Cyber security challenges for women

Noting the growing instances of violence against women in cyber space in the form of cyber bullying, stalking, uploading of objectionable content and threats, NLSIU has initiated study titled ‘Cyber Security – Challenges under Cyber Space specially for women users’. The one-year research project is supported by the National Commission for Women.

Rapid changes in technology, specifically in the realm of cyber space, have heralded a new era of development, opportunity, and knowledge. However, the fast-growing reach of the internet, along with speedy spread of mobile information and escalated use of social media, has also resulted in an increase in crimes. In this context, the vulnerabilities that women suffer in the physical world translate to this virtual world and are at times exacerbated on account of its rapid and universal reach, potential for anonymised use, and limited user awareness.

Focus Areas

A brief overview of the cyber-crime statistics in India suggest that the current approach to cyber-crime prevention is insufficient. This may be on account of several factors, each of which has a distinct role to play in the experience of the crime by women and in its investigation by the police. In additional to the wider structural reasons for crimes against women more generally, some of the factors which have an impact on victimisation and investigation vis-à-vis cyber-crimes in particular are:

  • Limited awareness of the threats of cyber space and the precautions to be taken.
  • Limited knowledge of the legal provisions and policy initiatives for protection and redressal.
  • Lack of sufficient cooperation and support from internet service providers.
  • Inadequate infrastructure and know-how for investigation.
  • The study will adopt a mixed methods approach to collect and analyse data. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be adopted to collect data from different stakeholders including victims, vulnerable women, government representatives, CSOs, cyber cell officers, service providers, cyber cafe operators, etc. Primary data will be supplemented by secondary data. The data will thereafter be analysed using descriptive statistics, graphical representation and also multilinear regression.

Methodology & Objective

The study seeks to collect data from not only private individuals but also institutional representatives such as prior victims, IT professionals and students in private settings; institutional representatives at IT offices and universities; and police officials on the station premises, along with focus group discussions

The main objective of this study remains to analyse the extent of awareness of potential female victims of cyber-crimes and the nature and extent of obstacles faced by enforcement authorities.