Will cyber security as a subject help college students?

Students of technical courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level will now be studying a new subject: cyber security and information security. The University Grants Commission (UGC), taking note of the growing use of computer and information technology in various aspects of daily life, has issued a notification to colleges to introduce this 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.”

Here, a few students share their thoughts on this issue.

Kiran N., eighth semester, CSE, Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bangalore

Nowadays, we deal with billions of pages of information on the Internet. We have online banking and money transfers, online shopping, social networking, emails, credit card numbers, passwords and so on. With all this sensitive data just roaming around on the Internet, it is very easy for a hacker to get hold of this information and use it for unlawful purposes.

Cyber security is to ensure that all the data in the network is secure. Today, even teens use the Internet extensively, without knowing the dangers they might face. I believe that cyber security is an important subject for engineers. It teaches them how unsecure data on the Internet can be, it teaches them the requirement of security, what harm the data they upload on the Internet is likely to face and how to tackle it. Once people are aware of the dangers of the Internet they can themselves secure the data they upload. They can look forward to a career in cyber security helping others prevent such attacks and even join cyber security centres across the world, securing the data online. Cyber security is one of the most important domains of networking in the world today.

S.N. Aditya, final year, CSE, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal

The addition of new subjects is always a touchy subject amongst most college students. Considering I’m from the same demographic, thinking of such a change objectively becomes easier when the change does not affect me anymore.

The first year in most colleges is wasted learning generic subjects which have no bearing whatsoever on the future of the student. Cyber security may sound a very exciting prospect. However, going by the general trend of things, the reality of it will be mugging up theory with absolutely no emphasis on the practical aspect of the subject.

Instead of grading students on what will surely be a letdown of an avenue to an otherwise exciting field, workshops should be conducted instructing students on how to adhere to safe practices and deal with common problems which most people don’t know how to tackle, instead of forcing more theory onto their already full plates.

S. Raghav Kishan, third year computer science, The Oxford College of Engineering

I think cyber security as a subject is needed in engineering because it would help us to decide to take it as a career or not, and also it is very important to protect information about ourselves and people related to us. These days, computers form an important part of life and hold a lot of information about a person and hence keeping it safe from people who would misuse it is important. Cyber security also includes ethical hacking which when known or studied or practised helps us to know how to protect ourselves from attacks and breaches in the security of our systems. So, I would like to have cyber security as a subject in engineering.

Swathi Rao, third year biotech, The Oxford College of Engineering

As technology progresses, there is a constant need to protect this technology as wherever there is good there is bound to be bad. This is why cyber security attacks occur. These attacks range from viruses to major issues like cyber espionage or national security breaches. In the engineering syllabus, computer science and information science courses have parts of cyber security like ethical hacking in the early semesters, but not cyber security as a separate subject.

If we do have it as a separate subject it will be beneficial in some ways and not so in some ways. The advantage of having detailed knowledge of protecting your accounts, personal information, passwords, confidential data, etc., will be appreciated and learnt by all students and hence will make people more aware of the importance of cyber security and the dangers involved in hacking, cyber attacks and manipulating another person's data.

On the other hand, it is not necessary for everyone to learn it as a separate subject as parts of it have already been taught. This means students have a basic knowledge of cyber security. A detailed knowledge might be unnecessary for students except for the ones who plan to specialise in the subject.

Deepak Kumar V.R., sixth semester, computer science, SJB Institute of Technology

The new millennium signalled the dawn of a new era for people: to interact, transact and live in the ".com" domain. This meant leaving our footprint in cyber space whatever we do. And hackers are waiting to scour every trace of our activity online. Individuals aren’t alone targeted, organisations are put to test every day. No matter how vigilant we are, our attempts to protect ourselves on the Internet would seem frivolous and many of us fall prey to identity theft, phishing scams, etc. So, people must live by efficient means to protect themselves. I feel that the current curriculum lacks the subjects which deal with these issues. One cannot stress how important cyber security is; reforms must be made to push subjects like cyber security in the curriculum, so that engineers/developers can work on providing security measures and protection to the public and to various enterprises/organisations.

Vinuta Chopra, sixth semester, CSE, Visvesvaraya Technological University

In my opinion, cyber security must be included in the curriculum of VTU. With an exponential increase in the rate of people having easy access to the numerous social networking sites available today, providing adequate information and security is an inevitable necessity. However, there is a lack of knowledge and resources for such immense security. Engineers today have unnecessary and outdated theoretical knowledge about technology advancements. Cyber security has a lot of scope in other countries. By providing knowledge about the subject at undergraduate levels, we can maximise the security and minimise cyber-related crimes. Cyber security must be given the priority it deserves.