Afrozulla, you recently earned your MSc in Criminology and Forensic Science and have worked across a broad spectrum of organizations. What first made you interested in pursuing cyber forensics?
When I started my journey in cyber forensics, cyber was a new thing and it terrified me thinking what if cybercrimes happen to someone in my family, or friends? Internet and technology have been an integral part of our lives, smartphones, laptops, and digital devices have turned into a mine of information about people’s lives.
The interest in cyber forensics did not happen overnight. I used to hear about many cyber-related crimes and then developed this passion that has grown into something one of a kind. It was easy to figure out that this is the way to go for me.
Then I conducted a cyber-crime awareness survey among Master of Social Work (MSW) students, and I came to know that the students are not aware of cybercrimes, and the result was unsatisfactory. If I ask anybody about cybercrimes, the answer will be blank.
Then I started giving cyber-crime awareness programs among schools and colleges, and to police officials, at which point I decided to be in cyber forensics and put my humble effort to help individuals to be aware of cybercrimes. And also, to help the police officials to be aware of cybercrimes and cyber laws in India.
There is no territorial jurisdiction for cybercrime. The digital world in one click can damage the individual, government, and private organizations. We should introduce cyber awareness and training in schools and colleges, and make people more aware of the dangers lurking online.
You have a great many technical skills in various forensic disciplines. How is this beneficial in a field where so many professionals specialize?
I love to conduct research projects in various forensic disciplines and try to make a consistent track record of being able to synthesize complex ideas into meaningful analysis that can effectively reflect current trends and developments.
In Forensic Science and Criminology my interests, in particular, are cybercrime, cyber forensics, criminal justice, youth crime, and crime against women and children. As early as now, I have read extensively in these areas and I am determining possible relevant contributions that I can make in those mentioned interests.
I believe that the best psychologists in the world are hackers or cybercriminals; they know how to trick individuals. They don’t have only the technical skills, even the psychological skills they hold. Today, from the youngest to the eldest member of the family, everyone has a smartphone, so it has become easy for scammers to extract the information they need. Whether a person is educated or uneducated is not important, it is just an awareness, if you are aware you can avoid it. The people need awareness about the common cybercrimes.
I will try to take the responsibility to spread awareness about privacy and scams among individuals. Because of this awareness initiative, even it saves 1-2% of individuals from being victims of cybercrime and they can stay safe, then I think this initiative is successful.
I have never allowed myself to be a bookworm. Instead, I have always sought comprehensive personal development in management skills, technical skills, interpersonal communication, and I used to interview criminals at varying points in their criminal activities to learn more and try to find clues to determine their criminal motives and reasons.
So, I can place myself in the attitude of a criminal to comprehend their techniques and intentions to perceive what triggers them and stop them before they commit a crime again. There is so much to be learned from the world. I wish to know everything and do this until I am the best and eager to learn and practice, grow my mind and knowledge.
What topics or areas of study will you be focusing on in the coming year(s)?
Now technology has changed and most of the classes, webinars, e-commerce transactions and communications have shifted to computers, laptops, and mobiles. In the upcoming years, it will grow. Internet usage increased nearly 30-35% during the pandemic period, even the primary school students also attain classes online.
There are key areas for proficiency improvement that can help me improve my profitability and accomplish important aptitudes that can profit me in all forensic aspects. Setting aside effort for personal development can help me feel more confident at work. Even though it requires some effort to recognize areas I could work on, improvement can be a helpful pursuit.
It is a continuous fight of course in technology, social media, and all the things that are happening around. Long way to go, working hard, and working smart though would make it happen.
Cyber is a constantly developing field, which requires constant training and constant practice, and I would like to focus on this area. I feel proud and blessed to be a Citizen of India, cyber is my passion and I would like to educate individuals to avoid becoming a victim of any such dangerous scams that will happen, an individual has to remember cybercrimes are real, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you as well, and help police officials of India to assist them in cybercrime cases.
Again, owing to your range of experience in police stations, private companies, publishing, and legal services, what do you see as the primary investigative challenges for digital forensics examiners in India heading into the next decade?
Cybercriminals use technology for criminal tasks and to achieve their targets. To deal with digital crimes, the digital forensic examiner has to go through various challenges and make use of different tricks and various tools. Working with such tools raises lots of issues.
In the collection of digital evidence, there are no legitimate rules followed on account of this: they lose the capability of digital evidence. Sometimes, the suspect may reset the mobile device, the examiner faces challenges at the time of gathering evidence from the device. Sometimes the examiner has to gather evidence from messaging applications like WhatsApp, the examiner faces challenges in decrypting the database and it is a challenging problem in cybercrime investigation.
The insufficient resources being allocated towards digital forensics [is another challenge]. To effectively investigate digital evidence, having adequate tools is crucial. Within the four stages, i.e., Preservation, Acquisition, Analysis, and Reporting of a digital forensic process, digital forensics adopts tools to help forensic investigators.
But dealing with such tools is also a challenge. This limited investigator has to be educated and purchase the tools to effectively handle the complexity and quantity of evidence that modern digital forensics implies.
