Campaign to keep students safe online

Noticing a strange spike in cybergrooming, stalking and bullying following the pandemic outbreak, a group of media students from Kerala and Tamil Nadu has launched an inter-State online cyber awareness campaign with the support of ethical hackers to reach out to vulnerable groups and make them aware of social media safety measures. The five-day campaign, โ€˜#404-Online Errors Foundโ€™, will cover select schools and colleges in both the States.

โ€œWhile many of us enjoy staying connected on social media, its excessive use can fuel feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation or fear of missing out (FOMO), which is yet to be a matter of focus. We thought of doing it now as a proper awareness initiative on time can save many students,โ€ says Thomas Hans Ben, one of the coordinators of the campaign representing Madras Christian College (MCC).

The first-round of online sessions attended by cyber experts for some of the schools in Tamil Nadu and Kerala are over, he adds.

Interactive sessions

According to Mr. Ben, the campaign will also have national-level interactive sessions where students, teachers, parents or the general public can directly converse with ethical hackers to clear their doubts or seek solutions on social media security issues. Hadlee Wilson, an ethical hacker and certified information systems security professional, is handling the interactive panel discussions. Though the project is now led by the MCCโ€™s Department of Communication, the support of resource persons and ethical hackers from different States is expected to take it to a wider audience through social media and streaming channels, he adds.

Jobin Joy, who coordinates online sessions, says fake accounts, cyber attacks, and fraudulent financial deals are part of the virtual space now, where newcomers will have to be more cautious. โ€œA better surveillance will become a reality only when all are aware of challenges. We are doing our best to take such a cause forward,โ€ he says.

โ€œMany of our younger ones are now glued to the cyber space. This transition following the pandemic outbreak will become a healthy affair only when we develop immunity to threats,โ€ he adds.

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