In the face of increasing concerns around cybersecurity in India, a social impact initiative, Akancha Against Harassment, has gained support from leading CEOs of the country. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm; Ritesh Malik, founder of Innov8 have joined the board of advisors of the initiative.
The initiative led by Akancha Srivastava aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) to operate a national multilingual chat helpline for cyber safety. This helpline allows users to get information anonymously, as well as trigger SOS in a crisis situation.
Launched in January 2018, the company has intervened in more than 167 trauma cases. The initiative is focusing on educating the society about prevention of cyber harassment and empowering internet users by providing the right information on laws and rights. It also bridges the gap between the authorities and victims by securing the support of authorities across states.
The initiative is supported by various educationists, lawyers, lawmakers, political leaders and the entrepreneur community. This includes Indian police as well as other influencers.
Srivastava, founder of Akancha Against Harassment said, that they have reached over 80 Mn people in the country, and with the launch of Hindi helpline, it hopes to reach more than 150 Mn people in 2019.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO- Paytm said, “Social change is our collective responsibility. ‘Akancha Against Harassment’ has done considerable work towards Cyber Safety education & gathered a lot of support from authorities in a short span of time. She has demonstrated that using technology, education & support of civic authorities in the right manner can achieve positive change.”
Ritesh Malik, founder of Innov8 said, “With technology penetration at its nascent peak, India is susceptible to cyber harassment like no other country in the world. We don’t realize but 24% of all the harassment in the country is online & no one was looking at this fundamental challenge.”
In May, India was reported as the second most cyberattacks affected country, between 2016 to 2018. The average cost for a data breach in India has risen 7.9% since 2017, with the average cost per breached record amounting to INR 4,552 ($64). The RBI too recorded a total of 2,059 cases of cyber fraud in 2017-18 as compared to 1,372 cyber fraud cases in 2016-17.
A study by the US cyber tech firm CrowdStrike says that Indian companies’ average response time to cyber breaches is nine days (222 hours) while globally companies on average take 7 days (162 hours). The Indian government will unveil an official cybersecurity strategy policy in January next year. While India is in the process of finalising a data protection law, an official cybersecurity policy would help shore up defences across the board.