The Cyber Awareness Month serves as a timely reminder of the responsibility we all bear to protect
ourselves and those around us from the perils of the internet, particularly the menace of cyberbullying,
catphishing, online scams, and the whole host of other social engineering attacks. The youth play a
critical role in this aspect, given that they are among the most active participants today and will,
tomorrow, be a part of the working age group and active contributors to India Inc. Hence, the
importance of cyber awareness for young netizens cannot be overstated. They need to become more
aware, vigilant, and take the responsibility of shaping a safer digital world.
Cyber safety checklist: 10 things young netizens should do to bolster online safety
The youth of today have utilised the online space to make their lives more convenient. From paying their
educational fees and creating a professional network to shopping and finding dates, everything for
young netizens is a click away. While the internet provides a world of options, it must be acknowledged
that it also presents a great risk of cyber threats. In a world that is so connected, it wouldn’t be prudent
to stay offline due to the fear of such threats but enhancing online safety should be the key focus. Here
is a 10-point checklist that can ensure you stay cyber-safe and can take advantage of all that the virtual
world has to offer without any fear:
- Personal information isn’t meant to be public: Never share personal information, such as your
address, bank account details, and health-related issues, online. It could be misused to cause
financial and/or reputational harm.
- Focus on privacy settings: Take out the time to review your privacy settings regularly to control
who has access to your online presence, particularly the content you post online such as photos
- Think before you click: Be it a link you receive through a DM or an email nudging you to
download an attachment, never click a link that you receive through an unknown sender
because it could be an attempt to access your data or introduce malware to your system.
- Enable multi-factor authentication: Be it for your social media account or net banking, enabling
the multi-factor authentication option will provide you enhanced online safety and protect you
against unauthorised access.
- Hit the software update button timely: Software updates are essential to fix bugs, treat any
security issues, and improve the system’s performance. It would have the cumulative effect of
enhancing cybersecurity, protecting you against cyber-attacks.
- Check for website security: It’s exciting to chance upon a new website that piques your interest
but look carefully at the browser’s address bar. Does the URL begin with “https://” or “http://.”?
Ensure it’s the former because it indicates an encrypted connection which can ensure your
information is secure.
- Be vigilant around online connections: Making virtual friends or building an online professional
network is common in the digital age, but to protect yourself against catfishing and social
engineering, you must confirm their identity via a video call. If you choose to meet them offline,
pick a public space such as a café or marketplace instead of an isolated place.
- Pause before you post: Before hitting the ‘post’ button, review the content you’ve created.
Avoid posting harsh language, controversial words, or political views. Since your online presence
reflects your personality, such posts can harm your reputation and/or future prospects.
- Don’t hesitate to report: Most online platforms provide for a reporting mechanism and will be
able to help you out in scenarios where you’re facing online harassment, or you suspect that
your account has been compromised.
- Always trust your instinct: If you feel something is off when you’re surfing the internet, be it an
interaction or a mail that seems too good to be true, trust your gut feeling and don’t continue.
Remember that prevention is better than the cure.
Tick off all these to have a safe experience online!
Tackling cyberbullying: A collective responsibility
As the use of internet grows, cyberbullying has become an alarming concern. It often involves the use of
digital platforms to harass, threaten, or demean others, which can wreak havoc on one’s mental health
and well-being. Moreover, it leads to the creation of a very negative space in the online world and tints
digital interactions with toxicity. The solution? The youth must actively be at the forefront of this battle.
Empowering young individuals with the tools to combat cyberbullying begins with raising awareness
both at home and at educational institutes.
- Spread Awareness: Understanding what cyberbullying is and recognizing its various forms is the first
step. It can manifest through hurtful comments, spreading rumours, or even the creation of fake
profiles. Vigilance is critical when it comes to reducing such instances. Encouraging the youth to not
dismiss any signs, even if subtle, goes a long way in ensuring they take active steps to deal with these scenarios.
- Safe Space: Youth should feel comfortable sharing their online experiences and concerns with trusted adults. Together, we must create safe spaces for open conversations at home, in schools, and among friends.
- Responsible Digital Citizenship: Teach youth to treat others online as they would in person—with
respect and empathy. Remember, words typed on a screen carry real-world consequences.
- Reporting What’s Wrong: Make sure young individuals are aware of reporting mechanisms on social
media platforms and websites. Reporting cyberbullying incidents is a proactive way to combat online
- Seeking Support: If you suspect someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, offer support and
encourage them to seek help from adults or professionals. Cyberbullying can be fought better through
collaboration rather than trying to tackle it all alone.
