What is Cyber-Security?
Cyber-Security refers to the act of protecting and ensuring the safety of computer systems and electronic devices from targeted cyber-attacks, opportunist malware (- viruses, trojans and bugs) or accidental introduction of malware by users. The global scale of cyber-threats continues to rise rapidly. In the modern day and age, access to volumes of data has gained currency, and hence every year, numerous attempts are made to breach data, and/or sensitive, confidential or classified records to expose information for political or economic gains. Effective cyber-security practices as a countermeasure, thus have become important. There are three types of cyber-threats -
- Cyber-Crime: wherein single actors or group of actors target systems for financial gains or to cause disruption
- Cyber-Attack: involves gathering information for political or economic means
- Cyber-Terrorism: aims to undermine electronic systems with an intent to instill fear or to cause panic
End-user Protection is an important aspect of cyber security. It is imperative to ensure that users are educated to protect their systems and themselves from cyber-threats. It is found that introduction to malware is (accidentally) often caused by users themselves. It is thus crucial that users are able to detect such malware, update their systems timely, and refrain from using unsecure networks.
Cyber security issues in India
India is home to a population which is rooted in diverse socio-economic backgrounds. As per the living standards of people, a wide range of devices are in use - from high-end secured electronic devices to low-cost mobile phones. This makes it difficult for authorities to set uniform legal and technical standards for regulating data-protection. Additionally, digital literacy and awareness among the population is also very low.
Risks of harm and threats for Children in a Digital age
Children and young people, globally, in an increasingly digitally connected world, are among the most active users of Internet and web-based services. It is estimated that 1 in 3 children worldwide use the internet, or, one can say that 1 in 3 internet users is a child under 18 years of age. Children tend to surf the web to access educational information and content for entertainment, to develop their digital skills to acquire new opportunities, or to maintain their online/digital identities and social relationships. However, increased access to information at various web-platforms also lead to increased exposure to materials which are neither age-appropriate nor suitable for children for viewing, and/or risks/threats that children face online. Owing to their young age and evolving development capabilities, children and young people are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at the hands of cyber-predators and perpetrators.
The COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions on mobility made digitisation the need of the hour. Closure of schools and a shift from attending classes in person to technology-based remote learning through virtual/digital education platforms not only dehumanized learning environments and distorted social interactions for children, but also isolated them in navigating the digital space. This new development increased childrens’ exposure to internet, virtual/digital media, exponentially and brought forth additional stressors related to their safety and protection online, consequently impacting their mental health and well-being. In this changed paradigm, novel child protection concerns have emerged – such as - digital addiction, cyber-bullying, access to/exploitation for pornographic material, prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse Material online (CSAM) etc. Additionally, social media platforms, chat rooms, computer games etc. open a “Pandora's-box” for children's safety and security. Often, parents and guardians lack digital-literacy and in most cases are unaware of the ill-effects of such exposure on mental and emotional well-being of children.