Weak cyber practices make it easier for saboteurs to carry out attacks, say strategic analysits.
According to them, cyber education, cyber hygiene, cyber safety and cyber awareness constitute the crucial quadrant to counter cyber radicalisation.
There is a strong need for public-private partnership to counter radicalisation in cyber space, the experts told a conference held at a local hotel in the city on Thursday.
The national conference on ‘Cyber Radicalisation: Challenges and Way Forward’ was organised by the Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research (BCTR), a specialised centre of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS).
Canadian high commissioner Benoit Préfontaine said at the conference that radicalisation and violent extremism were challenges faced by all countries around the world.
Preventing and countering violent extremism was a priority of the Canadian government, he added.
The diplomat said there was a growing demand for Canadian expertise in cyber security as there existed certain caveats in the technical advancements being made in cyber space.
“Terrorists use the same platform as online commerce, trade and economic growth, for their recruitments, fund raising and planning their attacks,” the high commissioner pointed out. “We must continue collaborating on news ways to meet new threats. We must up our game.”
Presenting a paper on ‘Cyber Radicalisation: Threats and Challenges’, BCTR research fellow Shafqat Munir said, “Cyber radicalisation is an online-offline combine.”
He said, all major militant organisations have formed their own cyber radicalisation cells, using these to send out their message. "Internet has been a force multiplier in strategic communication for the militants.”
Highlighting the challenges of cyber radicalisation, he said terrorist groups can reach an incalculably vast audience with no travel required, minimal costs, no logistics or transportation support and the odds of detection are low. The newly radicalised no longer need to pack up and head for the Middle East. ‘Jihadi groups’ encourage attacks at home.
Shafqat Munir put forward policy recommendations, including preventing measures against marginalisation and discrimination against minorities, steps to ensure freedom of expression, and effective awareness programmes, effective monitoring without suppression.
He also pointed to the need for the government to formulate strong policies for counter radicalisation and de-radicalisation.
“Law enforcement organisations must understand the latest communication tools and be positioned to identify and prevent terror attacks,” he said, emphasising the need for more research on the use of the internet and social media by violent extremists.
Director of the Mumbai-based Centre for International Security at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, Sameer Patil, made a presentation on ‘Cyber Education, Cyber Hygiene, Cyber Safety and Cyber Awareness: The Crucial Quadrant’.
He highlighted the existing cyber threats as misusing social media including cyber bullying and trolling, hacking websites, online black markets, threats to critical national infrastructure, cyber enabled economic espionage, hacking electoral systems, and so on.
“Cyber hygiene is the key,” Patil emphasised, saying that this constituted a fundamental step to cyber security. “Bad cyber hygiene creates enough entry points in the systems for the saboteurs to carry out cyber attacks. The ultimate example of poor cyber hygiene is the Equifax data breach of 2017.”
Samir Patil highlighted the need to address the decreasing resilience to cyber threats, saying, “We have to think of our personal devices as gateways to cyber security. When it comes to social media, it must be kept in mind that the internet records everything and forgets nothing. ‘Think before you post’ - that is the golden rule for online communication.”
Speaking on the ‘Impact of Social Media: Living in the Virtual World’, Aparupa Bhattacharjee, Project Associate of India’s National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at the Indian Institute for Sciences Campus, Bangalore, said that extremists use cyber space more for recruitments in Europe. In South Asia it was used more for spreading their narrative.
She said society had a role to play and should address the child even more than the youth, through right education, the family role, talking, and educating them on the use of cyber space.
President of BIPSS Muniruzzaman pointed to the active presence of potential recruiters in the internet targeting the youth. There was a need for clear a concept of the problem to formulate nation polices, he said, emphasising the strong need for public-private partnerships to counter cyber radicalisation. “There is need for better understanding to analyse militant behavior in cyber space,” he concluded.
The day-long conference was attended by foreign diplomats and representatives of international agencies, members of the security forces, academics and other key stakeholders.