The University Grants Commission has directed all varsities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to facilitate and encourage the academic fraternity to work on cyber security and include the topic in the curriculum. The commission has noted that the government is in the process of formulating a National Cyber Security Strategy document and till then cyber security awareness should begin at the school level itself.
Cyberspace is a complex environment consisting of interactions between people, software and services, supported by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices and networks. It is vulnerable to a wide variety of incidents, whether intentional or accidental, manmade or natural. Therefore, cyber security awareness has become a prime concern in today's networked world, UGC secretary Rajnish Jain said in a letter to vice chancellors. The government is in process of formulating National Cyber Security Strategy document. In the meantime, it has been decided that cyber security awareness should start at school level where syllabus can start with cyber safety measures and progressively include offensive and defensive aspects at IIT and higher education level, he added.
Directing, the HEIs to take appropriate action on the implementation of the cyber security awareness, the Commission said, HEls may further encourage, promote and facilitate the academic fraternity to work on cyber security start-ups and conduct of hackathons. According to the United Nations, millions of children around the world are at an increased risk of online sexual exploitation, violence and cyber bullying as they spend more time on virtual platforms due to the closing of schools amid COVID-19 lockdown.
More than 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by the closing of schools worldwide and many are online now taking classes and socialising, the UN's children's agency UNICEF said. When a nationwide lockdown was announced in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection, all teaching and learning activities had to be moved online to avoid disruption of learning. The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) had in May sent the detailed guidelines to schools, defining the role of teachers as well as parents in promoting safe, legal, and ethical use of the internet by students.
Allowing only authorised people to access computer labs, banning the use of USBs, blocking pop-ups and keeping a check on the appearance of new and unfamiliar icons on desktop were among the cyber security and safety guidelines issued to schools and parents by the NCERT.