ADGP Varun Kapoor with his unique movement, 'Project Cy Cops' is paving a path of cybercrime education in MP
In an exclusive interview with BW PoliceWorld, ADGP Varun Kapoor talks about ‘Project Cy Cops’, cyber education initiative in Indore to educate every school child on cybercrime through their teachers. that recently fetched him the prestigious FICCI SMART Policing Awards 2021
Photo Credit : Varun Kapoor, Varun Kapoor, Varun Kapoor, Varun Kapoor, Varun Kapoor,
New Delhi, November 10
An IPS officer and a torchbearer on cybercrime prevention and education, additional DGP Varun Kapoor has taken the onus to reach every single child in Madhya Pradesh to spread awareness on cybercrime and build a cyber-army of prevention.
An IPS officer of 1991 batch, Varun Kapoor conceptualized ‘Project Cy Cops’, cyber education initiative in Indore to educate every school child on cybercrime through their teachers. The Project Cy-Cops has fetched him the prestigious FICCI SMART Policing Awards 2021.
In an exclusive interview to the BW PoliceWorld, ADGP Varun Kapoor talks about Project Cy-Cops and other interesting initiatives he conceptualized in this movement against cybercrime.
1) Tell us about your successful initiative Project Cy-Cops that has won accolades in Madhya Pradesh.
Cyber Crime and insecurity is on a steep upward curve. As a result all sections of society, which includes children; students, youth, women, housewives, professionals, businesses, elderly and what have you are being regularly targeted with all types of cyber-attacks. Project Cy-Cops is a novel and path breaking project in cyber security education.
I observed that children are the most vulnerable targets to cybercrime after women. During the pandemic, the children were dependent on Internet for school education as well entertainment. That phase also brought a severe surge in children falling prey to cybercrime. Hence, I thought that this current world of digitalisation and children taking up gaming, social networking and even studies online, there is an absolute need for cybercrime prevention.
The idea here is to teach the children through their teachers. So, we started organising two day course or training programme for the teachers in Indore who used to further teach the students on cybercrime prevention. The main target in the project are the children. So far, 120 schools in Indore have been a part of the project. The project aims to build student community for students who will be up in the arms to fight cybercrime. The children in school are most prone to the cybercrime with even education going digital especially during the pandemic. The children need to be informed on the risks, threats and danger the world of Internet offers alongwith the benefits.
I believe that cybercrime prevention should become a curriculum in schools not just in MP but in the whole country. The student should be taught every aspect of cybercrime and this is the only way to prevent them for falling prey to it. Only awareness and information can help.
Till date eight such training module have been completed and 300 teachers from 96 schools trained. I also started “Ojaswi Abhiyaan” which is aimed at training principals of all schools in Indore district and then other districts of MP in cyber security. The idea is that these principals will take back to their students the desired message. This project also aims to make a huge community of all students and awareness material would then be pumped directly to them. 317 school principals have been trained and equipped so far under this.
2) What has been the response of parents and schools in MP towards Project Cy-Cops?
The response of the parents and schools have been tremendous. They are not only interested to enroll themselves in to but feel the need of educating their child on cybercrime. Every parent is worried that the increasing use of gadgets is taking a toll on their children as well the risks of falling in wrong companies. When I conduct the sessions, there are many concerned parents and teachers who either narrate incidents of gaming addiction, misuse of social media, increase of screen time, no contact with physical world and children increasingly living in the virtual world.
As mentioned, awareness is the only solution for cybercrime, the families and teachers of the students want to learn. So that they can impart the education further to the little ones. After receiving the success in Indore, we are further taking this forward to all districts in MP and reaching every school we can.
3) Are girl students more prone to cybercrime then boys? How are you educating the girls to tackle cybercrime?
As it true that women are the first targets for cyber attackers, girl students are indeed more prone to falling prey to cybercrime. The cases of impersonation, unknown persons chatting, bullying and especially cyber stalking. For instance, the cyber stalking is mostly affecting the young girls and women. There is a very small percentage of boys getting affected by cyber stalking. The young girls are being taught about the issue, how it happens, what are the SOS steps, how to report and giving them more confidence that their parents and teachers will support them if they are affected by cybercrime. The girl students also fall prey to impersonation and they don’t realize they are talking to attackers. The children need to understand that having a social media profile or a phone or any gadget comes with responsibility and awareness on such criminal forces will only save them.
4) Please tell us about the award winning ‘Black Ribbon Initiative’.
This initiative was launched under the umbrella of Project Cy-Cops. Black Ribbon's core objective is to safeguard citizens from becoming victims of cybercrimes and offences. At the same time, it also work towards educating citizens about Information Technology (IT Act 2008) and Cyber laws in order to prevent them being offenders voluntarily or involuntarily due to lack of knowledge.
Till date 563 sessions across India in schools, colleges, institutions, organizations, departments etc. Over 400,000 citizens made aware in 2 hour long highly interactive sessions. Includes sessions in various countries outside India like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, United Kingdom etc.
Out of these 174 have been webinar based sessions during the COVID 19 times. This pan India effort in 28 states of the country is also a record in itself as lakhs of citizens have been reached and made cyber security aware and equipped.
5) You also introduced an interesting initiative called the ‘Blue Palm’ for training police and para military forces. Tell us more about it.
