Cyber frauds raise their ugly head yet again

Updated: Mar 07, 2013, 14:18 PM IST

Siddharth Tak/ Zee Research Group

During the last decade, the Indian banking sector grew at an average rate of 18 percent in comparison to 7 percent GDP growth rate. However, during the same period, cyber fraud in the banking sector has emerged as a big problem and a cause of worry for this sector.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) data reveals that amount involved in cyber frauds related to banking sector has witnessed a massive growth of 44 percent to Rs 52 crore in 2012 when compared to the previous year. As per the data, in 2012 the total number of cyber fraud cases reported was 8,322 involving Rs 52 crore as against 9588 cases reported in 2011 involving Rs 36 crore.

Interestingly, the year on year comparison of amount involved in cyber frauds has depicted an inconsistent trend. The amount involved in 2009 was Rs 72.33 crore which slipped to Rs 40.48 crore and Rs 36.72 crore in 2010, 2011 respectively. However, in 2012 this amount once again rose to Rs 52 crore. Cyber fraud is the act of stealing money from unsuspecting users via the Internet. Also, reported cases of cyber frauds pertained to ATMs, debit cards, internet banking and credit cards.

Explaining the rationale behind the increase in amount related to cyber frauds, Pavan Duggal, Cyber law expert averred, “Relevant security mechanism has not been followed by the private sector banks while public sector banks continued to follow the traditional approach.”

He lamented that the Gopalakrishna Working Group (GGWG) report recommendations on safe electronic banking had met with poor compliance. These recommendations mandated that each bank create a separate information security function to focus exclusively on information security management, a Board approved information security policy needs to be in place and reviewed at least annually as also digital evidence needed to be considered as similar to any other form of legal proof.

RK Bakshi, former executive director at Bank of Baroda, argued for greater education. “There is more use of electronic medium in the banking sector and banks too encourage their customers to use it. However, they provide less awareness regarding the usage of the electronic medium,” he averred.

According to cyber fraud data compiled by the finance ministry, during the last four years, about 54,894 cases were reported involving frauds more than Rs 200 crore. The main contributor to this kitty (about 37 percent of total amount) was India’s largest private sector lender, ICICI bank which has reported the maximum cases i.e. 34918 involving Rs 74 crore. ICICI Bank is followed by American Express Banking Corp. (Rs 26 crore), Citi Bank (Rs 24 crore), Axis Bank (Rs 15 crore), Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (Rs 13.7 crore) and HDFC Bank (Rs 9.78 crore).