A commitment to kindness: To create an inclusive digital space
Equally important is the commitment to not becoming a part of cyberbullying. Here’s how youth can ensure they stay mindful during online interactions:
- Think Before You Post: Before posting something, ask yourself if the message might be hurtful or
insensitive. This type of critical thinking ensures healthy interactions in the digital space.
- Diverse, Not Different: Celebrate diversity and respect differing opinions. Engage in constructive
debates to put your point across instead of using harsh language.
- Don’t be a Bystander: If you witness someone else facing cyberbullying, don’t turn the other way. Be
an upstander and report instances of harassment to support the victim.
- Avoid Weaponising the Online Space for Personal Issues: Reach out to a trusted adult to deal with
interpersonal conflict rather than using the online space for cyberbullying. Guidance is better than
taking decisions based on emotions.
- Lead by Example: You can demonstrate the power of online kindness through your own actions. Be
respectful of your peers when interacting online to show you don’t support cyberbullying.
By empowering youth to tackle cyberbullying and promoting online kindness, we take significant steps toward creating a safer, more inclusive, and compassionate online community.
Understanding online deception (social engineering and catphishing)
Today’s youth are an integral part of the online world more than ever before due to the rapid
digitisation of multiple aspects of life. From education to gaming, youngsters are often found immersed
in the online world. Of course, the internet offers unprecedented opportunities for learning, networking,
and self-expression, but one must remember that it also presents significant risks, particularly in the
realm of social engineering and catfishing.
What is Social Engineering and Catfishing?
Social engineering and catfishing are deceptive practices that weaponise human psychology to trick
people into sharing personal information. This information is then used for harmful activities such as
extortion, online harassment, and scamming. It is a form of manipulation that preys upon simple human
emotions of trust, curiosity, and vulnerability.
While social engineering pertains to manipulating an individual into disclosing sensitive information,
catfishing involves the creation of fake online personas to deceive vulnerable people.
Stay Aware, Stay Safe
It is crucial that we educate our youth to navigate the online world safely. Here are some strategies to
raise awareness and reduce the risk of social engineering and catfishing:
- Raise Awareness: Teach youngsters about the tactics used in social engineering and catfishing.
Encourage them to practice skepticism and critical thinking when interacting with virtual strangers.
- Privacy Settings: Educate the youth about the use of privacy settings on social media platforms to
restrict the amount of personal information they share.
- Always Verify: Advocate for the practice of verifying the identities of online friends through video
calls or other trusted means.
- Reporting: Teach the youth how to report suspicious activity to the platform as well as to the
authorities in case of any harm that may have already occurred.
- Trust the Gut Feeling: Adults can’t always be around when it comes to the vast world of the internet.
Hence, encourage the young ones to trust their instincts. If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is!
By educating the youth about potential harms of social engineering and catfishing, we can empower
them to enjoy the benefits of online connectivity while staying vigilant against threats.
Guidance for safer financial transactions
In today’s digital landscape, managing finances has become increasingly convenient, especially for the
youth. With the ability to transfer funds, make payments, and invest online, financial transactions have
evolved into a routine part of daily life for an average youngster. However, this convenience comes at
the cost of navigating cyber threats. Hence, it’s vital to emphasise the importance of safety and security
when engaging in financial activities. After all, today’s youth will enter the workforce and will carry a
huge responsibility for digital safety and security both at the workplace and at home.
Let’s explore some practical tips to help young individuals protect their financial assets and information
through this five-point guide:
- Secure Your Digital Accounts
Your first line of defense is securing your digital accounts. You’ve probably already heard this many
times but the importance of choose strong, unique passwords for each of your financial accounts cannot be underlined enough. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information, like birthdays or names, and never share your passwords with anyone.
- Verify Website Security
Shopping from your favorite e-commerce website, or ordering food through an app? When making
online purchases or conducting financial transactions, always ensure that the website is secure. Keep an eye on the padlock icon in the browser’s address bar and make sure the website’s URL begins with “https://” instead of “http://.” These signs indicate that your connection is encrypted, protecting your data from prying eyes.
- Be Cautious of Phishing Scams
Got a call from a seemingly well-meaning bank official asking for your debit card CVV to offer you
discounts? Well, give it a miss because it could be a scamming attempt. Be cautious of unsolicited
emails, text messages, or phone calls that request sensitive data or prompt you to click on suspicious
links. If something seems off or too good to be true, verify the source independently before taking any action.
