How Tech Can Help In Creating Safe Spaces For Women Online?

The leading faces of some of the prominent cyber security organisations provide their insight on dealing with online security threats against women.

Avishka Tandon
Updated On
New Update
creating safe space for women online
While safety for women remains a major issue in today's world, our solutions and suggestions are often confined to the limits of the spaces in the physical world like streets, households and workplaces. We tend to neglect the fact that the rapidly expanding virtual space is also not safe for women and hence requires reform to improve the situation of women online.

SheThePeople aims at creating a platform for discussion on the need for safety measures to be implemented online and spreading awareness about it through the second edition of the Online Safety Summit for Women. The summit brings professionals and intellectuals together to discuss how online safety issues can be tackled effectively and how we can create a better virtual space for women.

The speakers in this panel titled 'How Tech Can Help In Creating Safe Spaces For Women Online' include the leading faces of some of the prominent cyber security organisations who provide their insight on dealing with online security threats against women. We have the leader of cyber security at General Mills Usha Karimpanakkil, cyberpsychologist and psychotherapist Nirali Bhatia who is also the founder of CyberBaap and director of V4Web and Shreekumar Nair, founder and CEO of Vinca Cyber.

As the virtual space is expanding and evolving, the cases of online harassment, threat and abuse are also increasing. Women become subjects of online misconduct, often by faceless people and nameless accounts and sometimes without even knowing it. The panel aims at identifying cyber misconduct, preventing it and taking relevant actions against it.

Suggested Readings: How Parents Can Deal With Inhibitions, Challenges About Online Safety


Creating Safe Space For Women Online

Online Safety Issues And Cyber Harassment

Before looking for a solution, it is important to understand what actually is cyber security and what online interactions can threaten online safety. Talking about this, Usha Karimpanakkil tells about various forms of cyber harassment like phishing, cyberstalking, bullying, trolling, catfishing, approaching and exploiting women and girls online and threatening the privacy and personal information of someone.

Nirali Bhatia emphasises how small acts of misconduct online account to cybercrime and says, "From a simple name calling or a teasing to a massive threat or an attack, the entire umbrella is very huge targeting individuals starting right from children to senior citizens to and organisations. So it is a big gamble and the biggest threat to cyberspace. "

What Are Financial Frauds And How To Prevent Them?

From common to the elite, everyone has been made a victim of online swindling which is why it becomes important to know what are financial frauds and how they take place. Usha Karimpanakkil talks about the various links that we get through texts and emails about lotteries, credit cards and password changes that actually aim at tricking you into accessing your personal information.


She says, "It could take all kinds of shapes and forms and people could just be aware. The only recommendation for people is to be careful, check on the line of caution before you are clicking on this link and always double check, use that option to check with the bank, who has sent the link and the authenticity of the link."

People today have a habit of updating everything about their life on the internet, from vacations to house tours and achievements. These pieces of information online are used by scammers to know your location, what you are currently doing and what you will be doing in future. Shreekumar Nair talks about how this habit of being active online gives people a peek into your personal life and threatens your security.

He says, "Today we want to have everything on the app and then what happens, you start clicking things, you want things faster. Unfortunately, the search provider does not have enough filters to put these scammers out. Whosoever has paid the money to him or her, the company, will come on the top page. You click the link, you don't know if it's a genuine link or not."

Nirali Bhatia tells about the Indian cyber crime helpline number 1930 which is exclusively for financial frauds. She says that if there is an unknown transaction from your account, immediately call the bank to freeze the transaction and approach the police to file a complaint. The initial few hours after a potential online fraud are called golden hours and that's when the chances of you getting your money back are the highest.

It is better to prevent such financial frauds instead of correcting them and Nirali Bhatia enlists some of the measures to do so. She tells that we should never access any financial app on public wifi because they are a hub of hackers and scams, remember that we don't need to click on any link or scan anything to receive a payment, scanning and clicking take place only when we are sending a payment, prefer QR scanners instead of links to pay online and if possible, have a different card for online transactions and keep its transaction limit low.

Safety Online And Mental Well-Being Of Kids


Post-pandemic, online engagement of children has increased drastically as it became their only source of education and entertainment. Nirali Bhatia says that instead of cutting off their access to the internet, it is better to be careful of how they use it. For young kids, use child-friendly browsers, limit their screen time, give them access to a single device, make sure their devices have anti-virus and monitor their online activity through apps.

With teenagers, it becomes important to respect their privacy and it's better to create a friendly, non-judgemental environment at home so that they are comfortable with sharing what they go through online. It is important for parents to be updated with the technology and know what's new around them.

Cyber Security In Corporate World

Usha Karimpanakkil talks about how female corporate employees think that their company devices and systems are the safest but they can too be subject to security threats and fraud if they are not careful about what they are clicking and accessing. It often happens that frauds in the corporate world happen over texts and emails from trusted sources like senior administration, important clients and vendors. New employees tend to receive emails from someone posing as a senior that asks them to access certain links or sites which can lead to trouble.

Karimpanakkil says that it is always advised to verify the source of such texts or emails, and service requests from someone posing as a client or a company transaction to avoid fraud and do not to use software from unknown and free sources online. Female employees are often the subject of an online data privacy breach and hate speech. Karimpanakkil's advice for females is that they should always check the authenticity of apps and download only from certified sources. Avoid sharing too much about yourself online as you don't know who is accessing it with what intention. Always have a conversation if you find something suspicious and try to reach out to someone.

Nirali Bhatia tells cyber hygiene steps to follow for women to avoid online frauds like anti-virus and operating system is updated, removing the apps that you download for certain purposes once the purpose is complete, regularly checking the privacy settings of every app on your device to monitor what information it can access, regularly clear browser cookies and cache, keep your personal information on apps private, keep your personal and professional profiles on app separate.

Cyber Security Tools And Responding To Cyber Harassment

Shreekumar Nair says that whenever we do something online, we don't know what is going on behind that action and that's what makes it vulnerable to unknown changes. It is important to not share personal information online like passwords and IDs to prevent cybercrime. Women face harassment online which is a major issue that needs to be tackled. Nirali Bhatia talks about what steps a woman should take to report cyber harassment.

She said that one should report harassment on the platform itself as platforms have algorithms that cannot detect inappropriate content due to regional language limits and it becomes your duty to point out misconduct on that platform. Ask your friends and family to report such accounts that take such inappropriate actions. Speak up about cyber harassment without embarrassment and reach out to organisations and people you trust in order to take action against online misconduct.

You should also file a complaint regarding online harassment on the national cybercrime portal and police will reach out to you to punish your harasser. Don't shy away because of lack of family support or shame but it is important to understand it is not your fault and you always have a solution to get out of it.

Watch the panel discussion ">here.

Online Safety Summit