Cyber World Essays



Dinesh Varma’s Cyber Puzhukkalum Poombattakalum, which translates into ‘Cyber Caterpillars and Butterflies’, is an interesting collection of approximately six essays on the cyber world. The author has brought out an eminently readable and non-academic study that throws light on social networking for the ignorant, the greenhorn, as well as the almost-savvy among cyber citizens.

The book is certainly not about Facebook alone, as one is apt to imagine in connection with any thought on social networks these days. It touches upon the various other social networking platforms too, such as Twitter, MySpace, Orkut, Google Plus, Linked In and YouTube, among the others in use.

In about a hundred pages, the author takes us through the social dimensions of cyber networks, their origins, their baby-hiccups, growth, and in some cases like Orkut, their near-death for the Indian origin user.

The very first essay, in fact, deals with the pros and cons of the connection between social networks and society; and refers to the various studies and incidents which point to how the two entities are now entangled.

There is a whole essay devoted to Facebook, but that’s only to be expected, considering the huge numbers of Facebook users and aspirants among the Malayalam-speaking folk. This essay, titled ‘Samoohya Shrunghala Jalakam’ or ‘Social Networking Window’ discusses in some detail almost all you would want to know about using Facebook. One new thing a veteran Facebooker like me learnt from this book was about the Social Memories concept on offer.

The book presents interesting snippets to the neo-literates among webizens. Did you know sixdegrees.com was the very first of social networks? And that Orkut was named after a Turkish software engineer Orkut Büyükkökten who worked with Google, and who had designed the concept of this social network? And in case you are a post-Orkut, and currently-on-Facebook infant, it would be news to you when the author links the block buster film Classmates (Malayalam) to the surge of Orkut among the netizens of Kerala. And did you know Orkut still prevails in about 43 languages across the world?

There is predictably an entire chapter on the ‘Arab Spring’. Another fascinating topic touched upon in the book is about how the ‘freedom of the crowds’ has created a new kind of politics. Perhaps this becomes all the more relevant in the post-hustings scenario in India, where the social media has been used like never before in managing opinions.

Dinesh has steered clear of using convoluted lingo and laid out his arguments and observations in an uncomplicated and well thought-out manner. A crisp note by cyber expert V.K. Adarsh endorses the place of the book in the current social scenario.

Cyber Puzhukkalum Poombattakalum

Dinesh Varma

Rs.95

Deshabhimani Book House

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The importance of cyber security in modern Internet age

The internet has become the integral part of today’s generation of people; from communicating through instant messages and emails to banking, travelling, studying and shopping, internet has touched every aspect of life. With the growing use of the internet by people, protecting important information has become a necessity.  A computer that is not having appropriate security controls can be infected with malicious logic and thus any type of information can be accessed in moments. Number of infected Web Pages and malicious websites can be seen every day that infects the computer and allow hackers to gain illegal access to other computer systems.

Hacking of important data, network outages, computer viruses and other cyber related threats affect our lives that range from minor inconvenience to serious incidents. Cyber threats can be caused due to negligence and vulnerabilities, or unintentional accidents. Nevertheless, they can also be planned or intentional, like hacking or access by unauthorized users. The main objectives of such type of system attackers or hackers are to steal confidential information, to make illegal monetary transactions, to destroy or to change data and the like. System attackers can be terrorists, crackers or recreational hackers. They have a variety of tools that can harm or infect the computer; usually they use malicious logic or virus to gain unauthorized access to a computer. Opening email attachments that carry the virus, clicking malicious links or websites or unintentionally downloading a dangerous program are common ways through which a computer can be infected and data can be stolen.

 As the number of data networks, digital applications, as well as internet and mobile users are growing, so do the chances of cyber exploitation and cyber crimes. Even a small mistake in securing data or bad social networking can prove to be extremely dangerous. If accounts are not properly secured, it makes easier for hackers or unauthorized users to spread viruses or social engineered attacks that are designed to steal data and even money. Such types of issues highlight the need for cyber security as an essential approach in protecting and preventing data from being used inappropriately.

In simple language, Cyber Security or Information technology security means protecting data, networks, programs and other information from unauthorized or unintended access, destruction or change. It can be also be defined as all operations and activities that are undertaken to minimize threats and any kind of vulnerabilities, and enforcing required policies for prevention, data assurance, recovery and other cyber security related operations. It encompasses all the mechanisms and processes that protect digital equipment, information and records from illegal or unintended access, manipulation or destruction.

In today’s dynamic environment, cyber security has become vital for individuals and families, as well as organizations (such as military, government, business houses, educational and financial institutions, corporations and others) that collect and store a wide range of confidential data on computers and transmit that to other computers across different networks. For families, protection of children and family members from cyber crime has become substantially important. For an individual, protecting information that could impact social life as well as personal finance is essential. The internet has provided a wide array of learning opportunities, but there are risks too. Photos, videos and other personal information shared by an individual on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter can be inappropriately used by others may lead to serious and even life-threatening incidents. Social networking sites have become the most popular medium for sharing information and connecting with other people. But these sites have created varied opportunities for cyber crimes, compromised personal identities and information leakage. Therefore, it is important for individuals to understand how to protect against cyber threats, and must also comprehend the difference between virtual and real world. One should learn how to protect computers and personal information from being hacked and should engage in appropriate online behaviour in order to eliminate changes of cyber threats and thereby creating a safer online environment.

Business organizations, mainly small and medium-size face critical challenges in protecting data. Limited financial and technological resources make it difficult for them to upgrade security system and to stay updated with technology. However, better awareness towards cyber security and proper planning can prove to be very beneficial for such business organizations in protecting their information and trade secrets from being disclosed. Many small business organizations are now taking initiatives to protect their information from being accessed illegally.

Cyber security is equally important for local, state, and central government as these organizations maintain a huge amount of confidential data and records concerning the country and its citizens. Yet several government organizations face difficulty in protecting data because of inadequate secured infrastructure, limited funding and lack of security awareness. Stealing of confidential data or sensitive information, digital by terrorists from government organizations, as well as digital spying can lead to serious threats on a country. For this reason, cyber security is of paramount importance for government organizations also and is a vital asset to the nation

The increasing use of the internet and social media has made cyber security even more important that it was before. Growing cyber threats such as data theft, phishing scams and other cyber vulnerabilities demand that users should remain vigilant about protecting data. It is essential to understand the varied type of risks and vulnerabilities that exists in the Internet world. For every user, it is important to think before connecting to someone using online medium. Users should also think prior to sharing any information with other users through the internet.

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