magazines The Outlook is almost owned by INC. Of
course, there are a few exceptions like The Indian

So we the readers can’t expect unbiased reporting from
them. They give very little space to the reader’s
opinions. They rarely publish the letters which point
out the biased attitude of the editorial board. So we
can’t expect much from them. But in case of web, it is
for all. We can freely express our views and there is
                  enough     space     for    everyone.
                  Suppressing      the   freedom     of
                  expression by banning books is no
                  longer possible.

                  When the Mumbai born Indian
                  author Salman Rushdie wrote The
                  Satanic Verses the whole Islamic
                  world reacted in a furious manner.

                                             18 | P a g e
People in large numbers took to streets and carried out
protest demonstrations. I wonder how many of them
knew what exactly Salman Rushdie had written.
Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme religious head of the
theocratic state Iran issued a fatwa (a religious edict
which is supposed to be followed by all the faithful in
Islam) ordering the killing of Rushdie. Unfortunately
India, which boasts of its democracy and freedom of
expression, imposed a ban on the book even before
some of the Arab countries did so. It is all because
Indian politicians want Muslim votes. They have
always considered Muslims as vote bank and whatever
demands they make especially religious, our politicians
bog down under pressure and meet their demands.

But those days are over. In the cyber space where
boundaries are erased nobody can control the spread of
knowledge and awareness. Now the banned book The
Satanic Verses is widely available on the internet and it
is a free download. They even released an audio
version and made it available free online.

When Danish cartoonists published some cartoons on
Prophet Muhammad, again the Islamic world was up in
arms and many people died in the riots all over the

                                               19 | P a g e
world. This aroused the curiosity of the people
throughout the world and many people wanted to know
what were those cartoons that triggered extreme
reaction from Muslim community. Many foreign
newspapers republished the cartoons, but no Indian
newspaper could muster up enough courage to do so.
But on Internet, there emerged a new website by name          which
published all the cartoons drawn by the Danish
cartoonists. Then the people got to know what exactly
that made the Islamic world turn so furious. In India
the media; both print and electronic media is highly
biased and many a time they suppress the facts and try
to keep the public in dark. But when we go online
someone posts the news on Internet, and we get to
know about it.

                                             20 | P a g e
These days blogs and personal websites have become
so popular. In fact every newspaper runs a blog in its
web version. There are so many websites which
provide blogging service to their visitors. So you can
express your views freely. Till now the newspapers
deceived the public by imposing their own ideas in the
name of columns written by the so called experts. But
to understand simple things in the society you don’t
require borrowing the opinions of the so-called experts.
In this cyber age everybody can express his/her views
whether he/she is an expert or not. Of course when
somebody posts something on the web others
immediately react to that and they counter it by posting
their    own
opinions. So
a debate gets
triggered and
a wide range
of opinions
come to fore.
This        is
far     better
than      the    The Home Page of my Blog on BRITISH COUNCIL BBC website

                                                            21 | P a g e
opinions of the so-called experts who try to impose
their views on people. So these self proclaimed experts
try to exercise some kind of psychological control over
the masses. This is no longer possible. Even the
websites owned by the newspapers are forced to
provide space to the opinions of the readers. In the
websites run by prestigious newspapers like The New
York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The
USA Today, The Times of India we find a box under
each and every news item, into which the readers can
key in their opinions after they read it. Of course it is
not possible to make each and every opinion live, but
at least the well written and balanced opinions are
made live so that the readers can get to know what
other readers are thinking and based on that they can
form their own perspective.

But some newspapers though the opinions are well
written if they don’t conform to the ideas or the
ideology they subscribe to, they don’t make those
opinions live. Then the readers have alternate avenues
in which they can publish their viewpoints. One of
these avenues is blog. There nobody can stop you.

                                               22 | P a g e
If you want to share your ideas and disseminate
information you can even start your own website. But
people think that starting a website is an expensive
thing and we need to spend thousands of rupees to get
it built. But it is only half truth. There are many
websites which provide the netizens with webhosting
services. There you can create your own free site
without spending even one paisa. They provide you
with readymade templates, you can choose an
attractive template and your site would get
automatically generated and you can start keying in the
information you want to share with others. But one
thing that has to be kept in mind is we must avoid
plagiarism. Whatever content we put up in our website
has to be our own and not borrowed from other
sources. But that does not mean you can’t display any
material that is borrowed. You can do that with proper
acknowledgement. Displaying information without the
works cited list or Bibliography would come under
plagiarism, and your actions attract penalties under
copy-right laws.

I have created a website on my own with the URL Since it is a free

                                             23 | P a g e
site I don’t own any domain name. By paying some
amount of money I can register a domain name like after registering, it will even
get its own IP address and it could be spotted by using
search engines like Google.

OK. Internet creates ample opportunities for all of us to
exercise our freedom of expression, but one can’t enjoy
his/her rights without fulfilling some responsibilities.
So nobody should plant news that is completely
baseless and unsubstantiated. Even the netizens should
think twice before they believe in the news or
information that is published on the web. There are
some anti-social elements who try to use some baseless
news items that are planted to fulfill their monstrous
ambitions. People have to be very careful before
believing in such news items. There are many websites
which don’t carry even an iota of credibility and people
should be vary of their evil designs. As there is no
control on the news and information that is published
online, netizens have to use their judgment in deciding
whether a particular website is trust worthy or not. As
far as my awareness is concerned the most credible

                                               24 | P a g e
online resource for standard information is Wikipedia
the online encyclopedia. As far as news is concerned

Bridging digital divide- a challenge to the country.

Digital divide: this is what many IT specialists are
thinking about. Addressing a gathering on 4th
December 2009 our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
expressed his delight at the phenomenal growth of the
Indian telecom sector but expressed concern at the
growing digital divide between urban and rural areas in
the country. He further said that “compared to tele-
density of 100 per cent in our towns and cities, our
rural areas have only 20% tele-density. We must
double the rural tele-density in the next three years.”
The Prime Minister emphasized on the need of
expanding broadband connectivity to rural India.

Now the question is what is that Digital Divide which
is bothering the nation builders. A decade ago people,
when they would discuss infrastructure they would
name only roads, railways, telecommunications, power
generation, water supply, airports, schools and
hospitals. But these days discussion about
infrastructure is incomplete without a mention of

                                               25 | P a g e
bandwidth. The broad band connectivity depends on
the bandwidth.

Why broad band connectivity is so important? The
networked computers make a great difference as far as
knowledge is concerned. People who have access to
Information Technology are dealing with lots and lots
of information and are growing as good human
resources, but on the other hand those who don’t have
access to these are left behind and are not able to
compete with their tech savvy counterparts. This
digital divide is very perceptible in case of rural urban

If they really want to bridge the digital divide they
have to take certain measures like increasing the
bandwidth drastically and taking broadband
connectivity even to the rural areas.

