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Importance of Cyber Security - By Saishree T.S VIII-A

Safety is the number two priority for humans right after physiological needs of air, water, food, clothing in Maslow’s triangle. But security is not limited to stable employment and health but also extends to security in the online and digitally connected world today. Today we hear about several attacks on privacy, leaks of personal information, ransomware attacks and hacks that disrupt our lives. Recently French IT service provider Sopra Steria was attacked by ransomware on 20th October 2020 that encrypted all of its data. Even in today’s news, we heard about hackers demanding 70 million dollars from US IT company Kaseya, that provides service to many US companies. Cyber attackers have sponsorships and have more ideas on how to do phishing attacks, data breach and ransomware attacks. Ransomware attacks rose 148% in March and the average ransomware payment rose by 33% to $111,605 as compared to Q4 2019. (Source: Fintech News). With COVID-19, the office, home and outside networks have blended that makes data theft and cyber-attacks easier. This leads to loss of millions of dollars for breached organizations and significant hardships including loss of privacy and loss of savings for individuals. Hence it is much more critical at this time to pay attention to the various forms of attacks and protect our citizens, organizations and society as a whole.

Technology influence

Mobile devices are a boon to the society as well as cybercriminals. In addition, these devices do not have strong security controls that making it easy for attackers to target these devices. Cybercriminals can target mobile devices to steal credentials, send malicious advertisements and also install surveillance applications that monitor the activity from the phone devices. Different malware types are popular for their ability to switch off Google Protect security features of android devices in order to steal financial details from users. Over a very short time, the number of cyber-attacks targeting mobile devices has escalated due to increased use of mobile banking technology. Mobile devices also have location sensors, access to security PIN and emails that making it easy for stealing all the information about the users. Cybercriminals can track money transactions, steal financial information and threaten victims by wiping out their bank accounts. These devices also have access to contact lists that makes spreading attacks easier to other social networks. It is critical that when we buy mobile technology, we must ensure it has the necessary security controls for sharing information, encryption of data, ability to track devices and wipe them remotely

Children as targets

One of the major targets for cybercrime are teenagers and children of various age groups. Children spend more time online and it is estimated that a child goes online every half second for the first time. Also, the increased opportunity with possession of smart phones, computers, gaming consoles and smart televisions, children are exposed to a wide range of internet activity both good and bad. Chat rooms are one of the common places for sexual predators who take advantage of young people by threatening them or abusing them. Also, children can be victims of cyber marketing and result in privacy breach as children may unintentionally share their information with strangers which may be later used in undesirable ways. Also often times these mechanisms are hard to monitor for parents resulting in widespread attacks.

One of the common types of cybercrimes is cyberbullying among peers or folks in the same social media group. These acts result in depression, mental stress and can even lead to suicidal attempts.

This not only directly impacts children who are victims of such crimes it also exposes other children who are passively witnessing the same. The other common type of attack is sexual exploitation of children who are forced to produce or distribution of explicit content. Also, children imitate others to produce their own explicit imagery and may end in the wrong hands in the internet. So, it is important to monitor our children as well as educate our children to avoid such abuses.

Role of parents, teachers and children

Teachers and parents must educate themselves about these cybercrime methodologies so that they can spread that awareness to children as well as other peers in their parent and teacher groups. It is critical for schools to have curriculum to formally educate children about the dangers of cybersecurity so that they can protect themselves as monitoring can be hard. In addition, teachers and parents must have regular conversations with children to check on what they are up to when they are using computers and mobile phones. It is also a good idea to limit the time that children spend on the computers and mobile devices by engaging them in other physical activities. Also, parents must exercise the right security controls on these devices so that children don’t accidentally trip over and become victims of these attacks. One of the few techniques is to ensure that the networks are protected with passwords, setting up multi-factor authentication including the parents' phones in the authorization process, monitoring and rate limiting the usage of data. In addition, have a good peer network and counsellors can go a long way in protecting children from becoming victims of cybercrimes.

In summary, cybercrimes are a new age topic that needs attention from all parties to avoid major loss in the society. We must continuously take steps to protect ourselves from these attacks given online usage is a basic necessity at this time.