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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 134
September 5, 2009

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Law vision

Cyber crime and prevention measures: Bangladesh perspective

Md. Yousuf Reza and Rashed Azim

WE are living in a cyber world. It comprises the most hi-tech benefits and difficulties of our day-to-day lives. Cyber reality incorporates many of our real life activities including but not limited to online banking, online commerce and retail, virtual learning, domestic and foreign trading through digital technologies, internet networks, critical industrial infrastructures, telecommunications, air traffic control, global positioning systems (GPS), global distribution systems (GDS) and hi-tech medical equipment. Using of cyber space Bangladesh can facilitate its resources to expand business worldwide and actively participate in multi-billion dollar software trading and other prospective sectors. Global economic strength depends on strong communication infrastructure, which has already been adopted by our neighbouring countries like India and China.

Cyber evils
Alongside many advantages there are major risks also involved with this technology. Some of the most common and most dangerous of these are: electronic fraud especially in the financial sector, identity theft, illicit use of valuable information, hacking or cracking, cyber-stalking, distribution of pirated software, terrorism, interference with sophisticated high level national security measures, immoral activities, defamation and harassment which affect individuals at large. The cyber evils are mainly caused through hacking, email bombing, data diddling, salami attacks, denial of service attack/distributed denial of dervice (DdoS, logic bombs and trojan attacks etc.

Bangladesh perspective
Recently in Bangladesh, 4 students of a private technology institute hacked the RAB website. On 23 June 2009 RAB arrested JMB IT chief Rajib who used the Internet as an engine of resources to make explosives to use in terrorism activities as he confessed, "I download information on explosives from Internet, translated them into Bengali and send them to Mizan through Bashar” (The Daily Star). This is certainly a serious concern for our national security.

Being a part of global economy Bangladesh has to adopt up-to-date digital infrastructure to continue its information relationship with rest of the world that already have adopted the necessary technologies and have been facing unique challenges every day. Developed countries have already transformed their financial, economic, agriculture, health, telecommunications, common utilities, education and public safety sectors into hi-tech digital technologies. Though we are in an initial stage of this D-tech; once we successfully apply it we will certainly face the mentioned critical situations that are being suffered globally.

Cyber laws and relevant measures
To control the misuse of the technologies in order to protect nations/states and bring the criminals within the jurisdiction, an effective cyber law can play a vital role in ensuring that national and global criminals are fairly and successfully tried and judged for their crimes.

The government of Bangladesh has shown a very positive approach by formulating some policies and Acts as safeguards for cyber victims. Namely, the National ICT Policy, Cyber Law, Information Technology (Electronic Transactions) Act (ITETA), 2000. ITETA seems to be a close replica of the Indian ITA-2000, which failed to include issues like Cyber Squatting, Spam and Cyber Terrorism. The more recently enacted Information and Communication Technology Act (ICTA) 2006 has made provisions to facilitate electronic commerce and encourage growth and development of information technology and brought the cyber criminal within the ambit of criminal jurisdiction. Some commentators stress the importance of making the law more stringent to prevent widespread cyber crime including protection of privacy rights. In the process of the enactment of cyber law government may take advice from cyber security task force comprised of computer scientists, information security professionals and lawyers. Bangladesh, being a member country of INTERPOL may seek help to secure the punishment of net criminals regardless of territory using INTERPOL's global secure police communications system.

The policy makers may formulate a baseline security procedure and policy outlining the detail aspects of security system. A special analysis site in conformity with global secure police communication system may also be developed which would provide real-time monitoring of cyber activities. 'Cyber incident response unit' and 'a cyber crime investigation cell' may be built within law enforcement mechanism to fight cyber crime successfully by adopting the enhancing 'capacity', good police work, skilled investigators by sharing the 'too few' professionals skilled in cyber-security and by training new officers to become experts in the field and providing adequate logistic support or equipment.

Moreover, to keep the national security uninterrupted and avoid hacking, web servers running public sites must be separately protected from internal corporate network and web site owners should watch traffic and check any inconsistency on the site by installing host-based intrusion detection devices on servers.

Other recommendations
Government agencies, NGOs, media and server agencies may come forward to build awareness among the general internet users particularly more vulnerable under-aged “netizen” to save them from the lure of paedophiles and to be used as a source of collection of their parents/family's confidential information. Educational institutions may include curriculum comprise with moral and social ethics and users' code of conduct for the future IT fellows not to use the technology in a morally reprehensible manner. Law enforcement authority must monitor cafes' and users' activities imposing restriction on some websites and users (under18) requiring bar code/password for use and make the users aware of the possible consequences of using certain sites.

A “netizen” should always rethink whether his activities render him vulnerable and keep in mind the following things:
* To prevent ID theft one should avoid disclosing personal information (DoB, bank details) on any web site to strangers.
* Avoid sending any photograph online and providing email address to unknown person or chat friends as there may be misuse of it.
* Unexpected financial gain offered by any person without any consideration should be avoided unless the person is close relative, one may be asked to provide some intrinsic information (address, DoB, bank details), transaction/service charges.
* Always uses latest and up date anti-virus software to guard against virus attacks and keep back up volumes so that one may not suffer data loss in case of virus attack.
* Parents should keep an eye on children accessing internet to protect them any abusive or immoral illusion and imminent danger.

Finally, it may be submitted that the collective effort of government and the people is only a possible way to see the peoples' dream of a Digital Bangladesh in existence and could protect individual and national security of the state from the aggression of cyber criminals.

Md. Yousuf Reza and Rashed Azim are studying Law in the University of London.


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