The second thing they should do is providing people
with the necessary hardware, in other words making
computing devices available at cheaper prices. The
government should give priority to all the school going
children in providing them with the cost effective
machines so that every school going child owns a

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computing device preferably a laptop, so that they can
even take it home and work with it. By introducing this
scheme the school going children would not only gain
access to the multimedia content that is available on
line or off-line, and get used to e learning. This will
bring about great transformation in the education
system in the country.

The third thing is making Linux based open source
software widely available so that the computing
devices cost less and become more affordable. In fact
this kind of program is under implementation in many
third world countries.

About One Laptop per Child

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit
organization created by Nicholas Negroponte and
others from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of
Technology) Media Lab to design, manufacture and
distribute laptop computers that are sufficiently
inexpensive to provide every child in the world access

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to knowledge and modern forms of education. These
XO laptops are rugged, open source, and so energy
efficient that they can be powered by a child manually.
Mesh networking gives many machines Internet access
from one connection. The pricing goal is $100. As on
1st Jan 2010 the Dollar Rupee exchange rate stands at
Rs.46.660= $1. So $100 is equivalent to Rs.4, 666. So
this price makes the XO laptop affordable even to the
lower middle class people. Many governments of the
countries in the African continent (which are
considered to be extremely poor) had placed bulk
orders for XO laptops and distributed them among
their school going children.

I fail to understand why our Indian government is not
taking a proactive approach on this issue. May be they
are too busy in their characteristic ugly politicking and
don’t have enough time to spend on this kind of issues.
To know more about this project, visit the website

                                               28 | P a g e
Figures in clockwise: the logo of one laptop per child; OX laptop; the open source ‘Sugar’
software specially coded by Sugar Labs to cater to the educational requirements of the
children; an OX laptop classroom in Mangolia.

                                                                               29 | P a g e
                    Chapter 3:
Till now we discussed the opportunities that are
offered by the cyber space. But a networked computer
is a double edged sword. It offers many challenges and
poses many threats. While you are working on your
networked computer you feel that the whole world is
within your reach. When you type the domain name your computer (termed as
remote terminal) reaches out to the host computer
which has the information and displays the White
House home page on your screen. It is almost a

But this amazing invention could go either way. As
you enjoy accessing information and widening your
horizons, somebody somewhere might be observing
your computer and detect how vulnerable your system
is and how to take your system under their control, so
that they can use your machine to commit cyber crime.
The profiles of cyber criminals vary. There are some
mischievous, juvenile elements who hack or bug others
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computers not with malicious intent, but to derive a
sense of achievement. For them it is like a game as
they want to demonstrate their skills and they derive lot
of satisfaction out of it. But there are very dangerous
criminals operating in the cyberspace whose intentions
are destructive. They want to steal your identity and
misuse it; they want to dig into your computer for
information with which they can indulge in financial
fraud. They can bug your computer by embedding
virus (like Trojans) code in an email message. When
you open the message it gets automatically deployed
and infects your operating system, and the virus may
even contain some code to make your system go under
the control of the hackers. So injecting virus like
Trojan horse might even be a ploy to gain control over
your computer and use it as a zombie.

                                               31 | P a g e
A security analysis done by using Internet Security software Kaspersky which showed that the
system was under attack

                                                                            32 | P a g e
After running ‘security analysis’ the Microsoft online help gave the advice to go for a security

Ok. Computers not only offer opportunities but even
pose threats. But do the computers throw entirely new
challenges and pose entirely new threats to the
humankind? When we analyze cyber crime we get to
know that some of the common computer crimes like
hacking, bugging, plagiarism, pornography etc. are
nothing new. Hacking is a kind of stealing. A hacker

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gains illegal entry into others computer and steals
important esp. financial or personal information with
the intention of using it for his own benefit. This crime
is nothing new. It has been happening from ages. The
only difference is in the olden days when they wanted
to rob somebody they would make a hole in the wall
and gain entry inside, gather all the valuables and
escape with their bounty. But in the 21st century
technology has done away with all
the menial labor and enabled the
robbers to comfortably sit in their
living rooms in front of their
networked computers and do the
job in a very smart way. Both the
ways yield the same result but the
modus operandi differs. In the
same manner spreading virus, Anti-virus software like this
                                      protects your system from
copying somebody else’s content malware and other cyber
and claiming it to be one’s own,
spreading and watching pornography, trapping people
through social engineering, all these crimes have been
happening from time immemorial, but the only change
is, with the advent of Internet these activities had gone

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A defaced homepage of a website with the domain name
Defacing websites and creating hyperlinks which take the visitors to pornographic websites is
a kind of vandalism. They do it just to prove themselves that they have the capability to do it
and derive pleasure out of it.

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In the above illustration you see a defaced website.
This website actually features very valuable
information. There are many e books, audio books,
articles and many other features. The e books and
audio books can be downloaded free of cost. But some
vandals defaced it and replaced the download links to
the books with the links which take the visitors to a
porn site. This is an atrocious activity, and nobody
derives any benefit out of it.

                                            36 | P a g e
                    Chapter 4:
Well, it all happened on 9th November evening when I
found a message in my e mail letter box from one of
my friends to join a social networking site called
Zorpia. I tweet on Twitter, face my friends on
facebook, but I never heard this Zorpia. So I grew
enthusiastic and clicked that link. It took me to an
impressive looking website and found that the site has
many facilities to offer and straightaway opened my
account. But because of the time constraints I could
not build my profile fully. So the info with regard to
my marital status showed “dating” by default. The
underlying picture shows you that I left my profile
                                   incomplete. May
                                   be this might have
                                   prompted        Ms.
                                   Mercy Boko to
                                   write the so-called
                                   love letter with an
                                   offer to marry me.
                                   She     used    her

                                             37 | P a g e
                                                       Zorpia account to
                                                       send the message.
                                                       Here you can see
                                                       the cover of my
                                                       guestbook in my
                                                       Zorpia homepage.

                                 The next day I
 Email notification by Zorpia team about the message
                                 received an email
                  sent by Mercy Boko

message notifying me of the receipt of a message into
my guest book on my Zorpia. I clicked on the button
view comment and I saw something which took me by
surprise. To my astonishment it was a love letter sent
by a girl by name Ms. Mercy Boko making an offer for

                                                                38 | P a g e
It seems that she is interested in the right person to
spend time with, in the rest of her life. If we closely
observe her language it sounds genuine and heartfelt.
But as they say, sometimes appearances are deceptive.
She even says that distance, age and color does not
matter. Normally when people see this kind of words,
they come to the conclusion that she is a white woman
and does not have any objection to marry a black or an
Asian. So this sentence is used as a bait to lure the
persons and make them fall into her/his trap. We don’t
even know whether the person is really a female and
her name is Mercy Boko as stated in the message.
From the message it is apparent that the person gave an

                                             39 | P a g e
address where people are predominantly white.