The Blue Palm Initiative has been designed for cybercrime training in police and para military forces. The idea is to train the trained force in cybercrime in the times of policing getting modernized and digitalized. When the law enforcement official gets trained on cybercrime, he is in a better position to investigate, further teach his junior officials and strengthen the force with more skills.
Over 5000 cutting edge level officers (SI-SP) of 20 state police forces; 6 different para military forces and the Indian Army trained in specialized course in 12 modules. Till date 136 such courses organized.
I have also been delivering lectures at regular faculty of premiere training institutions of the country like the National Police Academy (Hyderabad); North East Police Academy (Shillong); Internal Security Academy (Mt Abu); Madhya Pradesh Police Academy (Bhopal); Rajasthan Police Academy (Jaipur); Academy of Administration (Bhopal); ITBP Academy (Mussoorie); BSF Academy (Indore); Police Radio Training School (Indore) along with number of Universities and Schools across the country. Over 100 such lectures were delivered at these institutions for the police under training.
6) You took a unique step of training wildlife officials on using cyber technology for improving wildlife protection ‘Roaring Tigers’. What is that about?
I am wildlife enthusiast and often visit the wildlife sanctuaries. My interest in the same also led to a book that I wrote on wildlife. The forest officials often face crimes of tiger poaching. Educating them on wildlife crimes and using cyber technology help them prevent such crimes at a large scale. Under this project, we trained the forest officials on the same.
These are special training workshops across the country for use of cyber technology for improving wildlife protection and solving wildlife crime. Till date 34 such workshops arranged and 1408 forest and other departmental officers from 14 states of the country. We are also started ‘Cyber Claw’ with National Tiger Conservation Authority of the Ministry of Environment & Forests of the GOI where officials at six leading tiger reserves are being trained on cyber security.
7) As a cyber-expert do you see social media as an addiction among kids or a tool that is benefitting them in growth?
Every coin has two sides and so is social media. On one side the children are using social media for communication and entertainment but on the other the various platforms of social media are leaving the kids addicted to a particular issue. For instance gaming apps. The gaming apps are just a source of business and the children who are into the same are not benefitting anything out of it. If the same children would go outdoors and play a sport, they will learn and grow. These children are sitting behind the screen and only playing games and chatting with unknown sources. They have no idea that not only their time but even their data is being misused. The social media apps are only pushing children behind the screen with little or no contact with the actual world. They chose to chat online instead of talking in person and this is not helping anyone. The children need to be sensitized that the virtual world of social media is not real. They need to learn to live in the real world and find that source of communication and entertainment. Social media can help them learn but they need to know what the sources of learning and information are. Most of the children have become addicts to such platforms and do not understand the danger of getting in contact with unknown sources who are waiting for potential targets. One needs to educate the children on the same.
8) What is your advice to the children and adults on the increasing incidents of cybercrimes- phishing, frauds, impersonation and harassment?
Phishing is the worst cybercrime among all. The word phishing comes from fishing where a person throws the fishing net to trap one fish. When the net is thrown not all fishes are trapped but that one fish gets trapped, which is the main motive of the trapper. The targets be it children or adults need to understand that they are like sitting ducks in the world of cybercrime. In cybercrime, one doesn’t know where the danger is coming from. Phishing will not only rob you of your money but your identity and even your location thereby compromising your security. Scammers find children and women as easy targets and social media profiles with little or no protection give them the benefit of committing the crime easily. If the scammers get your location which could be your home address then the safety of every person in the household is compromised.
My advice to them is firstly not to come in contact with strangers or unknown sources be it on any platform. If it is a known person, one should cross verify if the messages of any requests for help in terms of money were sent by the same person or not, women need to understand that their photographs are not the only targets for scammers, they are. The children need to be monitored thoroughly to know what agents are in touch with them. Awareness is the only solution to safeguard yourself because the police and cybercrime experts play a role later to detect the crime but prevention is better than detection.
ADGP Varun Kapoor is currently ADGP, Rustamji Armed Police Training College in Indore. He has served as SP in three districts – Dhar, Sehore & Ratlam. He was DIG in three ranges – Chhatarpur, Ratlam & Ujjain and ADG in one zone – Indore. His other posting includes IGP, Police Radio Training School, Indore; ADGP, Narcotics, Indore.
He joined India Police Service in 1991 and was allotted Madhya Pradesh Cadre. He has done his BE (Honours) Mechanical Engineering NIT Trichy (Tamil Nadu).
ADGP Kapoor has done extensive research in the field of cybercrime, cyber security, social media, mobile usage etc. His studies have been published in numerous national journals. He is is also a regular faculty at premier training institutions of the country.
ADGP Kapoor is also a certified trainer of United States Department of Justice (UNDOJ), Master trainer of United Kingdom department for Funding International Development (DFID), National Resource person of the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), New Delhi, National Level Trainer for World Wildlife Fund (WWF): TRAFFIC India, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) & Freelands.
He has headed two prestigious police training institutions of Madhya Pradesh Police – PRTS & RAPTC both at Indore. He is also appointed Chairman by BPR&D New Delhi of the National Committee to find out the Best Police Training Institution in the country in the year 2018.
He is the first police officer in Asia to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Cyber Security (Indore University).
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