- Safeguard Your Investments
If you’re venturing into the world of investments, exercise caution. Use reputable sources and wallets, and research any investment opportunities thoroughly. Beware of promises of quick riches, as these often lead to scams. Only invest what you can afford to lose.
- Activate Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. Activate 2FA wherever possible. This typically involves receiving a one-time code on your mobile device, which you’ll need in addition to your password to access your accounts. It provides an additional barrier against unauthorized access. While online financial transactions offer convenience and accessibility, it’s crucial to prioritise safety and security. By implementing these practical measures, young individuals can better protect their financial assets and personal information. Remember that staying informed and vigilant is key to ensuring that your financial journey remains a secure and successful one. Happy Cyber Month, and may your financial adventures be prosperous and protected!
Guarding privacy: How young netizens can protect online privacy
In today’s digital age, the youth have no option but to be an active part of the online realm. They are the
torchbearers of the online realm, navigating social media, gaming, and communication platforms with
ease. But, in the quest for connectivity and self-expression, it’s easy to overlook a vital aspect—privacy.
Cyber Awareness Month serves as a timely reminder for young netizens to be guardians of their online
privacy, not just for themselves but for their families and friends as well. Taking the following points into
account can ensure a strong online presence without compromising on privacy:
- Avoid revealing your location: Of course, we want to share our experiences with our virtual friends but sharing information about your current location must be avoided. You don’t know who might be watching over your virtual presence and how it might affect your security.
- Don’t reveal personal information online: Social media platforms are primarily used by youngsters for self-expression and connection with others. Sharing basic information, such as your name or organisations you’re associated with, can lead to networking opportunities but it is best to avoid sharing your address, phone number, email address, or any health-related data online. Such information can be used against you, leading to loss of social reputation, or even financial loss.
- Master the privacy settings: Explore the privacy settings of your favourite social media platforms and apps. Tailor them to your liking but lean toward tighter privacy controls. Limit the information you share with the public and understand what data you’re giving away.
- Regularly update software: Keep your devices and software up to date. Updates often include security patches that shield you from vulnerabilities. Yes, such updates can seem frustrating but ignoring updates is like leaving your house gate unlocked.
- Report suspicious activity: If you encounter something fishy or believe your privacy has been compromised, report it to the appropriate authorities or platform administrators. Timely reporting helps protect you and others. In a world where privacy is increasingly precious, the youth hold the key to a safer online future. By adopting these practices and promoting them within your circle, you’re not only safeguarding your digital realm but also contributing to a more secure online space for all.
Empowering youth: Pioneers of cyber safety
The youth of the 21st century is at the forefront of technological advancements, shaping the way we
interact, work, and live. With this power comes great responsibility. This Cyber Awareness Month is the
perfect time for young individuals to champion the concept of cyber safety.
Here are key steps for the youth to lead the charge in creating a safer digital landscape.
- Educate and Advocate
A little knowledge goes a long way in being cyber secure. Arm yourself with information about online threats, data privacy, and cybersecurity best practices. Have grandparent who just started using digital wallets, or a friend who recently created their social media account? Share this knowledge with them to empower them to stay safe online.
- Practice Safe Habits
Much like self-care days, you must make ‘cyber-care’ an integral part of your routine. Implement good cyber hygiene in your own digital life. Take out a day every month to change passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and update your software and devices. Your safe practices will inspire others to do the same.
- Guard your Digital Footprint
Understand that every online action leaves a trace. Be mindful of what you share on social media and other platforms. Avoid oversharing personal information, as it can be exploited by cybercriminals. Moreover, be mindful of the words you’re posting. This won’t just ensure your reputation and further opportunities are not hurt but also enable you interact with like-minded people.
- Create a Cyber Safety Culture
Whether in your school, college, or workplace, foster a culture of cyber safety. Take the initiative to
organise workshops, seminars, or awareness campaigns to promote safe online practices. Whenever you have the chance, start a dialogue with your peers about online safety. Having active discussions about cybersecurity will help you raise awareness and learn about what others are doing differently.
- Stay Informed about Emerging Threats
Cyber threats constantly evolve. Stay informed about the latest threats and attack techniques. Sharing this knowledge can help your community stay ahead of cybercriminals. As the torchbearers of the digital future, the youth have the potential to make a significant impact on cyber safety. By taking proactive steps and inspiring their peers and communities, they can lead the way
in creating a safer online world for all.
Authored By: Sowmya Vedarth, Partner, Deloitte India and Manas Ketkar, Partner, Deloitte India