Although the incidents of cybercrimes are taking place frequently, a few of such crimes are reported, and a meagre portion of the reported crimes are investigated and prosecuted. But the real number of such crimes is thought to be many in the country, according to the authorities concerned.
The fact remains that the country's cybercrime management system is still weak due to lack of necessary manpower, infrastructure and expertise.
According to a report published in this paper, the country has only one cyber tribunal functional, where cases have been piling up during the last seven years.
The government has set up cyber tribunals in seven more divisional cities, as the number of cybercrimes and cases has increased across the country. But the requisite number of judges and other staff members have not been appointed for the purpose until now, the report says.
According to the Cyber Tribunal (Bangladesh) in Dhaka, a total of 260 cases were disposed of in the last seven and half years since its inception on July 28, 2013 with three cases.
The number of cases surged gradually in the following years with 33 lawsuits in 2014, 152 in 2015, 233 in 2016, 568 in 2017, 676 in 2018, and 721 in 2019.
As many as 630 cases were filed until December 2020. Among those, the accused were discharged in 125 cases, and acquitted in 114 lawsuits as the prosecution failed to prove charges against them. The country's lone cyber tribunal could punish the accused only in 21 cases - 20 of which were filed under Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act and one in Digital Security Act (DSA).
According to the cybercrime division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), it has received around 17,000 complaints of cybercrime incidents through facebook messenger, email and hello city apps in last four years.
There are other police cyber-crime divisions in DMP- Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Detective Branch (DB) as well. They are working mostly in the big cities, including Dhaka, where they have also received many more complaints. A senior official of City Cyber Security and Crime Division at DMP said these complaints are not only from Dhaka city. They get complains of cybercrime incidents from all over the country. But they are unable to resolve all of them from Dhaka.
According to police and cybercrime tribunal, most of the complaints were on uploading indecent pictures of women on facebook and other internet platforms, hurting people's religious sentiments, offensive remarks about noted people, and various kinds of online cheating.
According to police headquarters, they are training officers and setting up cyber cells for all police stations across the country. The training has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But, now it will resume, and all police stations will get trained officers to deal with cybercrimes.
Cyber and legal experts said digital or online crimes are gradually causing havoc in the society with various negative impacts on families and youths particularly.
They noted that most of the cyber-criminals go unpunished, as the investigating officers (IOs) and the prosecution cannot establish charges against the accused due to lack of required skill, training and efficiency in handling such cases, and sometimes due to negligence as well.
It was found that some of the cases related to cybercrimes, have not been resolved after many years due to not filing final case report. A survey conducted by some students found that many hacking and financial crime-related cases, filed in 2011-12, are yet to be resolved.
Dates are deferred repeatedly, Investigating officers (IOs) are being changed again and again, but the cases are not resolved. The number of skilled digital forensic investigators in resolving and proving cybercrimes are very few in the country.
There is no visible progress in the Bangladesh Bank heist, whereas perpetrators in the same case in the Philippines are already in prison. This shows the country's competency in handling cybercrimes, the report says.
DSA 2020 needs to be duly implemented, and all the stakeholders concerned, including private ones, need to work together to fight cybercrimes.
Majority of the country's population is already accustomed to digital lifestyle, but the law-enforcing agencies and the judiciary have not improved as much.
The country's ISPs are now planning to set up monitoring cells in divisional headquarters to detect and avert cybercrimes and their potential threats in virtual space, as the number of their subscribers are growing rapidly and expanding across the country.
Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) has taken the initiative, mainly to protect their networks across the country and help the government fight cybercrimes.
The cells will work to protect their networks from potential crimes, and help the law-enforcing agencies if any crime is committed.
There is no visible progress in the Bangladesh Bank heist, whereas perpetrators in the same case in the Philippines are already in prison. This shows our competency in handling cybercrimes, say experts.
It is worrying that almost six years after the USD 101 million cyber heist from the Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, most banks in the country still do not have an effective cyber security system.
Reportedly, only four out of 60 banks in the country have set up cyber security operation centres in line with a Bangladesh Bank directive to prevent large-scale cyber-attacks. After giving the directive in 2016, the central bank has also written to the banks from time to time asking them to put in place a cyber-security system, but to no avail.
While most banks seem uninterested in setting up such a system as they would need additional funds for the purpose, there are also many banks which cannot set up the system despite having the financial capability. The problem they are facing is the lack of a skilled manpower to do the job.
As more and more people are becoming dependent on online banking during this pandemic, our banking system is now even more vulnerable to cyber risks, according to experts. And the risks will increase further in the days ahead due to the rapid expansion of digital banking.
Therefore, there is an immediate need to install such a system in all banks that would monitor and improve their security posture while preventing, detecting, analysing and responding to cyber-security incidents.