Time for Digital India to Redefine its Internet Security

March 10, 2016 Off By ridhi

Indian internet users have never failed to surprise us by their behavior in the virtual world. As security experts, we have come up with effective internet security solutions to keep their virtually defined social world safe. Nonetheless, risk taking is a part of human behavior where users reveal a lot of “private information” to the “unknown public.” We have been informing our audience time and again on the top 10 internet security tips to be followed whether they are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social platforms where data privacy is important.

Internet security goes beyond tips. Addressing our audience on top 10 internet security tips is just one of the tools to make them aware of the potential threats the virtual world pose. Internet is a world not defined by boundaries. It connects anyone and everyone. Global companies have revolutionized the way people interact and at the same exposed them to a lot of risks. And, risk awareness has only been limited to the online world. And, it is time that a collaborative ground effort from the global giants, governments and people contribute towards a safe virtual world.

Just few days back Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) blocked Facebook’s controversial Free Basics and opted for Net Neutrality. The money spent on Free Basics was “visibly visible.” The campaign lost out to a market that has the second largest user base in the world behind China but is ranked first as the largest internet users in a free market democratic setup.

A senior official from Google recently said that Internet users in India will touch 500 million by 2017, of which 400 million will be mobile users. India has been an interesting and concurrently a difficult market for technological companies. It is a country where you need to have a social and economic impact on a population before making your idea work. Indians objectively relate to ideas like basics, freedom, security, internet and social networking.

In 2015, urban and rural India gave thumbs up to PM Narendra Modi’s Digital India drive and few days back a village in Gujarat banned single women from using mobile phones calling it a nuisance to society. The Google analysis identified mobile users as the largest group of internet users in India. At the same time, the country is forbidding a gender from becoming a part of mobile technology and an overall part of Digital India. Confusing isn’t it? This is India… and something which global giants like Facebook should have looked into.

In 2012, Facebook allowed access to under-13s in a bid to boost revenue, leaving the security implications for parents to deal with. The same day, UK Daily Mail news cited that there is a Facebook crime every 40 minutes in the United Kingdom. Considering the growing rate of internet users, it is very difficult to gauge the alarming rate at which Facebook crime occurs in India. India is the second biggest market for Facebook globally after the US. However, like the US and the UK, India has not been able to theoretically measure the impact of social networks on users. Global giants like Facebook can do a lot towards spreading a message that will redefine internet security solution in the social networking world today. Internet security that goes beyond core protection, malware protection, firewall, secure banking, parental control and web security amongst others. Instead of focusing on Free Basics, a country like India should be socially informed about the impact of social networking and do’s and don’ts of socializing in a virtual world.

As a modest start, we should try and address a population that spends more than 24 hours a week online. Fueled by increasing use of smartphones, teenagers have a tendency to reveal a dangerous amount of information on Facebook. Unlike other nations, the legal framework of India does not allow anyone under the age of 18 years to join any social network, and for some reasons, it is a matter of great pride for kids to join these networks creating profiles with fake ages. Studies in the UK and the US reveal that it is unlikely that the number of Facebook users who are secretly under 13 will drop; if anything, it’ll rise. And, if we have to protect them we have to restrategize the way teenagers use social platforms like Facebook.

Facebook has effectively addressed issues on bullying, suicide prevention, reporting abuse, tools for addressing abuse and tools for addressing parents and educators in the past. However, it is time that Facebook goes beyond just virtual engagement and addresses such issues, by involving its growing community in real life. Facebook should address such concerns through workshops in rural and urban India. More than Free Basics, it is these workshops that will allow global giants like Facebook to connect with its user base in a more effective manner.

Further, there exists a significant technological gap between parents and children. Kids find it very easy to lie to their parents and use social media channels for their benefits. They consider it as their world not governed by any restrictions or laws. This gap can be effectively addressed when we educate parents about the implications of social media and the laws that govern children’s involvement with social media. Parents should be informed about whether their kids are headed in the right direction and surfing the way they should. Furthermore, installing a good antivirus product that provides robust internet security with parental control is essential for every household.

Finally, the Government’s efforts to create a Digital India should be backed by an equally strong and exhaustive law on cyber security. Every internet user should be made aware that creating false electronic records is an offence under the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code. Under Section 465, the offence would attract punishment up to two years’ imprisonment and if the account so opened is used for the purpose of cheating, it would be punishable with a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment.

Ignorance of the law should not be made an excuse for cybercrimes. It is time to responsibly define our internet security in a connected and united world.

Informing our audience is our duty. Watch out for more information on Top 10 internet security tips on our Quick Heal Blog