Author interview: SK Sethi's new book warns cyber frauds will be on the rise in the coming years and how to protect yourself
The book ‘1 Cyber Attack Can Ruin You Forever’ is all about cyber risks, the manner in which cyber crime is committed, precautions required to safeguard yourself from cyber attacks as far as possible, and more.
Mr. S K Sethi, congratulations on the release of your new book ‘1 Cyber Attack Can Ruin You Forever’. Tell us something about this book. What is the book about?
This book is focussed on case studies about the growing menace of Cyber Crime, which has become a bigger industry than illegal drug trafficking in recent years. Pandemic has given an additional boost to it as in India and abroad a large number of employees were compelled to work from home, where Cyber Security was not as strong as was possible in their office environment. This resulted in a large increase in cyber-attacks, and sometimes this growth was as high as 500 per cent.
Is it a very technical book for technical people or suitable for any average reader and user of the internet? In other words, who are your target readers who will benefit from this book?
This is a book for all users of computers and related devices. All of us are using Laptops, I-pads, Tablets and Smartphones for communication, financial transactions, storage of personal and even official business data.
Any mistake or hacking of any of these devices can result in financial loss or image loss or destruction of brand value, which might have been created over 20 years.
This can happen with hacking of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.
In short this book is for nontechnical people. But let me assure you that technical people will also find it useful and it will be good for society as when they understand the importance of Cyber Security, it will be easy to spread the information about Cyber Hygiene or Cyber consciousness among employees.
There are other books in the market about cyber security. How is your book different from other books on a similar subject?
Many books are focussed on definitions of Cyber Hacking terms and clauses of IT Act and are too theoretical for passing some basic level examinations. This is a practical book supported with case studies to let the reader absorb the knowledge about the types of Cyber Risks, the manner in which Cyber Crime is committed, precautions required to safeguard you and be prepared for safety from Cyber Attacks as far as possible. Many people do not know about Cyber Insurance Policy, which is comparatively a new product. A full chapter is devoted to this.
After every case study we have given Learning for the reader. Last chapter is having facts as a reminder. Large number of quotes and diagrams, cartoons are an attractive feature, which add to the high level of readability of the book.
Tell us an interesting case study from your book in a nutshell which will help our readers understand the importance of this book and how they are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
It is generally seen that CEOs (generally being from manufacturing or marketing functional areas) do not give importance to budgeting of IT departments and are having high faith in the ability of IT heads. Assumption made by them is that some antivirus being used in the company is sufficient.
Let us take examples of 'locks' – every home or shop is using locks then you can assume that robbery/theft cases in a city should be zero. It does not happen like that as criminals are always looking for opportunities to break in and commit crime. Same is with Cyber Crime. Criminals are sending phishing mails, free offers so that a gullible person falls into the trap and becomes their victim.
In the USA, CEOs of three big corporations - Steinhafel of Yahoo, Mulligan of Target and Richard Smith of Equifax lost their jobs when the IT systems of these large organizations were hacked. Let us remember that those big organizations were also having highly paid IT Heads and they must have also installed Anti-Virus Software. Even then hacking of their computers was done.
You have to start appreciating the facts that Cyber Criminals are highly motivated technical persons (mostly individuals in an entrepreneur role) who get a kick in hacking and of course get high monetary rewards by misusing stolen data or even putting them on the DarkNet.
Please tell our readers a bit about your background and your expertise in the subject.
I did my B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, MBA from Faculty Of Management Studies, University of Delhi, and a Course in Corporate Finance from London Business School . Have spent a long time setting up large manufacturing projects in the country and that too with foreign collaborations. Since 2001, I have been focusing on Insurance, am Founder Director of RIA Insurance Brokers P Ltd and Founder CEO of Insurance Foundation of India.
You are also a speaker and into other activities. When do you find time to write? Do you have other books? What are they? Or do you have other books planned on a similar subject or other subjects?
Participation in conferences and seminars gives an opportunity to speak or be chair panel discussions or be an ordinary participant. I like it as this adds to my knowledge base and also gives me an opportunity to meet people from the industry.
Personally, I believe that for writing a book one should have the desire to do so; if it is there, then you will be motivated to take out time. This book has come out - you can say is outcome of optimum utilization of the time, which was available to me due to pandemic lock down. In 2005, I wrote ‘Best Guide to Buy Health Insurance’, which is a success story. My two forthcoming books will be Hindi translation of this book and a new book will be on insurance frauds, where we as an NGO are propagating that India needs an Insurance Frauds Control Act.
You also run a NGO. What are the activities of your NGO?
Insurance Foundation of India set up in 2009 is the only NGO conducting International level programmes in India and abroad. Our faculty consists of the best talent within India as well as from foreign countries. During the pandemic, we have conducted webinars and participants from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Switzerland, and Germany have attended our skill development programmes.
This book is an outcome of many such programmes on this topic and interaction I had with hundreds of persons and their inputs.
How will cyber-attacks change in nature in the next 10 years?
Cyber-attacks will grow at a very fast pace in the years to come as more and more people will have access to smartphones. A desire to download a free App or to watch a movie free of cost is a common tool to look for cyber victims. Desire to use free wi-fi at Airport or Mall has to be curbed.
Figures as high as 75 per cent employees operating in WFH (Work from Home) environment is going to result in more and more hackings. Maintaining loyalty of the employees when they are not being looked from behind the shoulders by the supervisor is a big question. Rs 50 crores lost by a Noida firm and Rs 130 crores lost by an Italian firm operating from Mumbai are going to be a common feature. Overconfidence of IT heads or lopsided IT Budget (covered under need for balanced IT Budget under Sethi Concept of IT Budget) are an eye opener for you. The world is losing /will lose hundreds of billions in US dollar terms in the coming years. As you will read in this book that losses incurred and losses being projected in the next 10 years are huge in numbers and are an eye opener for you.