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Code Warriors: Safeguarding the Digital Frontier

New Delhi: Let’s embark on a journey into the intricate realm of the digital economy, where every keystroke reverberates across continents, and data flows like a never-ending ceaseless river. As a cyber-expert, and data privacy enthusiast, we all stand at the precipice of innovation and vulnerability, guarding against unseen adversaries in the virtual shadows. The digital economy, with its promise of boundless connectivity and prosperity, also unfurls a tapestry of risks—cybersecurity threats that loom over our collective future. In this age of algorithms and algorithms of ages, let us delve into the heart of this matter, where binary code dances with national security, and where vigilance is not merely a duty but a lifeline for our interconnected existence.

So, If I ask you to imagine a world, where your DATA is safeyour PRIVACY is respectedand your ONLINE activities are secure.

Is that kind of world possible in today’s era? If it is “YES”, then we are really Cyber safe! But if it is a “NO”, then, it clearly reveals that It’s no longer a “GAME OF THREATS” for big corporations, hackers, or spies.. It’s a WAR!!

And in this war, you are either a target or a victim, an attacker or a defender. But when you will face this cyberattack. And when that happens; actually no one knows the unseen!!

But then, we need to be CYBER-ready. So, what should I be ready with!!

The most important question that comes to everyone’s mind to begin with is; 

Do we need to be equipped with the skills and tools we need to fight back against cyber threats?

“Cyber security is a vital and non-negotiable element of the digital economy, as it ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of digital assets, and protects them from cyber threats

Cybersecurity is not only a problem or a challenge, it’s an opportunity too. 

So, Who are the most benefited people from this opportunity? Guardians of the data or It is the Cyber Criminals/ Attackers?

It’s an opportunity to innovate, to collaborate, and to create value. Let’s see how cybersecurity can unlock the potential of the digital economy, and how you can benefit from it ? 

But before that, what’s aDIGITAL ECONOMY?

The digital economy refers to the economic activities enabled or enhanced by digital technologies, such as the internet, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain.

Digital Economy and Why is it important?

The digital economy is growing rapidly and transforming every sector and industry, from agriculture to education, from health to finance, and from Gaming, and entertainment to government. According to the World Bank, the digital economy accounted for 15.5% of global GDP in 2016 and is expected to reach 25% by 2025.

Among these, digital security, or cyber security, is perhaps the most critical and urgent one, as it affects the trust, reliability, and resilience of the digital economy.

Cyber security refers to the protection of digital assets, such as data, devices, networks, and systems, from unauthorized or malicious access, use, modification, or destruction.

Cyber security is not only a technical issue, but also an economic and social one, as it impacts the rights, interests, and well-being of individuals, organizations, and nations.

To illustrate the importance and the urgency of cyber security in the digital economy, let me share with you at least one of the examples of cyber incidents that have occurred recently and have causedsignificant damage and disruption to businesses and societies;

In February 2024, acyberattack on the Indian digital economy disrupted the operations of several major companies, such as Yotta Data Services, Reliance Jio, Flipkart, and Ola, as well as government services, such as Aadhaar, GST, and e-passports. The attack was attributed to a hacker group called DarkSide, who demanded a ransom of $50 million in cryptocurrency to restore the affected systems.

According to the World Economic Forum, they were estimated to have nearly doubled to USD 945 billion from USD 522.5 billion in 2018, while spending on cybersecurity in 2020 was expected to exceed USD 145 billion, together comprising 1.3% of global GDP and has been increasing only to date.

Examples like these show how cyberattacks can have devastating consequences for the digital economy, and how they can undermine the confidence and the growth of businesses and societies in the digital era. Therefore, it is imperative that we take cybersecurity seriously, and that we adopt good cybersecurity practices and habits, such as using strong passwords, updating our software, encrypting our data, and educating ourselves and others about cyber risks and solutions. By doing so, we will not only protect ourselves and our organizations but also contribute to the growth and sustainability of the digital economy. I am not going into the industry best practices that need to be followed to be cyber-ready and cyber-safe. We all perhaps have been aware of this, it is just remembering the best practices, to implement everywhere possible.

The digital economy has revolutionized the way we live, work, and interact with each other. It is more of a mindset. It has brought about unprecedented opportunities for innovation, growth, and prosperity. 

However, with these opportunities come new challenges and risks. The digital economy is under constant threat from cybercriminals, hackers, and other malicious actors who seek to exploit vulnerabilities in our digital infrastructure as i mentioned earlier. The need for digital security has never been more urgent. This article is an endeavor to bring out the importance of digital security in today’s economy and why it is essential to safeguard our digital assets.

According to Nandan Nilekani, an Indian entrepreneur and co-founder, Infosys. India is moving from an offline, informal, low-productivity, multiple set of micro-economies to a single online, formal, high-productivity mega economy with the help of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI).

The three layers of DPI start with the Access layer the first layer of the DPI stack, which is the most significant country’s Digital Identity Program with the help ofAadhaar cards, similar to uniquely identified National Security Card Number. It allows a population gateway into what is to come next.

