17TH NOVEMBER, 2019
|RAJYA SABHA TELEVISION|
THE PULSE: ENSURING CYBER-SECURITY FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE
Smartphones today have become a necessity in everyone’s life. According to a study, an average person spends around 15-18 hours on their phones, be it playing games, checking into social media, or just browsing the internet. With increasing mobile coverage and cheaper data, more and more people now have access to the internet.
With the drastic increase in the number of people online, cybercrimes have also increased exponentially. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2014, 9622 cases regarding cybercrimes were lodged. The figures significantly increased in 2015, reaching 11,582. The next year saw another rise with 12,317 cases. And as per the latest data available, which if for the year 2017, more than 21,000 cases of cybercrimes were recorded in India – a significant number against the senior citizens.
Every now and then we hear and read in newspapers about online frauds or digital robberies committed against the elderly, duping them of their hard earned money. Even within our social circle, there are hardly any of us who hasn’t heard of an older person getting a phone call asking for OTPs, and then finding out that they’ve been robbed of huge amounts of money. A challenge before senior citizens knows of ways to avoid online fraud. Although people of all ages are at risk, statistics show that when it comes to online safety, seniors are more vulnerable.
Why these vulnerable groups more prone to cyber-crimes?
- These elderly people are in a transition phase of tech savvy. They are new to the smartphone based banks which are becoming double edged sword for them.
- In present days society where focus is on individualism, there is none to guide these elderly people and make them aware so they are easy targets for the fraudulent.
- Fake products, particularly health products and counterfeit drugs, may be touted to the ageing as the elixir of new youth.
How they are cheated?
- Elderly folk instantly believe schemes in which cyber crooks claim to be government officials. They target old age people to steal personal information, usually in the form of emails and calls. Then they make the victim visit a website and furnish critical details like social security numbers, bank info, contact details and such.
- With changing social dynamics, elderly folk is left with no option than to live alone. And it’s now a fact proven in the survey that people in their 50s cannot resist cyber romance. These criminals often target victims who are alone and try to exploit them financially.
- Work from home opportunities often lures seniors as it earns them a living and helps pay for their medical expenses. Unfortunately, most of such job offers are now being posted by scammers.
What ought to be done to protect the elderly people from digital dacoit?
- Cyber security laws in India is egalitarian in nature i.e it treats all the citizens on the same platform irrespective of the age and education factors. There should be special laws especially for these vulnerable groups.
- Most cases of the digital or cyber fraudulent goes unsolved because there is not any territory fixed to the cyber-crime so prevention at the source is the most important in these cases.
- Making these elder people aware about the cyber theft is mostly important.
- There should be two factor authentications method for these elderly people in case for the withdrawal of the money from their account above a fixed minimum limit.
- Investigations related to cyber fraudulent is started only if crime has taken place. No case is entertained if somehow it is escaped. In spite of this the cyber cell should investigate the attempted cases and should also highlight the intelligency of the elder to make the others aware.
National cyber security policy, 2013
India had no Cyber security policy before 2013. National Cyber Security Policy is a policy framework by Department of Electronics and Information Technology. It aims at protecting the public and private infrastructure from cyber-attacks. The policy also intends to safeguard “information, such as personal information (of web users), financial and banking information and sovereign data”.
This was particularly relevant in the wake of US National Security Agency (NSA) leaks that suggested the US government agencies are spying on Indian users, who have no legal or technical safeguards against it.