The UGC has issued a notification to colleges asking them to introduce cyber and information security as a subject

Students of various technical courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level will now have to gear up to study a new subject from the coming academic year: cyber security and information security.

With the growing use of computer and information technology in various aspects of daily life and at a point when there are growing concerns about Internet security, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a notification to colleges to introduce cyber security and information security as a subject.

The letter states that the decision has been taken as per the recommendations of the task force on national security system. “UGC and AICTE would ensure that cyber security/ information security is introduced as a subject in the universities/technical institutions at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.”

Sources in the UGC said that as a lot of commercial business activities were online and the instances of fraud were increasing, there was a need to create more human resources in cyber space.

Some of the academicians whom The Hindu spoke to mentioned that with the growing penetration of IT in all aspects of life, there was a need for students to have a fundamental idea about cyber security.

Rajnikanth, former Principal of M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, pointed out that awareness would prove to be useful as there was strong and deep penetration of IT into all sections. “Security of information is extremely essential today and there is a need for graduates from all streams to have a rudimentary idea of this issue. However, there is a need to structure it and ensure that the syllabus encompasses all aspects.”

M.S. Shivakumar, Principal, Atria Institute of Technology, said that 10 years ago Internet security was not an issue. “But today there is a lot of monetary transactions and information that is up in the cyber space. Therefore there is a need to have new courses in cyber security.” He said that colleges were expected to frame the syllabus and send the proposals to universities to get their approval.

A senior professor in VTU said that the process of introducing the course was under consideration.

However, there seems to be no consensus on the course structure among the academic fraternity.

Common syllabus

K.R. Venugopal, special officer, DVG Jnanavahini University, advocated the need for the course and said there was a need for students to know what constitutes cybercrime and how it could be tackled.

He pointed out that the syllabus should ensure that this is not a technical subject but a common syllabus for students of all streams.

But Mr. Rajnikanth feels that as the subject is vast, multidimensional and complex, different syllabus for different courses would help students.

The response from the student community to the proposal was mixed. While some students felt that there was a need to create more awareness on this issue, some others felt that the issue was irrelevant to students of some streams.

Suhas K., final year civil engineering student of BMS College of Engineering, said the introduction of the subject was a good initiative as the subject would add value to the course. “Information Technology is an important issue and awareness about this would help us tackle cyber security concerns.”

However, Saiesh N., a computer science student of PESIT, had a different view. While he felt that the course was relevant to him, he said that it may not be useful to his counterparts in other fields. “The course will turn out to be meaningless if introduced for people of other streams.”