What challenges do Indian police have when it comes to working with judges, attorneys, and victims in cybercrime cases – both at home and internationally?
Police, advocates, and judges handle the prevention, justification, detection, investigation, and adjudication of cybercrime. Some states of India have the finest police officers who are doing very well, but they can do even better, in a cybercrime investigation.
To conduct a proper investigation, the data has to be available on request. Because most of the servers are internationally based, when the request is made through MLAT Agreement (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) the response should be available on time. If they delay the response, the Indian Police can do nothing.
Not only the digital forensic expert and police, but also attorneys and judges, require specialized knowledge of cybercrime and digital forensics. They need judiciary training on basic cybercrime and digital forensics information.
Indian IT Laws are not strict, the Central Government has come out with an extraordinary act “Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (PDPB)”, if this is going to be an act, then the cybercrime is going to be stopped. Because of all the companies, any service provider in India is supposed to store the data in India. If they store the data in India, the requested data can be easily available with no delay.
The Government of India recently established the National Forensic Sciences University in Gujarat. What is your perspective on how this will address cybercrime investigations and education across India?
National Forensic Sciences University is the world’s first and only university dedicated to Forensic, Behavioral, Cyber Security, Digital Forensics, and Allied Sciences. It is a highly specialized higher education institution, which is the only establishment of its kind dedicated to Forensic and Investigative Sciences.
NFSU also engages in providing training to officers of law enforcement agencies. To provide hands-on-training, NFSU runs in parallel association with the Directorate of Forensic Science of Gujarat State.
NFSU is engaged in teaching and research in different areas of Forensic Sciences. The laboratory has the latest equipment and instruments, and the university has established Asia’s first Cyber Defence Centre for education, training, and research in the areas of compacting cyberwar and cybersecurity. I am sure that in the coming year(s), we will deter heinous cybercrimes.
Tell us a little more about Nyayik Vigyan. Between training and publishing, what niche(s) does it fill in the industry?
Nyayik Vigyan, Be The Change That You Wish To See In The Forensic Science.
We are a creative and unique platform that loves to learn, collaborate, and create. Nyayik Vigyan is a platform that focuses on forensic science and its branches. We aim to provide forensic knowledge and connecting forensic students and experts; it works on forensic projects like Forensic Science Application, Forensic Games, Forensic Science & Criminology Articles, Forensic Journal Publication, etc.
Nyayik Vigyan is the first Indian platform that has started an initiative of an article published in the Forensic Science Application. We have published nearly 50+ unique articles.
At Nyayik Vigyan, we want to solve the biggest problems in Forensic Science.
- Forensic students need to know what they can do to build a career, how to use the knowledge, and from where to start.
- Researchers and scholars need to identify the best journal and determine where to allocate resources to reach them most effectively.
- Forensic tycoons need to know which things to implement in the development of Forensics, and where students need help.
- In Forensics, we need proper guidance and new initiatives to make informed decisions.
Nyayik Vigyan provides the most actionable ideas, we aim to make this opportunity available to as many students and Forensic Experts as possible.
The vision of Nyayik Vigyan is to become the most trusted name in forensics by offering solutions, unmatched services, and support for the growth of forensic experts and students. Our imagination is to set into action through unique projects with a successful accomplishment of all the projects in a stipulated timeframe while building a long-term relationship with forensic experts and students.
Aside from work, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I don’t focus completely on work for me, my work is not everything, focusing too much on career is self-sabotage. Apart from solving crimes, creating awareness about crimes, I am always trying to bring great value to our society as well.
And, while adding value, I will not forget to learn from others. I always keep my mind open to new ideas, views, and opinions. My education has not stopped at college, I have never stopped learning, I always incorporate new skills and learn new aspects. However, I always try to pick up some strategies that can improve my abilities, improve my mindset, and expand my network to levels that will increase my chances for success.
To be honest with you, in my spare time, I enjoy just lying on a couch or watching a movie. I want to be successful in life; I have to prioritize my bond with my friends and family members. My niece and nephew demand attention and I try to play with them, I try to be with them as much as I can. I love to spend time with my family and Bandar. No matter how much I want to be successful, I can’t neglect my friends and family.
I love to play puzzles because it provides many skills, cognitive learning and I like the way they challenge my thinking and it helps me to exercise my mind. I enjoy going for a walk, or a hike in nature. On weekends, however, I like to do short and long trips or ride my legendary Yezdi motorcycle.
Afrozulla Khan, Founder of Nyayik Vigyan and Owner of Forensic Science Application, is a Certified Cyber Warrior, self-taught Cyber-Crime Investigator, Researcher, and has helped individuals and police officials in dealing with cybercrime cases.
He has prior working experience in cybercrime with qualification as Masters in Criminology & Forensic Science. He serves as an Editor-In-Chief Nyayik Vigyan Journal of Forensic Research & Criminal Investigation (NVJFRCI); as a research paper reviewer of International Journal of Forensic Science, Medwin Publishers; and as an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Forensic Sciences and Criminal Investigation (JFSCI), Juniper Publishers.
He used to conduct Forensic Science and Cyber-Crime awareness programs among police officials, school-college students, and bank officials, etc.