Cyberspace: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - February - 2015


Cyberspace word was introduced by William Gibson in Cotton and Oliver. It is defined as “A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..” In simple terms it can be defined as “the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs.” Cyberspace serves as a platform for people to interact, share ideas and aspirations, play games, engage in political discussion and so on inexpensively. It has broken down the barriers between the peoples and nations.

Once things happening in a country or a small city used to be confined to that particular city or country and hardly known to others for a quiet long time. But now the scenario has totally changed with the news spreading within a blink of eye. Text messages were used to organize massive protests which ultimately became orange revolution which lead up to 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine. In 2005 in Lebanon, e-mail and text messaging were used by activists to coordinate and bring a million demonstrators into the streets to demand that the Syrian government end nearly three decades of military presence in Lebanon by withdrawing its 14,000 troops. Result of 2009 Iran presidential elections flooded not only the streets of Iran with protesters but internet, twitter opposing the election results. Egypt spring 2012 gained its momentum through the aid of cyberspace. This role played by social media in Egypt revolution has been applauded across the world as success of cyberspace in bringing active civic participation, mobilizing popular protest for democracy. In all these protests cyberspace was used as a bridge to bring people, their ideas together and provide much needed space for communication.

Is cyberspace a new place for protest? Are these protests for peace or for terror. Many terrorist and extremist organizations utilize cyberspace for spreading its own agenda. ISIS flooding internet with video clips of its brutal acts and people closely following these videos and photos as a kind of reality show is contributing as a great deal to the organization’s popularity. A few Indian youth inspired by these left India to join ISIS. A software engineer based in Bangalore with fake twitter account used to gather information about ISIS and translate from Arabic to English and post it on internet. Cyberspace is slowly turning to a cyber warfare. In order to counter the threat which Cyber space poses government has designed a cyber security policy main features of the policy are:-

  • This policy aims at facilitating creation of secure computing environment and enabling adequate trust and confidence in electronic transactions and also guiding stakeholders actions for protection of cyber space. 
  • Computers Security Policies, Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines were formulated and circulated to all Ministries / Departments for implementation. 
  • The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issues alerts and advisories regarding latest cyber threats and countermeasures on regular basis. 
  • The National Cyber Security Policy document outlines a road-map to create a framework for comprehensive, collaborative and collective response to deal with the issue of cyber security at all levels within the country. 

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