Intellectual Property & Cyber Crimes

Intellectual property rights are the legal rights that cover the privileges given to individuals who are the owners & inventors of a work, & have created something with their intellectual creativity. Online content always needs to be protected so we can’t separate Intellectual Property & Cyber Crimes. In cyberspace, sometimes one person makes a profit by using another person’s creative work without his or her consent. This a violation of privacy, & it is protected by IPR. In today’s world besides cyberbullying, & fraud, cybercrimes also includes infringement of copyrights & trademarks of various businesses & other organizations.

Keywords : Intellectual Property, Cyber Crime, Cyber Squatting, Hacking, Phishing, Vishing

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property means the ownership of property except real estate or personal property, as these are the outputs of human mind or spirit. Intellectual property rights are the legal rights of intellectual activity in the field of industry, science, literature & arts. These rights have a limitation by time.

The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws in India are divided inti five main categories: trademarks, copyrights, patents, industrial designs & geographical indications.

India provides protection for intellectual property rights as per with its obligations under the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement of WTO.

Other than the civil solutions & damages, the police & other such authorities have the rights to take action against breaking the terms of law in case of intellectual property. The petitions for violations of IPR will be filed & tried in courts just like any other suits. Appeals are filed in the courts against management & administrative decisions relating to IPR.

Intellectual Property Law in India broadly covers the following areas:

Patents, Plant Variety Protection, Geographic Information, Traditional Knowledge, Copyright, Trade Marks, Trade Secrets & Industrial Designs.

Intellectual property rights have become the highlighted subject because of India’s entry in the WTO & signing the “TRIPS” agreement. Long before this agreement was signed in 1995, there were several treaties dealing with IPRs, such as copyrights, trademarks, patents, & other rights. The most well-known of them are:

• The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of March 20, 1883

• Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary & Artistic Works of September 9,1886

• International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms & Broadcasting Organizations done at Rome on October 26, 1961.

• Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of April 14, 1891,

These all treaties have been periodically revised. But it was found that these treaties lacked an effective enforcement system by which parties to any of these treaties could ensure compliance with the terms of the treaties by other parties. Also the change in the pattern & pace of international trade highlighted the need for greater cohesion in the matter of mutual obligations & more precision in the description of the scope of the rights. TRIPS provided to its members an opportunity to redefine the content & scope of the rights.

TRIPS required first its signatory members, including India, updated their domestic legislation regarding the protection of those rights to the standards stipulated by TRIPS, which was the minimum standard of protection. That updating is a continuous process & while India has brought about several legislative changes into conformity with the requirements of TRIPS, some work still remains to be done.

Proponents of unrestricted file sharing point out how file sharing has given people broader & quicker access to media, has increased exposure to new & upcoming artists, & has considerably reduced the costs of transferring media (including less environmental damage). Supporters of restrictions on file sharing argue that we must protect the income of our artists & other people who work to create our media.

There is also a similar debate over intellectual property rights in case of software ownership. The two exactly opposite views are for closed source software distributed under restrictive licenses or for free & open – source software. The argument can be made that restrictions are required because companies would not invest weeks & months in development if there is no incentive for revenue generated from sales & licensing fees. A counter argument to this is that standing on shoulders of giants is far cheaper than when the giants don’t hold IP rights. Some advocated for open source are of belief that all programs should be available to anyone who wants to study them.

One reason for IP laws is to allow IP creators to benefit from their work/profession. If artists create sketch after months of hard work & labor, then they deserve credit & income from selling or exhibiting them. If a business comes up with an attractive marketing logo, then no other businesses should be allowed to use that logo for product promotion purposes without permission.

People also view protecting IP as a method of promoting creativity. If no one is allowed to copy another person’s work without permission, then we are encouraging creativity for everybody.

Cyber Crimes

Cybercrimes are unlawful acts where the computer is used either as a tool or a target or both. It is any illegal behavior directed by means of electronic operations that targets the security of computer systems & the data processed by them, or any illegal behavior committed by means of, or in relation to, a computer system or network, including such crimes as illegal possession & offering or distributing information by means of a computer system or network.

In recent surveys, it has been found that people are very cautious when it comes to documents that contain personal information on them by completely destroying them or assuring that they are safely stored.

The various types of cybercrimes can be classified as :

Cyber Stalking: It is a crime in which the attacker harasses a victim using electronic communication, such as e-mail or instant messaging, or messages posted to a website or a discussion group. A cyber stalker relies upon the anonymity afforded by the internet to allow them to stalk their victim without being detected.

Cyber stalking can be terribly frightening. It can destroy careers, credit, self-esteem, self-image, & friendships. It can even lead the victim into far greater physical danger when combined with real-world stalking. Victims of domestic violence are most of the time cyber stalking victims. One needs to be aware that technology can make cyber stalking easy. Spyware software can be used to monitor each & everything happening on your computer or mobile, giving tremendous amount of power & information to cyber stalkers.

Hacking: It means gaining an unauthorized access to data in a computer. It describes the fast development of new programs or the reverse engineering of already existing software to make the code better & more efficient. It also refers to expand the capabilities of any electronic device; to use them beyond the original intentions of the manufacturer.