             Mercy Boko's love letter from 24, Catania, Italy

I thought for a while … Why did I receive this kind of
message? Then I observed that in my profile it was
showing my marital status as “dating”. Then I realized
my mistake and immediately built my complete profile
and, to be on the safe side I even uploaded my family
photograph featuring me, my wife and our son. I was
under the impression that this would clear things to the
other person and ignored the message for a while. In
the underlying frame you can see the photograph I
uploaded on to my Zorpia homepage.

                                                                40 | P a g e
The family photograph that I uploaded on to Zorpia. This photograph did not deter Boko from
                                   showering love on me

But after sometime I thought courtesy demands that I
should answer the mail and gave a reply making
matters clear and thought that would be the end of the
episode. As you can see in the mail I sent I stated it
very categorically that I’m married and have a son. I
even apologized for the confusion I created by not
building my complete profile on Zorpia. As far as my

                                                                           41 | P a g e
message is concerned it is absolutely clear and

     The delayed replay that I sent to Ms. Mercy Boko making my position clear

But my message did not deter the other person from
shooting another message. This time she not only
showed her passionate love on me but also fabricated

                                                                        42 | P a g e
an excellent story. As you can see that she stated that
her parents were the victims of cold blooded murder by
the rebels in Uganda. As there is a civil war going on
in Uganda credulous people naturally believe the other
persons version, and there is every possibility that
some of them may react in a sympathetic manner. She
even stated that her father was the chairman of a
commercial organization called BEN Manufacturing
Company. (We don’t know what it manufactures)
When I undertook a search on Web I could not find
any traces of such a company in Sudan. One of the
most respected daily newspapers in East African region
The Sudan Tribune does not have any reference to
either Ben Manufacturing Industry or it’s so called
former Chairman Benjack Boko who is claimed to
have been killed by rebels. Ms. Mercy even claimed
that her father Benjack Boko was the advisor to the
former president of Sudan. If her father was really such
a high profile personality and had really been killed by
the rebels, his name would have been featured
somewhere in the archives of The Sudan Tribune.
This implies that all these names are fictitious and
created exclusively for the purpose of carrying out this
cyber crime.

                                              43 | P a g e
If we closely observe the letter we easily get to know
that the person has taken utmost care to fabricate the
story as it is done in detail. It is also very obvious that
the way they communicated with me in quick
succession stands as ample evidence that it is a
professional network which indulges in cyber crime by
taking advantage of certain contemporary situations in
some countries. She stated that she escaped from
Sudan (where there is a civil war going on in Darfur)
and sought asylum in Senegal. Sudan is located in the
eastern part of the African continent and the Senegal is
on the extreme west. Under normal circumstances the
people who are subjected to persecution seek asylum in
some neighboring country which is nearer. But in this
case Ms. Mercy Boko claims that she lives in a relief
camp in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. From Khartoum
Sudan Ms.Mercy migrated to the capital city of
Senegal Dakar, which is approximately 5,800 kms
away. Under normal circumstances a refugee cannot
mobilize resources and facilities to migrate this far.
According to newspaper reports (The New York
Times; dated 1st November 2008) most of the refugees
who escape the war ravaged western region of Darfur
in Sudan, where the government forces and the Arab

                                                 44 | P a g e
militia men are fighting, escape to the border of
neighboring country Chad where United Nations is
running an aid operation to rescue around half a
million of refugees from both the countries that are
Chad and Sudan. In fact even Chad is facing the
problem of rebels and both the governments aid the
rebels of their opponent country to settle scores with
each other.

                                             45 | P a g e
46 | P a g e
                         Even after making my position clear Ms. Mercy Boko
                         pursued me and fabricated a nice story with an evil

                            This is the so-called Ms. Mercy
                            Boko’s photograph. It is clear
                            that she is a black. We can’t
                            even say that this girl actually
                            did the whole thing. There is a
                            possibility that somebody might
                            have used this girl’s picture. If
                            that is the case we need to think
twice before uploading our photographs on to the net,
   The so-called Mercy Boko as our photographs could be
                            misused in this manner. These
days the social networking sites are proliferating at a
rapid pace and people are uploading scores of
photographs on to these websites. The web has made it
very easy to upload and download the content in
different formats like text, photographs and videos. So
they are widely available on the net, and there is no
guarantee that our photographs would not be misused
by some rogue elements. If such a thing happens we
will definitely be in trouble.

                                                             47 | P a g e
Well, I fell into the trap. I replied Ms. Mercy Boko by stating that I'm ready to help her. This
          obviously had given her encouragement to continue her communication.

                                                                                48 | P a g e
Everything happened in quick succession. Immediately after I revealed some of my personal
information Ms. Mercy Boko shot this email message giving the details of a fictitious finance
                   company where her father deposited the treasure.

                                                                              49 | P a g e
This email message from Mr. Tajibe Jidu (Service Director) on behalf of the Major Golfer
Treasure security Home which included a letter as an attachment

This is the email message I received from the so called
Service Director of Major Golfer Treasure Security
Home. He sent the letter as an attachment and the letter
is printed in the next page. As you can see, the letter is
on a plain paper, not on an official letterhead. We can’t
judge the authenticity of the letter unless it is digitally

                                                                              50 | P a g e
Another important thing we should observe is in the
letter they asked for a scanned copy of my identity and
my full personal details. In fact I furnished the personal
details and even thought of sending a scanned copy of
my identity. But in the mean time I grew suspicious
and started reviewing the whole story which confirmed
my suspicion.

                                                51 | P a g e
The letter that was attached to the mail received from Mr. Tajibe Jidu

                                                                  52 | P a g e
falling deep into the trap: In this mail I sent to Ms. Mercy Boko I promised her to help her in
                                             good faith

                                                                               53 | P a g e
At last Ms. Mercy Boko realized that I have been treating her as sister. But even after that
 her style of composing mails has not changed. This stands as ample evidence that all the
                         drafts of the emails are prefabricated.

                                                                             54 | P a g e
Inspite of addressing her as sister she continued
showering the other kind of love on me and kept on
treating me as her prince charming. Moreover she
made a very important observation “I did not have to
think twice when you asked me to be your wife” this is
atrocious. If you read the content of the snap shots of
the email messages that I have inserted, you get to
know that nowhere I addressed her as my love and I in
fact, addressed her as sister in the previous letter. Of
course she also addressed me as brother, but in the
body of the letter she repeated the same old thing. This
makes another thing clear, that is all the letters that
were sent to me are prefabricated, and the person could
not edit the prefabricated letters properly to match the
unexpected situations in dealing with their prey.

                                              55 | P a g e
56 | P a g e
So their real intentions are out. They want me to send the expenses that would be incurred
                          to transfer the fictitious treasure to India.

