A HOLLOW SPACE IN DIGITAL INDIA

Parismita Borah

AN OPEN LETTER TO HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA

CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS – A HOLLOW SPACE IN DIGITAL INDIA

HON’BLE NARENDRA MODI SIR,

Digitization is changing our lives for better, but also creating new opportunities for criminals. If necessary measures are not taken, the chance of falling prey to a hacker is high.

Lack of cybersecurity awareness is among the top causes of a security breach. People are still using usernames, IDs, important dates (birthday, anniversary, etc.), friends or parents name or common phrases like “password”, “qwerty”, “abcdef123456” etc. or any dictionary word as passwords. These are often the intruder tries first. Moreover, software solutions exist to check all possible dictionary words until the match is found.

Two other common mistakes are: using the same password on multiple websites and carelessly following a link received in an email or SMS for logging into a website thereby becoming a phishing victim. In phishing, the attacker tries to collect sensitive information such as debit/credit card details, login details (like usernames, passwords, etc.) by pretending as someone else, often masquerades as a trustworthy entity, e. g. an employee of a bank, payment processors or as such. The attacker may use email, phone, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. as the platform. With the social engineering approach, an attacker may lure people into divulging confidential information. Social engineering is often related to a confidence trick.

We are still not immune to hoax or rumors spread through social media. Failing to differentiate the truth, we not only consume fake news, but also spread hoax by sharing without any second thought. The viral nature of social media contents may amplify the impact causing panic. The criminal may also use social media to spread offensive propaganda.

Web applications processing sensitive consumer data are on the rise. But not all take security seriously. So gaining unauthorized access to any application is comparatively easy putting privacy at risk. Regulations compelling any application, processing sensitive personal information to go through a security scrutiny will be helpful.

Experience of Indians in using Information & Communication Technology (ICTs) is not quite good. With infrastructure moving digital, without proactive measures, there is a great threat to national security. We think that Digital India initiative has the power to revolutionize our country, but only with cybersecurity at the top priority. Humans are among the weakest link in cybersecurity and promoting awareness will greatly reduce the risk.

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