Various terms like cracker, hacker & ethical hacker are used. Hacker are persons who enjoy learning the details of computer systems & expand their capabilities whereas, cracker is a person who uses his hacking skills for offensive purposes. Ethical hackers are usually security professionals who apply their hacking skills for defensive purposes.

Phishing: Phishing is a technique of fraudulently obtaining private information. In this the phisher sends an e-mail that appears to come from a legitimate business – a bank or credit card company requesting verification of information & warning of some dire consequence if it is not provided. The e-mail usually contains a link to a fraudulent web page that seems legitimate with company logos & content & has a form requesting everything from a home address to an ATM card’s PIN. Phishing involves false emails, chats, or websites designed to impersonate real systems with the goal of capturing sensitive data.

Vishing: It is also known as Phone Phishing. It uses an interactive voice response (IVR) system to recreate a legitimate sounding copy of a bank or other institution’s system. The victim is prompted (via a phishing e-mail) to call in to the bank via a number provided in order to verify information. A typical system will reject log-ins continually, ensuring the victim enters PINs or passwords multiple times, often disclosing several different passwords. More advanced systems transfer the victim to the attacker posing as a customer service agent for further questioning.

Baiting: It is like real-world Trojan Horse that uses physical media & relies on the curiosity or greed of the victim. It involves dangling something you want to entice you to take an action the criminal desires. It can be in the form of a music or movie download on a peer-to-peer site. Then, once the device is used or downloaded, the person or company’s computer gets infected with malicious software allowing the criminal to advance into your system.

Social Engineering: It is the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain secure data by conning an individual into revealing secure information. It is successful because its victims innately want to trust other people & are naturally helpful. The victims of social engineering are trickled into releasing information that they do not realize, will be used to attack a computer network. Criminals use social engineering tactics because it is usually easier to exploit natural inclination to trust than it is to discover ways to hack your software. As the saying goes, it is much easier to fool someone into giving you their password than it is for you to try hacking their password.

Reverse Social Engineering: It is a person-to-person attack in which an attacker convinces the target that he or she has a problem or might have a certain problem in the future & that he, the attacker, is ready to help you to solve the problem. Next, he gains the trust of the target & obtains access to sensitive information.

Cross-site scripting: It is a code injection security attack targeting web applications that delivers malicious, client-side scripts to a user’s web browser for execution. XSS attacks enable attackers to inject client-side scripts into web pages viewed by other users. A cross-site scripting vulnerability can be used by attackers to bypass access controls like same-origin policy.

Bot Nets: It is a group of computers controlled without their owner’s knowledge & used to send spam or make denial of service attacks. Malware is used to hijack the individual computers, also known as “zombies” & send directions through them. They are best known in terms of large spam networks, frequently based in the former Soviet Union.

A zombie or bot is often created through an Internet port that has been left open & through which a small Trojan horse program can be left for future activation. At a certain time, the zombie army “controller” can unleash the effects of the army by sending a single command, from an Internet Relay Channel (IRC) site. The computers that form a botnet can be programmed to redirect transmissions to a specific computer, such as a website that can be closed down by having to handle too much traffic – a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack or, in the case of spam distribution, to many computers.

Cybersquatting: It means unauthorized registration & use of internet domain names that are similar to any business’s trademarks, service marks or company names.

Attack Vector: It is a path or means by which a hacker can gain access to a computer network server in order to deliver a payload or malicious outcome. It includes viruses, e-mail attachments, web pages, pop-up windows, instant messages, chat rooms, & deception.

Identity Theft: It is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit & other benefits in the other person’s name, & to the other person’s disadvantage or loss.

Integration of Intellectual Property in Cyber Universe

Intellectual property & cyber security are interlinked because of their common goal to protect the interests of the global community. The safety of one guide the security of the other. But, protecting just one is still not enough as there are specialized threats exclusively targeting intellectual properties. Besides the cost related to the mitigation of cyberattacks, a large portion of losses come from compromised intellectual assets. Because of this, understanding the importance of protecting both cyber security & intellectual property is a necessary step to avoid potential damages.

Malicious programs like computer viruses or cyber threats, pose serious threats to the integrity of the data contained within digital platforms. In this digital age, intellectual property like patent details, technological prototypes, & trade secrets are mostly stored in the digital network. Exposing these files to competitors creates a considerable risk of losing competitive advantage.

Despite improvements in combating cybercrime & threats, IT security professionals are still struggling to fully secure their organization & protect against breaches with 61 percent claiming to have experienced one to six data breaches & three-fourth of breaches require disclosure, putting reputation at risk.

Data breaches are becoming more serious as cybercriminals continue to target intellectual property putting the reputation of company brand or individuals at risk & increasing financial liability.


With the technological advancement & vast amount of growth in cyber world, copyright & trademarks are not limited to the traditional intellectual property but have spread to intellectual property rights over the internet. Cyberspace is becoming a place for intellectual property rights violation. That’s why it has become important that people should be aware of the illegal usage of their websites & webpages.

Hi, This is Dr. Aniket Saxena from Bareilly (India). I am an IIM – B, IMF (US), NISM & EQUALIFI Certified Financial Analyst, AML Pro, & Business Management Expert with PDM, MTech Laws, M. Int’l Laws, GMBA, EMBA (IT), EMBA (BI), & MCA, having around 14 years of experience in successfully implementing investment & financial strategies to achieve individual & business success.

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