“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”.
- Bill Gates, founder, Microsoft
The first question that might arise in reader's mind is “What prompted us to write this blog?” In the following sections, we will dedicate ourselves to explain the reasons for writing about cyber world, cyber-crimes and the necessity for the same.
Is Our Curriculum Up-to Date?
In higher classes, some forms of coding be it C++, Java, Hyper Text Mark-up Language, Informatics Practices or similar derivative were taught.
Neither of these courses really empowered a student to protect himself or herself from online adversaries. Even cyber-crimes of the lower order like stalking, bullying, vishing etc. cannot be tackled efficiently with the current syllabus we have in our schools. The computer knowledge being taught today is hardly practical as overwhelming majority of us never used the knowledge we acquired in our school days. Worse, it did not arm us with tools and techniques to protect ourselves from the malicious cyber elements, we will be facing for the rest of our lives. It’s no surprise that the cyber-crimes in India are increasing by leaps and bounds.
With a dramatic reduction in the prices of smart-phones, the first point of contact with the internet has seen a sharp decline. Ten years before, a working salaried person may not have had a smart-phone. However today, children as young as ten years old are using smart-phones and perhaps even laptops/ desktops to connect to the virtual world. Activities like school projects, sometimes compel a student to reach out for online resources!
A hacker is most likely to target a less tech savvy user than anyone else. Thus, children are the most preferred target for a cyber-criminal especially for sexual abusers and pedophiles.
However, the syllabus in our schools has remained the same or seen marginal improvements with regards to know-how to tackle the cyber-crimes. Thus, our most potential targets are the least prepared to tackle these threats. Recent reports suggest that the cyber-crimes against children and the population in general, have increased astronomically. Let’s take a look at the following suggestive data:
Perhaps few Indian Penal Code crime in India has ever risen by 85% in a given year. It shows that the threat cyber-crimes possess is truly worrisome. Also, the threat is not only limited to becoming target of a cyber-criminal but also committing a cyber-crime unknowingly.
In another article, experts expressed concerns that 90% of the cyber-crimes in India go un-reported.
One of the reasons for poor reporting is the inability to even detect the crime, leave aside the preparedness to counter them.
Indian Position in Cyber Arena:
Between USA and Japan, the torch bearers in cyber technologies, lies India. We researched and compared the preparedness levels of students of India vis-à-vis USA and Japan, in their abilities to counter the cyber threats. The results were as follows.
Various online articles and writings, suggested that an average American or Japanese student is far better equipped to deal with the potential cyber dangers than an Indian user. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security in USA is playing an active and crucial role in this regard. The excerpt below illustrates the same:
India too requires a conducive environment for the cyber education to penetrate the masses. The state and the schools shall have to play the most crucial role in this process. A properly designed curriculum coupled with hands-on practice will go a long way tackling these cyber-crimes.
While some may argue that avoiding children access to smart-phones and similar devices will solve the problem, we find the following flaws with this line of thought. Firstly, cyber is a “genie” which cannot be now put back in the bottle, so at some point in their lives they will interact with the virtual world. So, better and long term solution lies in preparing them for the adversary rather than delaying the first point of contact, which only delays the problem but doesn’t address it.
Secondly, it’s near impossible to ensure that a child never accesses a smart-phone. Thirdly, situations like a school project may require a child to use the internet.
Financial Prospects in the Cyber World:
Under this head we will discuss the financial and career prospects in the cyber field. Consider the following article below.
The cyber field is an extremely emerging arena which has seen an incessant explosion since 1990s. In less than 30 years, it has come to control almost every discipline including defence, economy, finance, communication etc. In fact, the cyber economy has already surpassed the brick and mortar institutions. The data below may surprise you.
The figure above suggests that the knowledge economy is getting more and more powerful with time. It’s very likely that the trends will continue, and IT Firms will continue to over-take other sectors of economy. Given the trends, by the end of 2026, all the top 10 companies in the world in terms of market capitalisation will be IT firms!
So, one sector that holds the maximum potential is cyber. Also, this sector is not as crowded as others like engineering, medical, teaching, Chartered Accountants etc.
The possible career options in cyber domain include:
In fact, this sector is so rapidly expanding that it’s near impossible to list down all the career options! The biggest employers of cyber professionals are:
Recently, various posts have been created in the government sector also, including in e-governance, e-learning, DRDO, CERT-IN, as forensic experts, specialised pen-tester, cyber security architect, database administrator etc. So, government jobs are also being created in this field in large numbers. With the explosion of the virtual world, jobs creation in this sector in an inevitable phenomenon.
The best cyber-experts capabilities include:
May 2017: WannaCry ransom-ware attack started on Friday, 12 May 2017, and has been described as unprecedented in scale, infecting more than 2,30,000 computers in over 150 countries.
June 2015: The records of 21.5 million people, including Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, addresses, fingerprints and security-clearance-related information, were stolen from the United States Office of Personnel Management. Most of the victims were employees of the United States government and unsuccessful applicants to it. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post reported that government sources believe the hacker is linked to the Government of China.
July 2015: The servers of extra-marital affairs website Ashley Madison were breached.
October 2014: The White House computer system was hacked. It was said that the FBI, the Secret Service and other U.S. intelligence agencies categorized the attacks as "among the most sophisticated attack ever launched against the U.S. government systems."
February 2014: The Bitcoin exchange, “Mt. Gox” filed for bankruptcy after $460 million was apparently stolen by hackers due to "weaknesses in their system" and another $27.4 million went missing from its bank accounts.
2013: The social networking website Tumblr was attacked by hackers. Consequently, 6,54,69,298 unique emails and passwords were leaked from Tumblr.
2012: A Saudi hacker 0XOMAR, published over 4,00,000 credit cards online, and threatened Israel to release 1 million credit cards in the future.
June 2012: The social networking website LinkedIn was hacked and passwords for nearly 6.5 million user accounts were stolen by cyber-criminals.
September 2011: Bangladeshi hacker TiGER-M@TE made a world record in defacement history by hacking 700,000 websites in a single shot.
August 2007: United Nations website was hacked by Turkish Hacker Kerem125.
The list goes on!