 

What Comes next is theEngagement Layer, which is epitomized through UPI (Universal Payment Interface), The ubiquitous payment backbone in the country. Once you get the digital identity, you want to engage with the other people who have access to the system. The payments layer is the one way, in which one gets engaged for a period of time. And also, you lay down the digital trail and one can use that to empower you to avail loans or some kind of service,

 

As the digital realm continues to evolve, and with the sharing of DPIs, this can be unleashed as powerful DIGITAL capital. In such scenarios, India’s cyber insurance market has emerged as a domain of strategic importance and robust growth. The significant rise in cyber awareness is compelling companies, businesses, and individuals to rely heavily on digital solutions for daily operations. However, this has also led to increased incidences of cybercrimes, targeting vulnerable groups.

As per the various surveys, it reveals that securing the digital economy is a complex and evolving challenge. According to the World Economic Forum, two key challenges for the digital economy are cybersecurity and privacy.

With the rise of digital payments in India, there has been a significant increase in the number of frauds perpetrated by exploiting digital payment systems and human vulnerabilities.

The dark web is a part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines and is often used for illegal activities.

Cybersecurity providers have warned that data breaches will skyrocket in 2024, and there will be a continued acceleration in ransomware activities in addition to a surge in identity-based attacks resulting from increasing cloud adoption. 

Deepfakes would also pose a looming threat to the country’s cybersecurity this year. As organizations migrate their data, applications, and workloads to the cloud, the attack surface widens, providing a broader canvas for threat actors to exploit. Organizations may also have less visibility and control over cloud resources than in on-premises environments, which could make it difficult to detect intrusions and prevent unauthorized access.

In the borderless cyber world where we say the world is flat; there is an urgent need to shift the attention to cybercrime hotspots that is the criminal locations from the victims as the victim might be an innocent person, who doesn’t even know how his Internet-connected Device has been made to act as a tool by the attacker. 

One of the more recent online fraud strategies is “pig butchering.” The name’s origin comes from a Chinese phrase that approximates “from tale to snout.” Similar to its origin, the cyber fraud version refers to using all of the resources of the victim. Pig butchering isa fast-growing scam involving online romance, fake crypto returns, and human trafficking that is stealing millions of dollars from U.S. citizens. As victims in the U.S. find themselves humiliated and bankrupt, their families fail to benefit from generational wealth transfer. These scams, known as “pig butchering,” involvebuilding trust with victims through online relationships and then persuading them to invest in fake cryptocurrency platforms. Scammers work to establish a connection with their targets, fostering a sense of trust.

Recommendation for adraft Joint Disciplinary Measures for Telecom Fraud and Associated Illegal Activities to solicit public opinion, aiming to advance the fight against such crimes. The JAMTARA series on Netflix gave an enormous awareness of the actual depiction of e-crime frauds. 

Examples have been shown in so many NETFLIX series… 

 

There can be lessons drawn from such cases having several reasons of such events as to why a sleeping city like Jamtara a district in Jharkhand in India been able to operate as scammers can operate with such impunity:

 

(a) Limited law enforcement resources 

(b) Lack of awareness

(c) Blind eye to scamming activities Bribery and corruption

(d) Lack of cooperation between law enforcement agencies

(e) Technological advancements

This article would not be a justice to my thoughts without the praises to the Indian government’s latest achievements. 

As a cyber-expert, I am amazed by the progress of India’s digital economy, which is set to grow six-fold and reach $1 trillion by 2030. This is a testament to Prime Minister Modi’s digital vision for a robust and resilient digital sovereign India, which has enabled millions of citizens to access digital services, platforms, and solutions in various sectors. India has also demonstrated its leadership and innovation in the global digital arena, by hosting the G20 summit, launching the E20 fuel and the lunar mission, and creating the Digital India Stack. These achievements fill me with immense pride and gratitude to be an Indian.

INDIA DIGITAL ECONOMY PROGRESSING

As a concluding remark, as AI continues to lower the barrier to cybercrime and ushers in a new era of AI-powered threats, scams will become more sophisticated and more difficult to distinguish from legitimate messages and sites. Even experts will have trouble telling facts from fiction to deep fakes that could impact everything including the future of our children, and beyond!

To safeguard our digital assets, we must adopt a comprehensive approach to digital security. This approach should include measures such as implementing robust cybersecurity protocols, conducting regular security audits, and investing in employee training and awareness programs. We must also leverage the latest technologies and best practices in digital security to stay ahead of emerging threats. By taking these steps, we can protect our digital assets and ensure a safe and secure digital future for all.

Therefore, I urge you to take cybersecurity seriously and to adopt good cybersecurity practices and habits, such as using strong passwords, updating your software, encrypting your data, and educating yourself and others about cyber risks and solutions. By doing so, you will not only protect yourself and your organization but also contribute to the growth and sustainability of the digital economy.

I sincerely appreciate the help and inspiration I received from an open internet resource that hosts thousands of articles from writers around the world. This article would not have been possible without them. This is purely my own opinion.

 

Author: Anurag Chandra, a Cyber and data privacy enthusiast and an experienced Technology Executive Skilled In Cyber Security, IT Project Management, Vendor & Public Relations. Proficient In Procurement Analytics And Strategic Growth. Worked As Chief Technology Program Manager For Data Analytics, AI, & Innovation. Passionate About Leveraging Cutting-Edge Tech For Positive Impact.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of ObserveNow Media. The author is solely responsible for ensuring the accuracy, completeness, and validity of the information presented, encouraging readers to independently verify and seek professional advice if needed.

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