                                                                           57 | P a g e
This is what they are aiming
for. They want $1,460. If we
convert the amount into
Indian currency it will be
Rupees 68,109. If we
include the charges of
sending money it comes to
almost     rupees    Seventy
thousand. They made this
plan to trap some netizens Hunting for Dollars through illegal means
and grab the Rs. 68,000. For        by using the cyber space

a middle class person 68,000 rupees is not a small
amount of money. Neither is it a small amount for the
people who are living in African continent in which
most of the counties are very poor and ravaged by civil
wars. Of course we don’t know from where these email
messages emerged. In these days of economic
recession and rising unemployment it is not a
negligible amount even to a person who is from a
developed country. The nefarious activities of these
criminals that have now turned the Internet into a
cheap channel for the perpetration of criminal
spamming activities known as the Advanced Fee
Fraud (AFF). The above incident with complete
description is a classic example of Advanced Fee
Fraud (AFF) through spamming. According to
newspaper reports the African nation Nigeria is the
hub to most of these crimes.
                                                        58 | P a g e
Barrister Adeboye katke's Identity card. We don’t know whether it is authentic or fabricated.

This is the identity card attached to the letter sent via e
mail by a lawyer by name barrister Adeboye Katke.
Well, could this be original? Or had it been
impersonated? In India sales executives, when their
customers don’t possess proper testimonials to get
some things like SIM cards, USB modems they
impersonate the voter Identity Cards. They carefully
peel off the lamination, they peel a small part of the
three dimensional hologram and insert another
person’s photograph and change the personal
information on the card and take a photocopy of it and
                                                                             59 | P a g e
attach it to the application. Something of that sort
might have happened or this lawyer Bar. Adeboye
Katke might himself has a role in this crime. Because
as I sent a message to this barrister requesting him to
guide me in the matter he mailed me back as if he is
eagerly waiting for that. Or somebody might have
gained access to his identity card, scanned it and
exploiting and the barrister might well be unaware of
its misuse. This is the problem with the Web. You
receive lot of documentary evidence but you don’t
have any way to know whether it has emerged from the
right source or not. But there is a solution to the
problem. That is digital signature. Digital signature
technology enables the user to encrypt the data by
using his/her private key and the receiver can open the
document by using the public key of its generator.
None of these documents are digitally signed and not
many people know about digital signature technology.
So people who are not aware of these things may easily
believe the authenticity of the documents. So this is
certainly an ingenious step on the part of Ms. Mercy
Boko, as this kind of evidence lures the innocent
people to fall into the trap.

                                             60 | P a g e
  So this is Ms. Mercy Boko's offer. Had I sent the money it would have gone forever?

That’s it. Ms. Mercy Boko finally decided to make the
mantle fall on me. From the very beginning my
conscience is clear. As I’m well aware of the
happenings in east Africa I sympathized with her and
wanted to help her. I don’t have any objection to send
that money. But before we take a step we need to

                                                                          61 | P a g e
rethink and make sure we are not going to get
deceived. Then to make sure that the claims of
Ms.Mercy are genuine I started having a close look at
all her correspondence. When I saw the address in the
first letter she sent to my guest book on Zorpia, she
mentioned her address as 24, Catania, Italy. Then how
come this girl ended up in Dakar, Senegal? Then
exactly I smelled the rat. To know more about
Ms.Mercy I clicked on the link to her account and to
my astonishment I found that Zorpia had actually
blocked her account. That means her actions are
highly suspicious. I even had another look at all the
messages she sent me. There is abnormal variation in
the kind of language she used in the composition of her
messages. It is very clear that the messages are
prefabricated. The prefabricated messages featured
good language, where as the messages which answered
my specific questions the language is of substandard.
So I came to the conclusion that these messages are not
sent by one person.

I even started investigating deeply into the episode and
decoded well orchestrated plan to grab money online
from credulous people.

                                              62 | P a g e
                                                               When Ms. Mercy wrote
                                                               her first letter to my
                                                               Zorpia guest book the
                                                               address clearly stated
                                                               that it is from Catania;
                                                               Italy. This is the location
                                                               of Catania in Italy.

 According to the correspondence Ms. Mercy
                                                       In her first
 Boko is the citizen of Sudan. It is true that there
                                                       communication on
 is a civil war going on in Darfur region of Sudan.
                                                       Zorpia she mentioned
 This claim by Ms. Mercy Boko makes the other
                                                       her address as 24,
 person believe in the story fabricated by Mercy.
                                                       Catania, Sicily, Italy.

In the later part of the correspondence Ms. Mercy
Boko claimed that she has escaped from Sudan
and sought asylum in Senegal and staying in a
relief camp in Dakar the capital of Senegal.

                                                                   63 | P a g e
 Ms. Mercy Boko's account was banned or terminated. The Zorpia team might have done it
                   after tracking suspicious activity from her account.

This is Ms. Mercy Boko’s account on the social
networking site Zorpia. As you can see in the above
frame it has been stated that the account has been
banned of terminated. Normally social networking sites
ban or terminate accounts of their members when they
indulge in suspicious activities that are not acceptable
to the civilized people.

                                                                        64 | P a g e
      After my suspicions have grown I sent a mail asking for an explanation.

The letter which I shot at Ms. Mercy demanding an
explanation on the misleading information she had
furnished in her successive email messages. In this
mail I stressed on two important things. The first one is
How did she end up herself in Dakar Senegal from 24,
                                                                        65 | P a g e
Catania, Italy? The second question was why her
account on Zorpia was terminated? She gave an absurd
answer to the second question and skipped answering
the first question.

Another notable thing is the person who sent mails in
quick successions suddenly stopped all the
correspondence with me. This shows that she is a

    Ms. Mercy's answer to my questions, utterly unconvincing and far from true.

                                                                        66 | P a g e
In the above frame you can clearly see that Ms.Mercy
Boko is finally exposed and fumbled a lot to explain
her position. The reason she had given is very silly.
She stated that after she sent me the message she forgot
to log out and because of that her account was
terminated from Zorpia. This is ridiculous. As a
netizen with long experience
I can confidently say that not
logging out cannot be the
reason for termination of
service. Of course when one
wants his/her data to be
secure or maintain privacy
he/she had better logout from
his account. But no website The logo of Twitter a very popular social
                                networking site which allows you to key
terminates      an     account in your ideas and activities in not more
showing this absolutely than 140 letters
trivial reason. These social networking sites monitor
their member’s activities closely and the moment they
observe any suspicious activity on the part of any of
the members they block the account. So it is
abundantly clear that Ms.Mercy Boko’s account was

                                                           67 | P a g e
terminated for obvious reasons. She might have sent
the same message to so many people and as the site
observed this activity they immediately terminated her
account. She even used some sentiment by saying that
after she mailed me and found me she thought that she
no longer needed that account so she herself discarded
it by not logging it out! How funny the explanation is.

