Cyber Hygiene for the Internet of Things: COVID & Beyond

With the Indian society locked down for another 15 days since yesterday we need to think about the evolving utility of the internet in the lives of Indians today, and are we prepared legally to tackle the evolving trends and govern the internet just like any other aspect of human life?

It is an estimate that post-COVID-19 world will be more about the Internet of Things, and Indians have absolutely adopted to the IoT way of life during this lockdown. We see there is an incremental growth in the data consumption levels which means that internet is not only our source of information but it is the new conference room, the new cafeteria, the new classroom, the new boardroom and it is the new marketplace as well as it is the new bank!

All these changes mean that internet has become the new centre of every Indian life and has crept in everywhere from the tier-1 cities to the remotest of the villages! We are seeing more of book launches, seminars, concerts and lectures being held online which earlier were held in an auditorium or a stadium, now this means that internet is creating new avenues of revenue generation.

Thousands of people all over the world have gone to the internet ot showcase their creative talents be it painting, singing, cooking, writing, podcasting or even acting. All of these activities have exponentially increased the ordinary amount of time spent on the internet by people all over the globe and this means a lot of our intercourse on the internet is treading on hot waters and is prey to not only psycopaths but also hackers who can use the internet to perpetrate crimes which are very tough to brought to justice.

India today is consuming 308 Petabytes of data on a daily basis, which means we are exposed to not just a harvest of free floating data but are in the dire need of some cyber hygiene to evolve right now.

Our cyber crimes cells of various police departments and our cyber security space is not very good and we have seen many lapses in the recent past where the data from government servers and even the hack on Zoom conferences were seen.

Today with the evolution of usage of the internet the kinds of crimes are also increasing with the day like cyber bullying, sextortion, identity frauds and the most frequent phishing and malware attacks. Our cyber security awareness is very negligible while the usage of anti-virus and internet security applications is also very small.

The cyber security cells of our police departments are under staffed and lack the technical know how, lodging a complaint and an FIR in the matters of cyber crimes is also a very cumbersome task as well as there exists some kind of lack of cyber awareness where people must keep a tab of the IP addresses and the screenshots to create the evidence supporting their claims as well.

The new arena of cyber bullying and cyber harassment is a new series of crimes which go unreported and in most cases the perpetrator in India is hardly brought to justice. Such incidents including shaming on social media have led to a lot suicides and in the lockdown epoch the psychological well being of our netizens is also at risk.

Beyond this the internet of things which certainly is an extension of the human imaginative faculty has its own underworld or the dark web and pornography along with e-prostitution. All these activities go around in the light web as well, yet the dark web offers an atmosphere just like some alley you wouldn’t intend to walk on! The dark web has a market place of its own and information of its own which you cannot access easily on the light web, while the risks the over-exposure to information and the security risks underlying such websites hasn’t been tackled with by our governments.

The IT Act of 2000 and the enforcement of the clauses therein is utterly ineffective and reporting a cyber crime is a task. The people find it tough at the police station to understand an FIR in English all over India, and when it is about reporting a cyber crime, the crime will hardly be understood with all the technicalities and the terms involved, since the investigators are not too many, and if there are any they aren’t available across the districts.

In the COVID & post-COVID world we shall have to take the cyber hygiene more seriously and just like any other crime we shall have to append the same level of gravity to cyber crimes as well. Our media must also make it sure that they ramp up the awareness programmes about cyber hygiene and create some impact which shall certainly save lives and we will move towards a Swachh Internet in Bharat!

Another big problem on the internet is zoom-bombing which is more of a prank but creates another dimension of problems for too many people.