SVIMS Director and Vice-Chancellor B. Vengamma lighting a lamp to formally launch the cybercrime awareness programme conducted by the police department for the medical students in Tirupati on Wednesday.
An awareness meet on safe Internet practices was held for the students of Sri Venkateswara University University (SVU) and Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) here on Wednesday.
“Cyber criminals on the prowl can easily track our digital footprint, steal our identity and resort to impersonation,” cyber expert I.L. Narasimha Rao cautioned the college students.
Addressing the students in two sessions, Mr. Narasimha Rao, who is a Senior Manager with CyberPeace Foundation, said seemingly common acts like browsing a website, and liking and commenting on posts on social media platforms could be used by impersonators to recreate an account in our name.
Turning to the youth, Mr. Narasimha Rao said the incognito mode and Virtual Private Network (VPN) used as a protected network connection do not ensure total privacy as third parties could still snoop over the websites being visited by the users. He also cautioned them tactics like ‘phishing’, ‘vishing’ and ‘smishing’ being used by cybercriminals to steal our passwords and gain access to our accounts.
“After cracking the whip on websites and apps that could potentially compromise our security, the Government of India has recently banned 232 more apps,” he noted.
Additional Superintendent of Police (Crime) B.H. Vimala Kumari appealed to cyber victims to call 1930 or the Cyber Mitra’s helpline 9121211100. SVIMS Director B. Vengamma stressed the need for caution with smartphones becoming an indispensable tool for students, be it for online education, seeking information, entertainment or for conducting digital transactions.
The world has been witnessing various advancements in cyberspace, and one of the major changes is the speed with which we gain and share information. Cyberspace has been declared as the fifth dimension of warfare, and hence, the influence of technology will go a long way in safeguarding ourselves and our nation. Information plays a vital role in this scenario, and due to the easy access to information, the instances of misinformation and disinformation have been rampant across the globe. In the recent Russia-Ukraine crisis, it was clearly seen how instances of misinformation can lead to major loss and harm to a nation and its subjects. All nations and global leaders are deliberating upon this aspect and efficient sharing of information among friendly nations and inter-government organisations.
What is IW?
IW, also known as Information warfare, is a critical aspect of defending our cyberspace. Information Warfare, in its broadest sense, is a struggle over the information and communications process, a struggle that began with the advent of human communication and conflict. Over the past few decades, the rapid rise in information and communication technologies and their increasing prevalence in our society has revolutionised the communications process and, with it, the significance and implications of information warfare. Information warfare is the application of destructive force on a large scale against information assets and systems, against the computers and networks that support the four critical infrastructures (the power grid, communications, financial, and transportation). However, protecting against computer intrusion, even on a smaller scale, is in the national security interests of the country and is important in the current discussion about information warfare.
IW in India
The aspects of misinformation have been recently seen in India in the form of the violence in Manipur and Nuh, which resulted in a massive loss of property and even human lives. A lot of miscreants or anti-national elements often seed misinformation in our daily news feed, and this is often magnified by social media platforms such as Instagram or X (formerly known as Twitter) and OTT-based messaging applications like WhatsApp or Telegram during the pandemic. It was seen nearly every week that some or the other new ways to treat COVID-19 were shared on Social media, which were false and inaccurate, especially in regard to the vaccination drive. A lot of posts and messages highlighted that the Vaccine is not safe, but a lot of this was a part of misinformation propaganda. Most of the time, the speed of spread of such episodes of misinformation is rapid and is often spread by the use of social media platforms and OTT messaging applications.
IW and Indian Army
Former Meta employees have recently come up with allegations that the Chinar Corp of the Indian Army had approached the social media giant to suppress some pages and channels which propagated content that may be objectionable. It is alleged that the formation made such a request to propagate its counterintelligence operations against Pakistan. The Chinar Corps is one of the most prestigious formations of the Indian Army and has the operational area of Kashmir Valley. The instances of online grooming and brainwashing have been common from the anti-national elements of Pakistan, as a faction of youth has been engaged in terrorist activities directly or indirectly. Various messaging and social media apps are used by the bad actors to lure in innocent youth on the fake and fabricated pretext of religion or any other social issue. The Indian Army had launched an anti-misinformation campaign in Kashmir, which aimed to protect Kashmiris from the propaganda of fake news and misinformation, which often led to radicalisation or even riots or attacks on defence forces. The aspect of net neutrality is often misused by bad actors in areas which are sociological, critical or unstable. The Indian Army has created special offices focusing on IW at all levels of formations, and the same is also used to eradicate all or any fake news or fake propaganda against the Indian Army.