The answer conclusively proves that the other person,
who ever she may be, was trying to deceive me. In her
first mail she mentioned her address as Catania, Italy to
lure her prey by creating an impression that she is a
white Italian. Since Italy is a well developed country
people easily believe that even this girl might well be
economically well off. After throwing this initial bait
and attracting some persons the sender of these emails
switched over to Dakar, Senegal in the subsequent
correspondence. Moreover she even brought Sudan
into picture to substantiate her fabricated story. And
she cleverly used the happenings in Darfur region of
Sudan to make people believe her version. So she
could      not   answer      the    second     question.
One more important observation I made is the kind of
language the person used in this mail is of substandard

                                               68 | P a g e
in comparison with the other mails. This fact implies
that other mailed letters might well be ready made, in
other words prefabricated and this particular mail had
to be composed on her own to answer the unexpected
questions, and in the process the person who sent
beautiful love letters earlier barely managed to put
across her version in a very shabby manner. During my
investigation I came across an interesting thing. That is
in between the two points i.e. Sudan and Senegal there
is a country called Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the fastest
growing economies and the most populous nation in
the African continent. In Nigeria with the advent of
Internet a fraud called Advance Fee Fraud (AFF)
started flourishing. It has almost acquired the status of
an industry and has got a long and interesting history.
Whatever description that I have given above closely
resembles what has been happening in Nigeria. This
Mercy Boko thing might well have emerged from
Nigeria though we are not sure because, deriving
inspiration from Nigerian fraudsters the criminals in
other countries also started this kind of business. To
know more about this interesting story visit:

                                                69 | P a g e
It seems I won a lottery without even buying a lottery ticket.

                                                                 70 | P a g e
  Precautions needed to protect our selves
When we leave the house for a tour we take many
precautions in order to avoid any theft. First we check
whether any faucets are left open, any electric
appliances are running, whether any doors are left
unbolted and close everything and finally we bolt the
main door and lock it. In the same fashion we have to
take the precautions even in case of our networked
computer. As it is well-known, for every threat there is
a precaution, and when the threat becomes a reality and
the attack actually happens there is a defense to protect

Security needs vary from person to person. If your
machine is not networked and you don’t use any
external storage device probably you need not worry
about the safely of your computer. But when your
system is connected it becomes vulnerable. Threats
from many directions loom large and you need to take
protective measures. The first thing you need to do is
to ensure that you use a licensed version of the
software so that you can download and install the latest
security patches released by the software manufacturer
and keep the inbuilt security software active. For

                                               71 | P a g e
example if your system runs on Vista, activate the
Windows defender. In case of XP download the
defender and install it. But the inbuilt security software
does not shield your machine completely from
malware. To get complete protection you need to
install a good anti-virus software preferably Norton
Internet Security Kaspersky Internet Security or
McAfee. But if you don’t want to spend on an Internet
Security Software you can download and install
Microsoft Security Essentials released by Microsoft for
the benefit of its genuine software users. This antivirus
software provides real-time protection for your home
PC and guards against viruses, spyware, and other
malicious software. The most important feature of any
good antivirus software is it gets updated regularly on
its own, the moment you go online.

In a nut shell you should keep the

Firewall turned on

Automatic updating enabled

Malware protection active

and other security settings like user account control
also turned on.

                                                72 | P a g e
Run the security analyzer in your anti-virus software
and keep track of the threats your system is facing.

Well this is at individual level. Not only individuals
but even the nation states are worried about their cyber
net works. A new term Cyber War has been coined and
the defense experts say that till now wars are waged on
the surface of the water and land (warships like aircraft
carriers and destroyers, battle tanks, SAMs etc.), under
the water (submarines), in the sky (war planes and air-
to-air missiles), in the space (some countries like US
and China have acquired the capability of shooting
down the space assets (satellites) of the enemy),
subterranean (Vietnamese soldiers constructed the
underground bunkers to ambush US soldiers) during
Vietnam war).

But the new age warfare starts in cyber space and
spreads to all other avenues. Cyber war is a war in
which the cyber communication system of the enemy
country is targeted and will be paralyzed so that the
attacker can gain the strategic edge over the enemy.

      According to a report released by McAfee a
      cyber security company, the US, Russia, France,
      Israel and China are armed with cyber weapons,
      and the UK, Germany and North Korea are
      preparing for a future in which conflict is partly

                                               73 | P a g e
     conducted through the Internet. Many nations
     are arming to defend themselves in a cyber war
     and readying to mount their own attack if
     necessary. For instance the July 4, 2007 attacks
     involving denial-of-service on websites in the
     US and South Korea could have been a test by a
     foreign entity to see if flooding South Korean
     networks       and      the       transcontinental
     communication between the US and South
     Korea would disrupt the ability of the US
     military in South Korea to communicate with
     military leaders in Washington DC; an the
     pacific command at Hawaii.” The ability of the
     North Koreans to disable cyber communications
     between the US and South Korea would give
     them a huge strategic advantage” If they were to
     attack South Korea, the report said.

(the report released by McAfee and published in on November 16, 2009)

     According to another report a former senior US
     Information Security Official, nearly three
     quarter million personal computers in the United
     States were taken over by Chinese hackers. The
     computers on which the hackers manage to gain
     control are called as “Zombies”. (Zombies are
     malicious software packages downloaded by
                                             74 | P a g e
      unsuspecting users from infected e-mail
      messages or websites; as a result the computers
      go into the hands of hackers and enslave
      themselves to those cyber thugs)

      They infect computers at a very basic level,
      making them hard to find and root out, and they
      enable the hackers who wrote them to create
      large networks of “slave” computers that can be
      used in massive, if unsophisticated, cyber attacks
      using a technique called Denial of Service or
      DoS. DoS attacks aim to overwhelm their target
      websites by flooding them with bogus requests
      for information from slave networks, also called
      Botnets. Botnets are ‘the cheapest attack weapon
      a nation can buy’.

Shaun Waterman, United Press International (UPI)
Homeland and National Security Editor; published on
Sep 17, 2007.

