High schooler Arnav Ramamoorthy got attracted to the field of cybersecurity and had been advocating the need for increased awareness and intervention around online safety and protocols.
Hyderabad: Cyber threats are an age-old problem but the consciousness to create awareness and contribute to society towards cyber readiness has no age bar. High schooler Arnav Ramamoorthy got attracted to the field of cybersecurity and had been advocating the need for increased awareness and intervention around online safety and protocols.
Recognising his enormous interest in cybersecurity and willingness to make a difference, Telangana government and Data Security Council of India (DSCI) appointed him as ‘digital brand ambassador’ to sensitise students in schools. Arnav Ramamoorthy shares with Telangana Today his interests, accomplishments, and aspirations in an interview. Excerpts-
Seeds of digital hygiene
I was born in 2004. Some interesting labels such as Gen Z, digital natives and Zoomers are used to refer to my demographic cohort. My generation was born in the lap of ‘data’. My parents introduced me to tablets loaded with educational content, books, and fun games at a young age. They also made sure that the seeds of digital hygiene, such as responsible surfing and optimal use of gadgets, were sown early.
Exposure to cybersecurity
The first professional exposure to the world of cybersecurity happened when I was selected as part of McAfee’s Explorer programme in Grade VIII. The programme introduced me to the dark web that lies underneath the shiny internet that we all use every day. This was also my foray into broadly understanding the sophisticated tools and approaches used by researchers to address security breaches, ransomwares, and data thefts.
Series of internships
In Grade IX, based on my coding skills and deep interest in cybersecurity, a Bangalore-based security start-up (Cloudsek) offered me a paid internship position. I was exposed to the art and science of matching data patterns using machine learning algorithms. This stint made me more knowledgeable about real world tools. In Grade X, I interned with another start-up that builds software used to shield mobile applications from external threat vectors. This was the first time I got a chance to build an Android app from scratch and enable it with a powerful SDK (software development kit) that would prevent reverse engineering of source code. I also chanced upon an idea around ‘authentication’ that I hope to develop into a patent soon. My internships offered me a world view of how enterprise security works.
India started witnessing a digital tsunami with banks, government agencies and social organisations using new tools to connect, engage and transact. The onset of the pandemic was further accelerating some of these changes. A whole new generation of young and old were taking to the internet with minimal training. This inspired me to start an online petition (using change.org platform) requesting the government to take a closer look at all the policy aspects of data privacy and digital hygiene. Over 500 signatures were obtained in less than a week’s time and the petition managed to get the attention of the Government of India. They agreed to put more resources into creating awareness around cybersecurity and publish a white paper.
I was appointed as the ‘digital brand ambassador’ by the Government of Telangana and DSCI (premier body advising the government on all security policy matters). This further deepened my confidence and passion around pursuing a career in computer science with specialisation in cybersecurity.
Need for policies
The fact that cyberattacks and cyber terrorism can bring nations and States to their knees highlight the enormous implications of not paying enough attention. The need to draft vibrant policy measures around data privacy is alluring.
When I reflect on my short eventful journey so far, the fact that cybersecurity cuts across so many facets of technology and life is what probably got me hooked. I have managed to sustain my deep interest in this subject for over five years now. I want to apply to the US colleges to do a BS followed by Ph.D. in this domain.
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