Information has always been a source of power since the days of the Roman Empire. Control, dissemination, moderation and mode of sharing of information plays a vital role for any nation both in term of safety from external threats and to maintain National Security. Information Warfare is part of the 5th dimension of warfare, i.e., Cyberwar and is a growing concern for developed as well as developing nations. Information warfare is a critical aspect which needs to be incorporated in terms of basic training for defence personnel and law enforcement agencies. The anti-misinformation operation in Kashmir was primarily focused towards eradicating the bad elements after repealing Article 377, from cyberspace and ensuring harmony, peace, stability and prosperity in the state.
Cybercriminals can hack your phone using or exploiting some public charging stations such as at airports, Malls, hotel rooms, etc. When you plug in your phone or laptop devices into a power charger using USB, you may be plugging into a hacker. Juice jacking poses a security threat at public charging stations at airports, shopping malls and other public places that provide free charging stations for mobile, tablet, and laptop devices.
Cybercriminals can either hack into the public charging spot or download malware or viruses through the USB port into your system. When you plug your phone, laptop, tablet or other such devices for charging at public charging stations, it can download malware to your phone and other such devices, and then hackers can access your personal information or passwords, It is really a problem since hackers can even get access to your bank account for unauthorised transactions by accessing your passwords and personal information.
Hence it is important to think twice before using public charging spots, as it might lead to serious consequences such as malware, data leak and hacking. Hacking can gain unauthorised access to your personal information by installing malware in your device and they might monitor your device by installing monitor software or spyware to your device. This scam is referred to as juice jacking.
FBI issued an advisory warning about using public charging stations:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), In May 2023, advised users to avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels, or shopping centres. The warning comes as threat actors have figured out ways to inject malware into devices attached to publicly installed USB ports.
Updated Security measures:
We all must have seen public charging points such as airports, shopping malls, metro, and other public places that provide charging stations for mobile devices. But it can be a threat to your stored data on your device. During the charging process, your data can be transferred which can ultimately lead to a data breach. Hence utmost care should be taken to protect your information and data. iPhones and other devices have security measures in place, When you plug your phone into a charging power source, a pop-up appears to ask permission to allow or disallow the transfer of Data. There is also a default setting in the phones where data transfer is disabled. In the latest models, when you plug your device into a new port or a computer, a pop-up appears asking whether the device is trusted or not.
Two major risks involved in the threat of Juice jacking:
- Malware installation: – Malware apps can be used by bad actors to clone your phone data to their device, Your personal data is transferred leading to a data breach. Some types of malware include Trojans, adware, spyware, crypto-miners, etc. Once this malware is injected into your device, It is easy for cybercriminals to extort a ransom to restore the information they have unauthorized access to.
- Data Theft: It is important to give emphasis to the question of whether your data is protected at public charging stations? When we use a USB cable and connect to a public charging station port, cyber-criminals by injecting malware into the charging port system, can inject the malware into your device or your data can be transferred to the bad actors. USB cords can be exploited by cybercriminals to commit malicious activities.
- Avoid using public charging stations: Using public charging stations is not safe. It is very possible for a cybercriminal to load malware into a charging station with a USB cord. Hence It is advisable not to use public charging spots, try to make sure you charge your phone, and laptop devices in your car, at home or office so it will help you to avoid public charging stations.
- Alternative method of charging: You can carry a power bank along with you to avoid the use of public charging stations.
- Lock your phone: Lock your phone once connected to the charging port. Locking your device once connected to the charging station will prevent it from being able to sync or transfer data.
- Software update: It is important to enable and use your device’s software security measures. Mobile devices have certain technical protections against such vulnerabilities and security threats.
