The term ‘Human Security’ was popularized in the 1990’s by the UNDP that used it to bring attention to various humanitarian, economic and social issues that needed to be tackled in order to alleviate human suffering and ensure their security. Security, back then was limited to the ideas of physical safety by preventing and guarding against violence or any bodily harm. However, with the coming of the internet and subsequently, the cyber world, the notion of security has now gained a new dimension. Now, not only does one need to protect themselves against the threats in the real world, but also need to lay equal emphasis on protecting themselves online.
Recognizing the need to take on online security as seriously as physical defense, a group of executives from the popular web provider, Mozilla organized workshops for women for them to examine and learn better solutions for safety online. One of the executives explained how online harassment made a growing number of women feel insecure making them apprehensive towards interacting or being online.
The objective of this workshop was to make these women understand the spaces they were in, whether in real life or online and consequently learning how to protect themselves from online as well as physical real life threats. Unlike most cyber security workshops, this aimed at equipping the women to tackle all threats arising from the juxtaposition of the virtual and the real world. They began with discussing the steps everyone must take to feel ore empowered online. This included guidelines on how much and what information one must share online, caution over following email links among several other precautions one must observe. They then proceeded to security in the real world where they had demonstrations on Krav Maga self defense techniques with the help of a professional instructor. They believe that the internet can only be a healthy place when people feel safe to create and communicate, and that is how every woman who attended the workshop felt.
The organizers felt that encouraging women in the physical sense and empowering them to be strong and confident individuals would help them take control of their lives online as well. Although physical threats in the real life appear to be more serious considering their impact is visible and immediate, it is important to remember that harassment online severely affects people’s mental health leaving them with a constant sense of insecurity and anxiety, triggering physical reactions in many cases. With over 48% of the youth population online being cyber bullied the risks and threats to individuals online see to be on a rise. In times like these thus, each one of us should use the internet as empowered and aware individuals who not only know how to respond to threats online but are also aware of the precautions we must take to prevent the same.