Sunday, December 25, 2016
Hacking is no fun
CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER
This December we got to see a bout of hacking attacks on renowned politicians, journalists, business magnets in India. Apparently their purpose was to reveal corrupted people who are disrupting good governance in India. Almost all the news media channels ran stories on who these hackers are, why the targeting specific people are and what may be their next target etc. Very recently I got to meet a group of people who hack for various reasons. While most of us are concerned about our own digital data security, it is interesting to know why our accounts in social media or email may get hacked. There is a difference between unauthorised access of financial data, social media profiles, emails and digital data that may be stored in our own devices. They may be interconnected. But definitely their motives may be different. In my recently published monograph “Cyber crime against women in India’ (https://in.sagepub.com/en-in/sas/cyber-crimes-against-women-in-india/book253900) I showed that revenge porn may be a result of unauthorised access of social media profiles as well as digital albums for revenge to destroy the reputation. Similarly there are hackers who may access financial data for illegal monetary gain.
However, there is a group of people who hack for fun. This ‘voyeuristic pleasure’ is exercised especially when the hacker/s may want to establish how an organisation or particular individuals may poorly maintain their cyber security . I do often get to hear from senior citizens and women that their social media accounts or emails or Whatsapp profiles have been hacked. An in-depth research may reveal that hackers may have done this for fun. To me, it relates to those pre internet days when youngsters took pleasure in peeping into well guarded private diaries maintained by young girls and boys or individuals who loved to treasure their secrets. But hacking is no fun especially when the information thus gathered can be used for various detrimental causes including extortion and sextortion. Especially Women may feel extremely traumatised when such hackers for fun target them. The reason is, if a woman’s digital data is unauthorisedly accessed, it may misused and damage to her reputation may compel her to take extreme steps like suicide due to fear of social taboo. What I strongly condemn is teaching school children about hacking with the tag line that hacking is for fun. It is like giving a loaded gun to children to experiment it and learn it for fun. It is indeed a fact that ethical hackers are used for many positive reasons and internet companies may pay them a hefty amount too. But, teaching hacking to children must be done with utmost concern. We definitely do not need Frankensteins . It must be understood that any individual who may not understand the responsibilities attached with power may definitely misuse the power. We need to understand that our Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) has recognised unauthorised access to digital data, tampering of the data etc as penal offences and the provisions are wide enough to cover offenders of all age. Further, our Indian Penal Code also recognises cyber stalking and voyeurism as an offence which may necessarily involve hacking. Any child psychology expert or educator may understand that children tend to experiment (often with disastrous first few results) for a better understanding of the subject. Hacking is such a tool which may at the outset show the child how to gain illegal profit by using it if he/she is not told about the risks that may be caused to others as well as to his target victims.
This Christmas let all take a vow that our knowledge must be used for positive purposes and not for victimising others. We must remember that if we use our knowledge and expertise to check the weakness of others, that must be done in a prescribed way and not to humiliate the later.
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25th December 2016, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/