Now the big question is, what about India and what are
its preparations to defend against Cyber attacks and
what are our capabilities to mount counter attack to
deter the enemy from launching further attacks.
According to newspaper reports and the reports on well
known defense journals India is facing cyber attacks
from Chinese hackers on regular basis. Chinese hacker

                                              75 | P a g e
community is state sponsored. In a way we can term
this as state sponsored cyber terrorism. It is not
surprising to see China taking its cyber warfare
capabilities very seriously. In 21st century Cyber
warfare capabilities of the countries play a major role
in upsetting the plans their adversaries. So the PRC
(Peoples Republic of China) has two strategies. The
first one is to follow the principles of Sun-Tzu the
                                  Chinese war philosopher who
                                  produced the classic work The
                                  Art of War. Sun-Tzu said when
                                  you wage a war you should
                                  know your adversary very well.
                                  You should hit him hard where
                                  he is most vulnerable. So
                                  countries like US and its NATO
                                  allies and India to a great extent
                                  depend on infrastructure that is
                                  highly networked. So these
Cyber Security expert Ankit Fadia countries are highly vulnerable
who helped Mumbai police in to          cyber attacks. So by
tracing out the email messages
sent by terrorists in post 26/11
                                  launching attacks on the critical
attacks. Copyright ©2010 Bennett infrastructure of the adversary
Coleman & Co. Ltd
                                  they can gain a strategic
advantage and with that they can neutralize the
enemy’s ability to wage a protracted war against
China. The second strategy is, following the call given
by the founder of Communist China Mao Tse-tung
                                                        76 | P a g e
during the revolution (long march). Mao always
advocated people’s participation in any war. So the
authoritarian communist regime has involved people
(the govt. is training the skilled netizens to become
professional hackers) and prepared a well organized
force to carry out cyber war.

But India’s preparedness in this aspect is nil. As far as
maintaining internal law and order and protecting
borders are concerned Indian leaders have always been
reactive though they are supposed to be proactive
considering the security environment in the
neighborhood. The Kargil intrusions, the border
violations by Chinese army on regular basis and the
numerous bomb explosions which took the lives of so
many innocent people are all the standing testimony to
the laxity on the part of the rulers towards national

According to the cyber security expert Ankit Fadia
(who helped Mumbai police in tracking down the
sources of the e mails received from terrorists in the
post 26/11 attacks) in Mumbai, terror came through the
sea and went berserk spraying bullets on the civilians.
The next time it may come through the fiber optic
cables. In a society where people are increasingly
getting dependent on technology India is most
vulnerable at the critical infrastructure like railways,
                                               77 | P a g e
banking, power grids, stock exchanges, telecom and
other cyber communication networks. If the enemies
launch attacks on these targets the public life would get
completely paralyzed and the economy would suffer
irreparable losses.

Countries like US which are always proactive in the
matters of national security had taken fool proof
measures to defend themselves from cyber attacks. Not
only defending but even to launch massive counter
strike to deter the enemy from launching further
attacks. So countries are building not only defensive
but even the offensive capabilities.

In the own words of Cyber whiz kid Ankit Fadia,
“despite being an infotech power, India lags on cyber
security. Neither the government, nor the private sector
is adequately prepared to face a cyber attack. We have
the necessary laws in place, but they are futile in the
absence of trained security experts and police officials
to enforce them. Recently, I was at a conference in the
Capital, attended by numerous Delhi Police officials.
During the question-answer session, one police official
asked me: "All this is fine Mr Ankit, but yeh internet ki
building kidhar hai?" According to him, the internet
was a huge building and, in order to protect it from
cyber terrorists, the police had simply to stand all
around it, holding rifles and lathis to fight off viruses,
                                                78 | P a g e
worms and criminals! If this is the state of affairs in the
police department of the national capital, one can't
even begin to imagine the way it is in other cities”.
Prevent a cyber 26/11; Ankit Fadia 5 April 2009, 12:44am IST (The Times of India)

The only super power existing and made this world
unipolar the US is taking strong measures to secure its
information networks, after the new reports suggesting
that China has acquired considerable level of Cyber
warfare capabilities. It started taking measure to
coordinate and streamline the activities of its different
security agencies like Department of Defense (DoD)
and National Security Agency (NSA). The officials say
that the cyber command, as it is known, is an effort to
consolidate existing offensive and defensive
capabilities under one roof and involves no new
authorities or broadening of mission. It also has plans
to build powerful new offensive capabilities -- some as
yet unimagined. Their goal is to better protect their
forces, as if someone manages to intrude inside the
network, it could impair their ability to communicate
and operate. So they are taking a proactive approach in
tackling cyber war and cyber terror.

Every sixth person walking on this earth is an Indian.
What Indian government is doing to protect the
interests of around 1.2 billion population? We don’t
know. Their only answer is our computers are secure.

                                                                                79 | P a g e
80 | P a g e
 The letter received from White House stating that a cyber security coordinator has been
                        appointed by the president Barack Obama

This letter has been received by the author from John
O.Brennan, the Assistant to the President for
Homeland Security and Counter terrorism on 22nd Dec
2009 about the measures taken by President Obama to
secure the cyber assets of United States. He appointed
Mr.Howard Schmidt as the White House Cybersecurity

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Coordinator. If you read
the letter carefully, you
will get to know how
much importance is
given to the post and
how      seriously     the
president has taken the
issue.                       President Barack Obama greets his new White
                             House Cyber Security Chief Howard A.
Here are a set of            Schmidt in the Cross Hall of the White House.
                             December 17, 2009. (Official White House
precautionary measures       Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Mr. Brennan advised the public to take in order to curb
cyber attacks.

Cyber security matters to all of us – and it’s our shared
responsibility to mitigate the threats in this space. You
can take cybersecurity into your own hands with these
tips for protecting yourself online:

      Keep your security software and operating
      system up-to-date. At a minimum, your
      computer should have current anti-virus and
      anti-spyware software and a firewall to protect
      yourself from hackers and malicious software
      that can steal sensitive personal information.
      Hackers also take advantage of Web browsers

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and operating system software that do not have
the latest security updates. Operating system
companies issue security patches for flaws that
they find in their systems, so it is important to
set your operating system and web browser
software to download and install security
patches automatically.

Protect your personal information online.
Millions of people become victims of identity
theft each year. One way that cyber criminals
convince computer users to divulge their
confidential personal information is through fake
"phishing" emails, which are often cleverly
disguised to look like authentic emails. Be wary
of clicking on links in emails that are unfamiliar
and be very cautious about providing personal
information online, such as your password,
financial information, or social security number.

Know who you are dealing with. It is
remarkably simple for online scammers to
impersonate a legitimate business, so you need
to know who you are dealing with. If you are
thinking about shopping on an unfamiliar
website, do some independent research before
you buy. Similarly, before you download
software, be sure that the software developer is
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      trustworthy. Cyber criminals will often embed
      the capability to steal passwords and files into
      free software.

