Essay and Answer Writing → UPSC Essays

Cyberspace: Boon or Curse? [2016]

“The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow” – the world in the last few years has increasingly turned virtual. And in the wake of the Covid crisis and the ensuing lockdowns and social distancing norms, businesses have moved to the virtual space. Routine interactions and business is being done virtually, with the clicks of a few buttons. Internet and the web have become an essential part of every person’s life. Be it looking for information related to any subject or carrying out meetings, or exchanging important information, all of it is done via the web. Yet, cyberspace is not devoid of its share of problems. The essay evaluates the pros and cons of cyberspace to mankind. 
 
What’s cyberspace?
Cyberspace refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, an electronic medium that is used to facilitate online communication. Cyberspace’s core feature is an interactive and virtual environment for a broad range of participants. Cyberspace typically involves a large computer network made up of many worldwide computer sub-networks to aid in communication and data exchange activities.
 
The word became popular in the 1990s when the uses of the Internet, networking, and digital communication were all growing dramatically and the term cyberspace was able to represent the many new ideas and phenomena that were emerging. As a social experience, individuals can interact, exchange ideas, share information, provide social support, conduct business, direct actions, create artistic media, play games, engage in political discussion, and so on, using this global network. They are sometimes referred to as cybernauts. The term cyberspace has become a conventional means to describe anything associated with the internet.
 
Cyberspace includes: 
·physical infrastructures and telecommunications devices 
·computer systems and the related software 
·networks between computer systems
·networks of networks that connect computer systems 
·the access nodes of users and intermediaries routing nodes
·constituent data 
 
How is the cyberspace beneficial?
Cyberspace is related to the use of the global internet for diverse purposes, from commerce to entertainment. Wherever stakeholders set up virtual meeting spaces, we see the cyberspace existing. Wherever the internet is used, that creates a cyberspace. The prolific use of both desktop computers and smartphones to access the internet implies that cyberspace is growing. It is undeniable that the cyberspace has not only just grown and become a part of our daily lives, it has opened up immense avenues of possibilities and work:
 
·Information: Cyberspace allows users to share information, interact, swap ideas, play games, engage in discussions or social forums, conduct business and create intuitive media, among many other activities.
·Governance: people have access to people and problems. Grievances are raised quicker and the redressal is also faster. Every leader, politician, bureaucrat has a twitter account and they can be reached just by the click of a button! 
·Economic: activities and business has shifted to the internet. The prime example is perhaps the banking sector that uses advance forms of internet based applications making processes faster. Customer service platforms like ATMs and e-banking has made cash transfers and withdrawals faster. 
·Education: the internet has become a vast source of information and knowledge. There is scope and information for all kinds of students at all levels. The pandemic has shown us that the internet has broken geographical barriers in education. Teachers and students no longer need to converge physically in order to exchange ideas. 
 
The cyberspace has offered numerous benefits which the present generations enjoy in their day to day life, such as social networking, brand building, , online shopping, e-books, e-library, news, music and video entertainment, education, android and mobile apps to name just a few. The World Wide Web sounds like a vast phenomenon but surprisingly, one of its qualities is bringing the world closer making it a smaller place to live in for its users.
 
The problems
There have been increased concerns raised all over the world regarding the vulnerability of individuals in cyberspace. Attacks have become very common and ill-informed users have been regularly falling prey to such attacks. The incidence of spoofing has reached an apex level.
 
·Security: in order to avail facilities of social networking and online banking, one has to share personal data. This makes us prone to theft of data. 
·Virus: sometimes clicking links or unverified sites can lead to virus attacks on systems which may lead to a leak of data and other personal information.
·Cyber criminals: allows criminals to use spam and malware features to dupe people. 
·Wrong information and propaganda
 
While law enforcement agencies are trying to tackle this problem, it is growing steadily and many people have become victims of hacking, theft, identity theft and malicious softwares. One of the best ways to avoid being a victim of cybercrimes and protect our sensitive information is by making use of impenetrable security that uses a unified system of software and hardware to authenticate any information that is sent or accessed over the Internet.
 
Conclusion
It is the ‘age of information’ and it has made an approaching infinite amount of data accessible to all. Today, technologists pursue the means and ways to transform these oceans of information into actionable information, knowledge, and situational understanding. The cyberspace has turned into a blessing and a curse. On hand there are opportunities and information, on the other hand there is scope for misuse. It is therefore important that governance and securities take up the initiative of introducing relevant laws and programs to create a safe cyberspace. 



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