COMBATING CYBER THREATS AND CHALLENGES

The world is rapidly stepping toward digitalization in the 21st century which is increasing rapid Cyber Crimes. We explore using the internet which made life easy and comfortable. We explore the unknowns and communicate with virtually anyone, anytime, anywhere across the globe. Digital space has opened doors to cybercriminals and mostly women and children are their target. 

In the Covid-19 pandemic, cybercrime has emerged as a major challenge facing law enforcement agencies worldwide because cyber-attacks are unexpected, unknown, unseen, and unapproachable. 

According to reports and complaints, massive growth in Cyber Bullying has been seeing which reveals an increasing number of parents have children who have experienced some form of cyberbullying. In Russia and Japan, parents expressed extremely high levels of confidence that their children did not experience cyberbullying of any kind. 

Across Europe and the Americas, it appears more parents are either becoming aware of their children’s negative experiences with cyberbullying, or their children are increasingly experiencing such attacks online. 

Meanwhile, Indian parents remained among the highest to express confidence that their children were cyberbullied at least once. It is really shocking to see India which holds rank 3 in cybersecurity awareness programs worldwide also holds the No. 1 position in Cyber Bullying across the world. 

Take a look at the Ipsos international survey report of 2018 where Cyber bullying is most prevalent. 

As we have seen the massive growth in Cyberbullying across the globe, every day other types of cyber cases such as cyber extortion, morphing, cyberstalking, scams, harassment, blackmailing, threatening and pornography are also increasing rapidly, especially against women & children. 

Social media’s trending hashtag campaign “Couple Challenge” is highly dangerous and actually a threat to the “Privacy” but millions of people have participated in it and posted their photos with a couple on different social media platforms with couple challenge hashtag even without knowing the fact that this cute hashtag is a major privacy concern and their photos may be misused for morphing, deep fake, revenge and so on. In India, so many complaints have also come in this regard. Cops have accepted and said that they received several complaints from people who have suffered harassment as their photographs and personal information were misused after they were morphed and uploaded on “obscene websites” by criminal elements due to reasons like rivalry or thwarted romantic advances. Even in India, Police urged people to be cautious and careful about “couple challenge” on social media. The lack of awareness and tendency of following trending social media activities lead people towards cybercriminals. 

One of the main reasons for the rapid growth in cyber-crimes is the Covid-19 pandemic. Nowadays, due to COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is dependent on the internet. Schools, colleges, offices, and almost everything is happening virtually and cybercriminals are taking advantage of it to bully, harass, abuse, blackmail people online. Women and children are easy targets because they are “unaware about the safety measures & procedures of reporting a cyber-crime”. Massive awareness needs to be created among women and children regarding the safe use of mobile phones, computers, and the internet. 

The biggest challenge in front of the world is “Data” and its “Privacy” because data is the new gold and privacy is our fundamental right. We are living in a virtual world where each and every activity is being monitored by the apps we use. Maximum uses of smartphones are giving an advantage to the companies and these companies are taking unnecessary permissions to get our data, activities, and interests, etc to make money. 

All companies have data, such as personnel files, customer data, product information, financial transactions, etc. Decisions management makes are based on this data as are the work processes followed by employees to deliver quality products and services. In fact, data is one of the most important assets a company has. For that reason alone, data protection should be a top priority for any company. This includes guarding the availability of the data to employees who need it, the integrity of the data (keeping it correct and up-to-date), and the confidentiality of the data (the assurance that it is available only to people who are authorized). 

Everything we do online reveals small pieces of our real existence. We enter our name, first names, last names, home address in a multitude of forms along with contact numbers, information on past education and employment. We search for information about articles we are interested in, we buy online and we enter all kinds of information and opinions on social media. All websites where we enter this data get to know very small parts of us. 

There are companies linking together all of that little bit information about us that we have entered in various websites over the years. This data leads to a very detailed personal profile, which greatly helps to personalize direct marketing very specifically to us. This way advertising can be directed to the products and services we have thought about, slowly nudging us and seducing us into a purchase. More dangerous is that such a profile can also be used for political purposes. History has taught us that detailed knowledge of people’s ethnic background and political or religious beliefs can, in the wrong hands, literally be life-threatening. 

Another application of online profiles is the search profile Google uses to personalize our search results. Using the search history and the list of cookies on our device, combined with our geographical location and other information they have on us, Google will try to predict which information we want to see. That is why, when looking for information about the Netherlands, some people will get information about holiday destinations, and other information about the political and economic situation in the country. 

Look at the graph above. Apps take non-core permissions from their users’. In the image, you can see a popular entertainment app in India called “Hotstar” which takes the permission of even “Body sensors” of its user which makes these apps highly suspicious because what is the use of “Body sensors” for an entertainment app, not a fitness one. It shows how our Privacy is at high risk. Therefore, we should always avoid installing new and untrusted apps without reading their terms, policies, and permissions. 

Apart from apps, companies are smartly making games like PubG which affect children psychologically and make them violent and aggressive in behavior. In India, there are many cases where children and the teen even killed their relative’s in-game addiction. A Karnataka based boy killed his father because he stopped him to play PubG. In the national capital New Delhi, a 19-year old boy stabs his family 33 times in addition to the PubG game. This game had become a major challenge in India, therefore recently Government of India banned PubG game along with 117 Chinese apps which is a good move to protect the future of children from such games which is not just spoiling their career but also took many lives. 

Nitin Pandey 

Chairman national Information Security Council Cyber Crime Investigator | Professional 

India, Lucknow  

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