      Learn what to do if something goes wrong. If
      your computer gets hacked, the effects may be
      obvious (e.g., deleted or corrupted files), or they
      may be subtle (e.g., slow computing
      performance). As a first step, you should scan
      your computer with updated anti-virus software.
      You may wish to get professional assistance
      through     your     computer’s     manufacturer,
      computer retail store, or local computer
      technician. You can also alert the appropriate
      authorities by contacting your Internet Service
      Provider or the Internet Crime Complaint
      (Courtesy: The White House Blog by John O. Brennan; Assistant to the
      President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism)

Cyber cafe users are more vulnerable:

      As cases of email frauds grow in India, it is
      better to be suspicious of any mails that ask for
      personal information, even if it might look
      legitimate. That applies to those which may
      come; you may think so, from your trusted
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A cyber security veteran told TOI: “Mails from
banks asking for personal information are
flooding Indian inboxes, most of which are fake.
Most legitimate banks follow a policy of not
asking personal information through e-mail. If
needed, they will send letters or call you up.
Whenever you get such a mail, confirm with the
banks helpline number before opening it.”

Cyber security whiz kid Ankit Fadia added:
“You must have two different email addresses
with separate passwords—one that is your
official one and the other which you can use for
social networking sites like Orkut or for online
websites and blogs. This way, you know that the
mails you receive in your unofficial email are
mostly spam.” “You must be careful about mails
with an interesting subject line, something you
might instinctively click on. With such mails,
the best bet is to just delete it if you don’t
recognize the address.” Cyber cafe users are
particularly vulnerable. Avoid using Cyber cafes
for sending a mail which has your personal
details like PIN.

Fadia said: “With people, especially from
smaller towns thronging cyber cafes, they are
most prone to email fraud. Most of the cafes
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      don’t have strong anti-virus software installed
      due to economic reasons. This puts your email at
      risk from hackers.” Fadia notes that the presence
      of 1,600 and still-growing cyber cafes point to
      the dependence of huge sections on these e
      kiosks. He has simple advice for them. “Users
      must always log out or lock their computer when
      stepping away, even for a minute when at cyber
      cafes. Forgetting to do so leaves your account
      open to abuse.”

      With sites like Facebook and Orkut becoming
      more and more popular day by day, be careful
      about the information you choose to share with
      others online. To avoid identity theft, always
      avoid making public your PAN number, your
      exact date of birth, your full address or your
      telephone number.

      (Times of India; Dated January 07, 2009)

Seven Practices for Computer Security
1. Protect your personal information. It's valuable.

The netizens much not reveal any personal information
esp. the PIN Nos. Sometimes when you make online
payments you may be guided towards secure payment

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gateway by your bank. In that
case you may key in the PIN. In
other cases you must neither
reveal nor should you store such
data in your computer esp. when
you don’t have a licensed
version of the Operating System Spam: we face many dangers by
and Internet Security software. clicking on it
While joining social networking cites it is normal that
we become overenthusiastic and try to furnish some
personal information like residential address, date of
birth, Telephone Number etc. This information may be
misused to swindle you.

2. Know who you're dealing with.

While you are online you need to be very cautious and
deal with only those people whom you know very well
or the people who represent well known organizations.
But when you deal with the representatives of even the
well known organizations we need to check their
identity before we act. There should always be an
element of suspicion in your mind, but at the same time
you should not fall prey to paranoia either. Every day
you find some or sometimes many messages in your

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spam box. Your spam box in most of the cases contains
mails from unfamiliar persons. It is not safe to click on
those messages, even if you click, don’t download any
attachments that form part of those messages. Spam
and the attachments that come along with it may
contain malware like Trojan horse which may enslave
your computer and turn it into a Zombie to form part of
a botnet. All this process is insidious and happens
without you being aware of it.

3. Use security software that updates automatically.
Many computer users don’t give much importance to
anti-virus software. They treat the issue as
unimportant. As a result their systems get infected
mostly when they go online, or when they attach
storage devices like flash drives if they contain
information downloaded from internet or any other
source that was already infected. Flash drives which
are commonly known as pen drives are particularly
prone to infection. Viruses like Trojan horse, Win32
Sality are dangerous and make our computers crash if
we don’t have a licensed version of the security
software in place. Many computer users download free
versions like AVG and avast Home Edition. These free

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software are not at all reliable and they don’t get
updated automatically. Licensed versions of the
security software like Norton Internet Security or
kaspersky Internet Security are the most reliable
software which give maximum protection to your
system when you are online. Some users who use
Operating Systems like Windows Vista have inbuilt
protection tools like Windows defender, but that could
not be a complete solution to the threat of virus.
Installation of licensed, reliable security software
which remains up-to-date in its antivirus definitions is
very much essential if you want to be immune to the
cyber threats.

4. Keep your operating system and Web browser up-to-
date, and learn about their security features.

In order to keep your system secure you need to use
genuine software. If you have any doubts with regard
to the authenticity of your Microsoft Windows
software you can get it checked by logging on to and clicking on the
buttons Validate Windows and Validate Office. Your
software will be put to authentication test and the result
would be displayed within a few seconds.

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The Operating System versions released by Microsoft
are prohibitively expensive. If we take the example of
Windows vista, there are three variants: that are Home
Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate. They are priced
at Rs: 4000, 5300 and 11500 respectively. If we spend
11,500/- we can get a high configuration System Unit
assembled. India, being a third world country and the
per capita income is very less the computer users are
not in a position to afford a genuine Operating System
marketed by Microsoft. Even the office suit sold by
Microsoft, for example Office 2007 is priced at around
Rs/-5000. I think the day is not far away when a
desktop computer would be priced at Rs/- 10,000 and
the software, may be (Windows 10 with Office suit)
would cost around Rs/-15,000. So the software has
certainly become prohibitively expensive for the third
world computer users. Even an Internet Security
software (single user) costs around Rs/-500.

So what could be the solution to this problem? How
can we get the software at an affordable price? Using
pirated software could not be the solution as it comes
under copyright violation, and is a punishable offence.
The only solution could be to switch over to Open

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Source software based on Linux. There are many Linux
distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Dabian etc. These
Operating systems also support GUI (Graphical User
Interface) and facilitate ease of operation with mouse
clicks. I wonder why people are after Windows
operating system. As far as my observation is
concerned (I tested Ubuntu) Linux based OSs are not
only user friendly but even function as effectively if
not more effectively than Windows OS. Windows OS
is targeted by cyber criminals as it is the most widely
used Operating System.
But as far as Linux is
concerned it is not only
difficult to encode a virus Ubuntu: a Linux based OS that looks very
program even the buggers much similar to Windows and has all the
                                   facilities Windows OS has.
don’t show much interest
in coding virus programs as they are not used by many.
Linux based software is completely free and they are
the products of volunteers based all over the world. So
they release new versions at quick successions, and the
users can upgrade their OS by going online.

So in case you are not in a position to afford Windows
go for Linux based OS. Ubuntu comes along with

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Open Office suit. Open Office has all the features
Microsoft Office has. You can use Mozilla Firefox or
Thunderbird browser to roam around in cyber space. I
think the future belongs to open source software.
Already much of the software available online is free.
The software services companies release two versions:
one is basic and the other is premium version. The
premium versions come with a cost, but the basic
versions are all free. The well know softwares that are
indispensible but still available free area Adobe reader,
Flash Player, Real Player, Apple Quick Time player,
DAP, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Nero, VLC
player etc, Apple ITunes etc.

