While the advantages of social media are so many, the threats to internal security in various forms like Cyber Terrorism, Fraud, crime, spreading violence, etc. are alarmingly become frequent now. Various external state and non-state actors are using various social media platforms to spread propaganda globally, including in India.
As internet has increased its reach and has become very accessible, it is a tool effectively used by state and non-state actors to spread ‘Internet-enabled’ terrorism, spread hate and tensions and disrupt the overall stability through their agenda:
- Radicalisation of youth: Propaganda information to recruit for terror groups like AQIS, LeT on telegram have been intercepted by NIA.
- Use of Internet by Daesh: Daesh has been using Internet to spread its propaganda using platforms such as twitter, YouTube etc.
- Constant involvement and interaction: By ‘cyber-planners’, who will be responsible for planning terror attacks, identifying recruits, act as “virtual coachers”, and provide guidance and encouragement throughout the process.
- In Recruitment from other countries: India has also suffered from it however less severely. Increasing number of cases of youth being influenced by social media to carry out propaganda of hate and violence has been reported in many areas.
- Rise of sentiments over sensitive issues: By spreading false propaganda and fraudulent ideologies over sensitive and triggering issues of India using morphed videos, or false claims of proof of injustice etc.
Precautions to avoid such threats
- Review of the IT Act to make it stronger and setting up a crack team to respond to unusual incidents on a war footing.
- Strengthening the existing infrastructure: e-Surveillance Projects: National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), CERT-In, Central Monitoring System (CMS), Internet Spy System Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIPC) of India etc.
- Strengthening of social networking sites.
- Responsible social media by citizens themselves can avoid a major risk threat.
- Awareness programmes regarding the safe usage of Internet and social media among the people.
- Training and employing ethical hackers to check vulnerabilities present in the cyberspace and respond quickly when there is a cyber-attack.
- Vulnerability of users: Several users get blackmailed, or taken advantage of using their vulnerability and misguided knowledge.
- Server location and laws of different countries: Lack of geographical boundaries makes social media regulation an arduous task. Major complicating factors to secure the networks and media are a huge concern.
- Encrypted message and anonymity: Use of phones/WhatsApp to send and receive messages, concerns the government because the communications sent via such devices and applications are encrypted and cannot be monitored and consequently hinders the country’s efforts to fight terrorism and crime.