Nepal’s institutions prone to cyber attacks: A need for stronger provisions and investment

During the initial lockdown imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 individuals suddenly were unable to physically attend at their workplaces. Hence, most were left with the choice to resort to virtual platforms to continue working. This change in situation has suddenly increased the engagement of people in the digital platforms and subsequently increased the number of internet users. Consequently, it has encouraged businesses, institutions, and entrepreneurs alike to reach out to people via digital platforms, and urged institutions to innovate and develop virtual infrastructure to serve clients and customers. In the meantime, it has created major concerns like privacy issues and data security that has not been addressed adequately. As such, personal data like work, health, and other sensitive financial and social information are literally unprotected and vulnerable to unsolicited access by data invaders.  And undoubtedly, it has caught the interest of cyber hackers with the intention to misuse the data.  Only recently, a newly created twitter account claimed that it had hacked sensitive customer data from Prabhu Money Transfer with an open statement of their intent. This shows that it has created a grave threat because if credible institutions like banks with perceived stronger data security systems can be breached by perpetrators, then let alone small businesses with least investment in data security.

In a nutshell, the growing number of internet users and technology has created a space for more cybercrimes and inadequate data security infrastructure has kept the users in vulnerable situations. Hence, it has exerted more pressure to maintain the security in the IT sector. After all, as web-based  businesses and advanced administration has become more ordinary, the consequences of data breaching have started to become more serious. 

At present, the electronic transaction act has considered unsolicited data hacking as a criminal offense, and any person who violates the rule shall be liable to the punishment with imprisonment not exceeding three years or with a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand Rupees or with both. These acts are only implemented when the crime is committed. But why are there no preventive policies to demotivate these actions in the first place? Is this security provision enough? 

Despite the prevalent  policies, what is lacking the most is the precautions to be taken individually. There should be knowledge about data breaching and its consequences among the citizens themselves. Rather than solely depending on the government to deliver the solutions, institutions with digital presence should also invest in infrastructure that helps increase the security firewalls and avoid minor loop holes and bugs. With the existing policies brought into implementation, the government should also take action on how these crimes can be prevented alongside. If this goes correspondingly, there would be chances of having less risk of data breach.

Moon Shrestha

Moon Shrestha is a research intern at Samriddhi Foundation. She is a fresh graduate of Social Science from National College.

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