OCTOBER: Cybersecurity Awareness Month

How serious is the Cybersecurity landscape in Kashmir?
Representational Image
Representational ImageFile: Pixabay


The year is 2022 and as we enter October, the cybersecurity awareness month, it becomes increasingly important with each passing day to raise awareness about it, not only in the developing online government, or corporate infrastructures but also in daily lives of end users - the people.

Even though behind the scenes things are quite intricate, as opposed to what it seems, all it takes is a simple click of a mouse or a tap of your smart phone screen to get your social media accounts’ confidential & personal information compromised. Of course I don’t need to mention how you can eventually end up losing your money through online scams if you are not “aware”.

So let’s wind the clock back and quickly discuss where it all began … The Internet - backbone of every form of communication or transaction in today’s world. From small to large businesses, government, banking, entertainment, gaming, news - you name it, run majorly, if not totally online.

The interaction a normal user has with today’s businesses involves information “exchange” over the internet. “Exchange” can be an overstatement in some cases because eventually it’s the requestor who shares their data with a vendor providing a service online.

Think of the approach one takes to protect their belongings like offline personal or financial documents, hard cash or jewellery by storing them in a safe place with restricted access - mindful of external threats.

Fast-forward to today’s market, these documents and information have gone online, are transferred over the web, although not so easily accessible for a 3rd person, but somewhat, a bit more exposed.

A sensible approach at this point should be warranting an exercise with similar sense of caution and security at the online level.

Enter Cybersecurity! Security of your online assets or even assets that have the tendency to go online like a photo stored in your smartphone. If you’re a private business or a government department, it means security of your website or applications.

If you’re an end user it means protecting your online accounts for instance messaging apps, social media, email, bank accounts, blogs, online shopping accounts.

While a major chunk of this security responsibility falls on the shoulders of the service providers and institutions, one should not underestimate the role an end user plays in maintaining the overall security posture of an online ecosystem.

The West has an established larger online marketplace, and the advancements in online security being developed and implemented are unparalleled. Despite of that, the losses caused by cyberattacks are not meagre. According to a Forbes report US businesses online suffered a loss of $6.9 billion due to cyberattacks in 2021 alone.

The Asian sub-continent, however, is still rising to the task, while the growth vis-à-vis is exponential. In an event in New Delhi recently, a senior Google executive said that India faced 18 million cyber attacks in the first 3 months of 2022.

A top university in the UT was attacked recently which resulted in a huge data breach, leaking information of millions of its students and staff. This should serve as an eye-opener for other institutions in the territory and emphasise the practical pitfalls of leaving an organisation unguarded against potential cyber threats.

One can be surprised by just browsing around local websites and finding how vulnerable they are, carrying weak security postures. Besides this, the online scams through messaging apps and social media have already caught the eye of most internet users, if not all.

Overall the common denominator and the focus this year rightfully, as per CISA (Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency) is on “the people”. While organisations must take all the advanced measures to prevent data breaches, it becomes imperative that “people” do their due diligence sua sponte.

Individuals have to maintain basic cyber hygiene; strong passwords, multi-factor authentication (OTPs for example), must verify and think before clicking a random link and of course, pay attention to software updates on your devices.

The online establishments in this part of the world are emerging and are literal “goldmines” for malicious actors who have not turned their attention here en masse. Should they choose to wander around they might leave pretty ugly scenes behind if institutions and individuals are not cyber-aware.

Mohammad Shurjeel Shaheen, Professional Cybersecurity Architect

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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