Online and Offline Information Security Awareness

The campaign was instituted in order to bridge the technical and legal divide that rural India faces. Over the span of around one hundred workshops we have conducted for school kids, college students, parents, teachers, professionals and the community members starting at the very basic panchayat (village) level.

Parallel to this, an online drive was started in the form of The Cyber Blog India (www.cyberblogindia.in) that took to the cause of spreading awareness online . It has operated successfully for one year now without serving ads or clogging the user experience.

On the ground issues about the Internet and technology that people face have been addressed, for example the myths that people have about viruses, chat messengers, browsers etc.

Cyber Crime documentation drive has also been a part of this campaign along with a free WhatsApp helpline to facilitate legal help and advice to the victims of Cyber Crime who have no precedent and idea about how to proceed.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

To spread awareness among the citizens about Cyber Crime, its growing nature and the effects.

To inculcate the spirit of Cyber Security and Cyber Law as career options among kids.

To provide technical and legal help to victims.

To document Cyber Crime and its impacts in India on the ground as compared to the Governmental Statistics released yearly.

To make the population of India proactive and ready to protect themselves from Cyber Crime on their own.

To create a sustainable ecosystem in Schools and Colleges where they feel safe and comfortable in talking to their parents or through us about the crimes that happen against them, like Cyber Bullying, which is a growing menace for Indian kids.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

Nothing can happen just offline or online and keeping that in mind, the campaign was taken up at both levels.

* Workshops were conducted in schools, customized to their need: in languages that they understood and the time that they could allow.
* 120 blog posts have been written during this time span on the issues of Cyber Security, Forensics and Cyber Law.
* Mini Campaigns under this banner have been conducted online called: Get her Online, Change Your Defaults and Digital India Myths.
* Surveys in the form of pre-workshop questionnaires have been conducted to get to know the real state of mind of people.
* Citizen group empowerment has been done in order to train them about how to handle Cyber Crime.
* A First Responders kit to Cyber Crime has been created and delivered at the workshops to all participants.
* Case study based analysis and delivery has been done to make people understand the intricacy of Cyber Crime and its nature.
* More than 270 victims helped.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

* It became the first ever online and offline drive in the country to work on this issue.
* WhatsApp was used most uniquely (interfaced to different people) to interact with teenagers and youngsters in the way they are most comfortable, which improved responses.
* Starting of Cyber Blog India clubs in schools and colleges as a central place to handle incidents as well as disseminate knowledge about new happenings and internship and job opportunities in the sector.
* Age no bar and location no bar workshops conducted even at remote locations with audience as few as 8.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

* Helped hundreds of victims online by leading them to necessary authorities and often by clearing their doubts.
* Roughly 20,000 people reached in the last one year, given the fact that all of this was done along with pursuing an academic degree with regular 30+ credit hours.
* Invited to the annual summit of Principals of Indian States of Uttarakhand and UP to deliver a talk about Cyber Security.
* Cases reported through helpline and surveys created a significant baseline study on Cyber Crime in India, which is to date the only Governmental figures and not at all the reality.
* A few of the attendees went ahead and have started a career in Cyber Security adding to the much needed workforce in India.
* Citizen groups in isolated areas have kept in touch and regularly interacted with queries and about cases.
* Awarded on 28th July, 2015 by Maharashtra State Government, Mumbai Police Cyber Crime Wing, IIT Bombay and Asian School of Cyber Law for the online blog.

CHALLENGES FACED

* Financials: Since all of this was done in the capacity of a student in the fourth year of undergraduate study, money throughout has been a problem.
* Language: India, being very diverse, houses many cultures and people that understand different languages. However I have been limited to English, Hindi, Pahari and French.
* Different levels of understanding: Some tech-savvy people understand faster while the others take time.
* Legal Constraints: People, who have even tried to report cases as victims have not been able to get convictions due to the system being complex and the policies being what they are.
* Preoccupations: People often believe that we know or we are safe just because of a simple security measure they are using.
* Lack of (updated) Awareness: Awareness might exist sometimes but often it is not up to date.

LESSONS LEARNT

Awareness and Sensitization is the key to Cyber Safety.
During all this time, this is the biggest lesson that has been learnt. People have reported in many cases as to how they have been saved from a crime just because they listened to something said in the workshop and that in itself is a big feeling of achievement.

It is easy to talk and there are bad times too but the ultimate is making sense in what is said and delivering all available content and if that is not possible, connecting the audience to yourself to finish the delivery.