Cybersecurity: More than what it seems

Cybersecurity: More than what it seems

Gaurav Saxena, Chief Strategist & Director of Business Transformation at Insprago Digital Solutions and SPA member looks at why cybersecurity is not just a concern for corporations.

The security space has witnessed a drastic transformation over the past three decades, whether it is the type of threats, preventive models, or technology. Of all the changes, one of the most profound metamorphoses has been in the domain of cybersecurity. The biggest challenge for cybersecurity evolution is that not only are the old threats still prevalent and stronger, but new and innovative threats are growing out of technological advancement. Just a few decades ago, traditional cybersecurity was mainly focused on creating defensive barriers against malware and computer viruses, around fixed boundaries. However, as new data storage and connectivity technologies gain prominence, along with the amplified dependence on automation, the whole playing field has transformed. Not only that, but the players have changed, the rules, devices and even the game itself has changed.

Essentially, anyone with a smartphone, laptop, tablet or even a credit card is a potential victim; so practically, most of the modern population is a sitting duck for cybercriminals. Although everyone has various degrees of vulnerability, the people most at risk are children and the elderly. This is mainly because these demographics have the devices and technology but not enough knowledge or technical maturity to manage the digital perpetrators.

Almost all cases of successful online scams in the US and UK are targeted at people over 60 years or older; identity threats or financial scams target women; while most of the cyberbullying cases are encountered by preteens and teenagers. The current scenario appeals special focus on children, who are among the most vulnerable and where the psychological impact is far more long-lasting. One of the hunting grounds of cybercriminals is the online gaming platforms, metaverse spaces and socialising platforms. These criminals befriend children online and slowly gather as much personal information about them and their families while posing a fake front.

Once they have enough data on the child and even sensitive photos or videos, they will use this to blackmail and manipulate the child. A child’s brain is not yet developed enough to make sense of everything and therefore triggers massive amounts of trauma, anxiety, and depression, which leads to mental health disorders. Apart from this, there could be worse repercussions involving brainwashing for murders, mass shootings, self-harm, suicide and even terrorism. It is not enough to have antivirus, antimalware, or child-friendly device settings, because the criminals and their views are floating everywhere across the internet.

The child does not even have to interact with a criminal to be influenced. Reading blogs, articles, watching videos, listening to podcasts etc. is enough to manipulate their innocent minds. The responsibility for child protection is not with a cybersecurity expert or the authorities alone; in fact, the onus squarely sits with the parents, teachers, and other adults around a child. The most powerful line of defence is ‘knowledge’. Children and their caregivers must be sensitised, educated, and informed of the potential cyber threats lurking around in a harmless-looking device and how they can prevent, mitigate and defend against it. They also need to be trained on how a child should handle cyberspace safely and how to protect themselves. Ultimately, it is about how and what the human inputs are to a device that will determine the level of safety for the child and not the complacent dependence on software or hardware.