In case of browsers though Internet Explorer is still
widely used, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are
fast gaining ground. They all released their new
versions with new facilities and most importantly with
new security features. Google Chrome in combination
with Google search engine makes our search task very
easy and faster. Mozilla Firefox has become very
attractive with so many add-ons.

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In case you have any doubts about the authenticity of your software you can go for validation

                                                                             93 | P a g e
  The Microsoft validation check service validated the software and given its feedback

5. Keep your passwords safe, secure, and strong.

Creating a safe and secure password is a challenge. If
the password of your system is very weak the cyber
criminals may be able to break your password very
easily. So you should create a strong password in order
to block any attempt to gain unauthorized entry into
your system.

There are many methods to create a strong and secure
password. You can consider any one these methods to
create your own password for your system.

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For example take a quote from a philosopher called
Voltaire about freedom of expression. “I don’t agree
with what you say but I’m ready to sacrifice my life to
protect your right to say it”.

Take the first letter of each and every word of the
quote to create your password. In this quote you
observe some content words and the remaining are
functional words. Use uppercase letters to content
words, so that you bring variety into your password.
Now split the sentence into two parts: ‘I don’t agree
with what you say’ and ‘but I’m ready to sacrifice my
life to protect your right to say it’. Now after splitting
the quote into two parts you use number sign # thrice
in the middle of the two parts to bring about more
variety and to put a check on any effort to guess your
password. When you generate a password in this
manner it would be almost impossible to break it and
after generating the password it would look like
IdAwwyS###bIaRtSmLtPyRtSi. You can get the
strength of your password checked by visiting
Microsoft’s password checker facility by logging on to

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        You can check the strength of your password by using this facility

When I checked the strength of the password that I
generated using this facility it graded the password as

6. Take a back-up of your valuable files.

If you have a networked system on your desk, it is
normal that you keep downloading something or the
other. Many of them might be very important and you
want to preserve them for future reference. But those
files might not entirely be safe if you let them remain
on your HDD for a long time. If your system gets
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bugged there is every possibility that your system may
crash and you may lose your important files. So it is
safe to take a back up of your files in a storage device
either on an external HDD or DVD.

7. Learn what to do in an e-mergency.

There is a dedicated team called Indian Computer
Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the
control      of    Department       Of      Information
Technology; Ministry       of    Communications      &
Information Technology; Government of India. This
team comes to the rescue of the netizens and the
administrators of computer networks when they face
cyber emergency. The cyber attack incidents can be
reported to this team and they help the persons in
tackling the problem by rendering the required help.
You can even keep yourself up-to-date with regard to
the threats by subscribing to the email alerts facility
provided by the team. CERT has a website which features all its
activities and gives comprehensive information about
the cyber threats faced by computer users in India.
There are two facilities provided by this website.

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Incident reporting and

Vulnerability reporting.

In case anyone faces a computer security related
incident involving loss of confidentiality, disruption of
data, denial of service availability he/she can report the
incident by sending an email at

In case of a vulnerability (vulnerability is a bug in a
computer program which enables and attacker to
bypass security measures) the problems can be
reported by sending a mail at . In
case of e-mergency the victims can contact the officials
on a toll free number +91-1800-11-4949.

Laws in India to deal with cyber crime

On 9th of June 2000 Ministry of Law, Justice and
company Affairs published a law that was passed and
received assent from the President, through a Gazette
of India. The act was termed as The Information
Technology Act-2000. In this act lot of importance is
given to Digital Signature, as Indian companies and
consumers started using documents in electronic form
to run their business, in other words e commerce. Since
the transactions in e commerce happen in electronic

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form the authentication of these documents received
high priority as there is lot of scope for deception.
So in this act it has been stated that all the documents
in electronic form with proper digital signatures
acquire equal status with the hard copies of the
documents with the hand written signatures. So this
law gave validity to the digital signature to facilitate
the electronic transfer of documents and letters.

In this act all the matters with regard to dealing with
digital signatures has been incorporated. It prescribed
the procedure to get Digital Signature Certificate from
a certifying authority. There is also a mention of how
the digital signature should function by stating that the
subscriber to the digital signature holds a private key
which he is supposed to keep confidential and use it
diligently. Another key called public key is used to
decrypt the digitally signed documents and confirm
that the document is genuine.

Another important thing that has been specified in this
document is, Government of India would establish the
Appellate Tribunals to deal with the matters of
litigation in digitally signed communication in business
and other matters. It also defined some terms like

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hacking and obscenity and mentioned provisions for
penal action.

The Information Technology Act was enacted in 2000
with a view to provide legal recognition to e-commerce
and e-transactions, to facilitate e-governance and
prevent computer-based crimes.

As the nature of cyber crimes is constantly and
continuously changing, this law can’t be static and has
to be amended from time to time to in order to
incorporate new provisions intended to curb the cyber
crime and facilitate the safe operation of the cyber
space. So the government brought an amendment and
there are provisions in this amendment aimed at
tightening procedures and safeguards to monitor and
intercept data to prevent cybercrimes. The amendment
is called as the Information Technology (Amendment)
Act, 2008.

In this amendment act new offences have been added
to already existing list of offences in Information
Technology Act 2000. The newly added offences are

1. sending offensive messages

2. covert theft of computing devices and information

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3. fraudulent use of electronic signature

4. cheating by impersonation

5. cyber voyeurism

6. activity intended to cause damage to the unity and
integrity of the country

7. promotion of sexually explicit content (covers child
pornography also)

This amendment act provides for an Implementation
Mechanism to enforce the law. This act enables the
police personnel (inspector level) to register and
investigate cyber crimes.

A new "Nodal Agency" also came into being for
implementation of Cyber Security. The nodal agency is
called as The Indian Computer Emergency Response
Team and it serves as the national agency for
performing the following functions in the area of
Cyber Security,-

(a) collection, analysis and dissemination of
information on cyber crime incidents

(b) forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents

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(c) emergency measures for handling cyber security

(d) coordination of cyber incidents response activities

(e) issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and
white papers relating to information security practices,
procedures, prevention, response and reporting of
cyber incidents

(f) and some other functions relating to cyber security

To get more information, visit the website of ICERT at This site features a lot of
information on how to keep our computers secure, and
deal with the cyber crimes.

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                   Works cited list one laptop per child: The MIT
Media Lab Indian Computer Emergency
Response Team validation check and check
the password strength facility
Wikipedia the online encyclopedia screen shots from my personal
mail box McAfee security report

Times of India: Cyber Cafes are more vulnerable;
dated January 07, 2009.

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