- Review Settings: Disable your device’s option to automatically transfer data when a charging cable is connected. This is the default on iOS devices. Android users should disable this option in the Settings app. If your device displays a prompt asking you to “trust this computer,” it means you are connected to another device, not simply a power outlet. Deny the permission, as trusting the computer will enable data transfers to and from your device. So when you plug your device into a USB port and a prompt appears asking permission to "share data" or “trust this computer” or “charge only,” always select “charge only.”
Cybercriminals or bad actors exploit public charging stations. There have been incidents where malware was planted in the system by the use of a USB cord, During the charging process, the USB cord opens a path into your device that a cybercriminal can exploit, which means the devices can exchange data. That's called juice jacking. Hence avoid using public charging stations, our safety is in our hands and it is significantly important to give priority to best practices and stay protected in the evolving digital landscape.
Established in the US, one of the world’s largest cab networks came into existence in 2010 and, since its inception, has expanded all over the globe with operations in 10,000 cities across 71 countries. It made a remarkable start in India in 2017 and, since then, has seen a rise in the customers and drivers for the company. India is among the largest markets for Uber, with 600,000 monthly drivers and 8.5 million monthly riders.
Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a one-stop portal to facilitate online procurement of common-use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organizations / PSUs. GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverses e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate government users achieve the best value for their money. Government e-Marketplace owes its genesis to the recommendations of two Groups of Secretaries to the Prime Minister in January 2016. They recommended setting up a dedicated e-market for different goods & services procured or sold by Government/PSUs besides reforming DGS&D. Subsequently, the Finance Minister, in his Budget speech for FY 2016-17, announced setting up of a technology-driven platform to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various Ministries and agencies of the Government. The portal was launched on 9th August 2016 by the Commerce & Industry Minister.
The cab network giant has registered on the portal of the Government E-marketplace and has declared that it will offer its services to Government officials from Ministries and PSUs. The project is currently in its pilot phase and shall be executed systematically to cover all the ministries and PSUs in the nation. The officials can book cabs at a fixed price with no cancellation or surge fees on the rides. The authorised officials will be able to book a cab from the portal and select from the list of drivers available. It will be a cashless/cardless ride for the officials; additional vehicle categories for government riders have been added, namely, GeM Yatraa Hatch and GeM Yatraa Sedan, and there will be hourly rentals for multiple-stops, allowing the government officials to enjoy the flexible and easily accessible network of cabs in major cities.
Such collaboration between Government institutions and corporates will go a long way to secure a stable equilibrium in the market. Uber, a US-based company, enjoys a vast user base in India and has created new job avenues. The advantages of the collaboration between GeM and Uber are as follows-
This will undoubtedly provide ease in accessibility in terms of being in a new place, and language barriers will no longer exist with such options for Government officials.
Increased jobs for drivers
With more cabs being engaged with ministries and PSUs, it is pertinent that the requirement for drivers will grow, thus increasing the employability rate in India and allowing the user to have an uninterrupted experience.
Ease of travel and commuting
This move will provide flexibility, thus leading to more ease in travel in cases of emergencies or places inaccessible by trains or other modes of transport.
Rise in travel and tourism
Coupled with the other factors, the opportunities for the users to visit different places will be an added advantage which will help boost the tourism industry, thus creating a balance in the market.
Sustainable Government corporate relationship
Such collaborations between the government and corporates will be substantial, signifying the ease of doing business in India. They will also act as a beacon of example for compliance with opportunities for the other companies and stakeholders.
Opportunities for collaboration with ingenious start-ups
With such major corporate joining hands with the government, the indigenous start-ups will have various opportunities to engage with companies and recreate similar businesses rooted in India, thus transforming the economy.
Transportation and communication play a vital role in our lives, thus, such collaboration will go a long way in creating a better and more uniform user experience in the country. This also goes a long way to showcase that the Governmental platforms also offer services of a global standard. Such portals exist in South Korea, Singapore, the US and Europe. The network of cabs can only be sustained using the locals as drivers, hence these collaborations are win-win for all as the market dynamics are improving, employability will increase, and improved user experience will be seen.