Digital security: Everything that everyone should know

Internet, the 19th century’s technological wonder, derived from Nikola Tesla’s work on wireless communications, is not only revolutionizing the global industries but also influencing our daily life. But how much do we know about it? 

In Bangladesh, especially in the grassroots, most people use internet for social media only (such as: Facebook, YouTube, etc.). They consider social media to be the internet of our country. Asking them about who owns internet has a response of about 70 percent believing Mark Zuckerberg aka Facebook, Bill Gates aka Microsoft and similar icons to be the owner of the global internet. 

Internet introduced itself in the 1960s through a RnD based Packet Switching Project commissioned by the United States Department of Defense  titled as DARPANET or more commonly known as ARPANET. The initial idea was to enable real-time data sharing of computers by interconnecting them. The primary precursor network, the ARPANET, initially served as a backbone for interconnected communicator of regional academic (to share knowledge) and military (to share information) networks in the 1970s. It was the courtesy of National Science Foundation Network’s Funds alongside with the private funds for other commercial extensions it was expanded through connecting networks and reaching out globally as present day.  

It is very important that we know and 

understand about any technology 

thoroughly before using it on a blink

By definition, as an application, internet is a distributed packet based network that works as a communication system for the virtual world creating our digital presence.  The network interconnects networks creating global distribution. Officially, no one owns the internet, but technically everyone is capable of accessing the whole network. 

This network’s architectural infrastructure in Bangladesh roughly consist  2-IPLCs and 7-ITCs at the landing station layer, 29-IIGs and 2 NIX at carrier layer, Hundreds of Large and Local ISPs at distribution layer and the hundreds of Million Devices(Computer, Smart Phone, etc.) at the end user layer. 

Every voice, text or file we share through this network are nothing but some big binary numbers (1, 0) which are sliced into some pieces called packets and then re-organized while reaching the destination. All of this valuable information is basically the data that represents us as a human as well as our life. Based on the category these data are often subject to certain privacy limits which we mostly ignore. Thus these data are collected in real-time mining into trillion dollars a year global industry and as data surpassed Oil (Fuel) in terms of value just a couple of years back therefore, it can be said that data is the most valuable asset on this planet. 

Immense value of data also pioneered a new economy based on assets that don’t have any physical existence such as: Software, data sets, patents, copyrights, contents, platforms, etc.; popularly known as Intangible Economy. Based on 2018 data, world’s largest 5 companies are all internet based: Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. Moreover they have intangible assets worth $21.03 Trillion out of $25.03 Trillion with tangible assets worth $4 Trillion only.

The Global Pandemic has globally increased our dependency on the internet more than ever. In Bangladesh the total number of internet subscribers stood at 103.476 million as of June 2020, the statistics of the telecom regulator showed while there were 66.44 million internet users in January 2020. 

Very similar to the other countries of this region people in Bangladesh also lacks basic literacy about internet and the power it has given to us. As a result people often use these platforms to unintentionally spread things that cause harm directly to the nation. What we actually share through this magical network can be categorized into four groups. These are, 

I. Valuable data: Relevant things in which we are usually interested in. This Includes our basic information, the places we visit, the foods we prefer or even our likes and dislikes. 

II. Personal life:  Voice, text, videos, calls, messages, posts, images, files, comments, opinions of various issues, etc. 

III. Precious things: Money, account details, credibility, dignity and our psychographic traits. 

IV. Harmful poisons:  hate speech, violence, offense, insults, lies, hoax, satire, propaganda, click-bait, phishing sources, conspiracies, cheats, etc. 

The scariest part is that all of our virtual activities are collected in real time. These digital traces are mined into Trillion Dollar a year Industry with capitalist communities in control who uses these data for their own profit and benefits. The ads we see about things which are relevant to us every time we visit Facebook or YouTube is the practical proof of it. Taking someone’s unique Data mean taking control of the consciousness even in a psychological Way. 

The rain of ads we ignore so often perhaps has a larger impact than we understand. Therefore, the power of Technology and Data is a deadly weapon in the wrong hands and the things we should discuss are not AI, IoT or Blockchain but those are psychographics, psychometrics and incognitive biasness. We really should not worry about the fourth industrial revolution unless we do something to ensure cyber security. 

We were so fascinated when these magical technologies were made available to us that we were covered by its aura in no time without asking why someone would give us such services for free without taking anything in return. We felt like winners when in reality we were only attracted into a market through well-designed and engineered frameworks of acquisition which made us dependent to it and we ended up paying billions indirectly every year. 

Perhaps, this dream of connected world is slowly tearing us apart. Ramu’s Vandalization 2012, Nasirnagar’s’ Mayhem 2016, Thakurpara’s arson 2017 and Borhanuddin’s Zealots 2019 are just examples of the fact that we are losing control of ourselves to some technologies which were created by us. Even greedy people used this weakness of our general population in businesses like: onion, salt, etc. One of the most popular one in recent times, 2019 witnessed the spreading of a news describing that the construction of Padma Bridge one of the boldest development initiatives of this nation requires Human caput. 

This fired the hate speech of rise in child lifters activities which resulted in local chaos including the death of an innocent mother.  Interestingly, this psychographic plan of spreading fake propaganda based heat speech among illiterate people in the grassroots was previously implemented in India on 2018(the previous year) where more than 22 innocent people were killed in mass beating suspicious of being child lifter’s. 

Even one of the biggest burdens our country is bearing right now known as the Rohingya are also victim of similar hate speech campaigns. The United Nation has found Facebook playing a determining role made of the effects of incognitive bias on social media worldwideand questioned whether has Facebook now turned into a beast what wasn’t originally intended?

Now the Billion dollar question rises as how not to be a part of it? How we can control or even prevent these shameful incidents from happening? Well there are a few ways for general layer. These are, 

I. Check the Source: Most of times, numbers of rumors, Hoax & lies are stopped through Questioning. The sources are often not confirmed by national Medias and the ID or page spreading it are fake. 

II. Read inside: Catchy titles or lines don’t tell the actual story inside. People often use such catchy and attractive headlines in order to increase the number of viewers who are eventually fooled after reading inside. 

III. Check details: Check the dates, locations, author and other supporting sources if needed. Often they use stories/images/videos from the past or different country as honey-bait to attract more people.  

IV. Don’t believe or click on everything: Control your excitement. The virtual world might provide info on the real world but not necessary that info is legit. Over excitement might end you up not only being controlled but also manipulated and make you do something unintentionally that causes harm to the nation directly. 

The government of Bangladesh has been very serious about these issues for quite a long time. Things that are needed to come from the government are, 

I. Mass awareness: Targeted awareness plans for each and every person from children to senior Citizens. 

II. Digital literacy: spreading digital literacy and Basic learning from roots of every citizen.

III. Cyber expertise: Law, acts, policies, skill Development, learning experience  and other facilitation Supports 

IV. Seeking solutions: Seeking the solution in all way even if it requires local replacements of mostly used global giants such as: Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc. 

It is very important that we know and understand about any technology thoroughly before using it on a blink. That’s why the government also needs to focus on creating skilled human resources who can understand the technologies regarding Cyber Security Systems which’ll be able to protect our virtual world and ensure the safety of our nation.

Ashikur Rahman Rupok is Coordinator, Student to Startup Program and Deputy IT Secretary, Bangladesh Students’ League