Staying safe on the WebSchools and universities must raise awareness about cyber security and healthy internet use.
The information age, while it has eased communication, has also brought with it a host of problems related to cyber security. Internet users of all ages face risks of committing or being victims of cyber crime, but young students are in greater jeopardy as nowadays they have access to mobile phones, the internet and social media. Expectedly, they are more vulnerable to cyber crime. To deal with this, the police in Kapilvastu have begun a pilot project to develop curricula for school-going students to raise awareness about cyber crime and safe internet usage. The objective of the addition, as per the Kapilvastu District Police Office, is to educate students on what entails criminal and non-criminal activities in cyberspace.
The curriculum, launched under the School-Police Partnership Programme, has so far covered 80 schools in Kapilvastu Municipality and Yashodhara Rural Municipality. The District Police plans to launch the book in all 10 local units of Kapilvastu district; it is, in fact, a laudable initiative worthy of emulation throughout the country. The textbook also includes awareness materials on a wide range of social issues, including child marriage, dowry system, sexual misconduct, drug abuse and smoking. The inclusion of cyber crime and safe usage of social media in the curriculum is a positive and timely change. Although extensive involvement of the police in curriculum development is not warranted, there is a need to engage legal practitioners, security officials and cyber experts to build curricula that address the information gap when it comes to cyber crime.
Nepal has adopted the use of the internet in various sectors of national life aggressively in a bid to tap the Web's growing penetration. Administrators and politicians like to use the terms ‘smart’ and ‘digital’ for almost every government initiative to create an aura of novelty and contemporaneity. With an ever increasing dependence on cyber technologies, institutions and individuals are prone to cyber attacks by criminals, hackers, terrorists and disgruntled workers. However, the government has done little to prepare institutions as well as individuals to handle security risks in cyberspace.
A large section of internet users are not aware of the legal mechanisms that act as checks and balances concerning the use of the internet, social media and digital architecture. A lack of knowledge about such mechanisms means that people may commit crimes inadvertently. Young students, who form a significant section of internet users, must be especially trained because they are even more susceptible to breaking the norms of being in cyberspace. They must be made aware that the data they produce stay in cyberspace, and might come back to haunt them at a later point in life. It is necessary, therefore, to add lessons on cyber security as an essential part of the curricula in schools and universities.
As smartphones, digital technology and the internet become essential aspects of our daily lives, every individual is a potential cyber criminal or victim consciously or unwittingly. Starting at the school level, cyber security literacy programmes should also be made part of all kinds of professional training programmes, as cyber crime is on the rise globally, and Nepal cannot expect to be left alone. Connecting Nepal to the world through internet technology is hardly enough; we must build a sturdy infrastructure and create widespread awareness to deal with the security threats that lurk in cyberspace and spill into the world around us.