“I am enjoying wearing three different professional hats – Business Woman, Trainer & Counsellor and Cyber professional.”
(Cyber Psychologist & Psychotherapist)
“Hitting us on our sentiments, cybercriminals have mastered the art of deception using emotions”, says Nirali Bhatia. The growing influence of cyberbullying incidents is taking a serious hit on people and becoming a leading cause of anxiety, depression and even suicide. Spreading awareness about the dark side of the online world and cyberbullying, Nirali is the first Cyber & Counselling Psychologist in the country. She was also the part of popular MTV show, Troll Police, as an official therapist and on-set counsellor. The show was based on tracking the trolls of Bollywood personalities and unmasking their realities.
With the mission to combat the evil of cyberbullying, Nirali Bhatia creates awareness about cyber threats and their effects. She is the Founder of Cyber B.A.A.P, an acronym for “Cyber Bullying Awareness, Action and Prevention”.
For 2 consecutive years, the Cyber Psychologist has been bestowed with recognition as ‘India’s top Women Influencer in Cyber Security’.
In a conversation with The Global Hues, Nirali sheds light on the mysterious cyber world and discusses the importance of spreading awareness about the same.
Give us a glimpse of yourself and your journey as a Cyber Psychologist.
It has been a wonderful journey of two decades of being a Businesswoman, Trainer & Counsellor and Cyber professional, and is still on. I began my career by teaching how to make websites way back in 1997 and moved on to front-end development with V4WEB and soon led the young dynamic team of the company.
My keen interest in the human psyche led me to the next milestone of my career which was Usability (user behaviour) Analyst. Diving deeper into user behaviour study motivated me to take up my second master’s in Psychology which led me to the next milestone of my career in “Cyber Psychology”.
My shift to entering the cyber security domain was gradual. As IT professionals running a web services company, we kept receiving cases of cybercrimes, website hacking, and cybersquatting. Growing website attacks, data breaches, cybercrimes & harassment led us to establish “V4WEB Cybersecurity” to offer cybersecurity services & cybercrime investigations as our niche.
The next milestone of my career was founding an anti-cyberbullying organisation called Cyber B.A.A.P. which stands for Cyberbullying Awareness Action & Prevention as I was deeply concerned about the fact that there was very little or no information available on how to deal with growing cyber crimes & harassment. Cyber B.A.A.P. is a portal to educate users on cyber harassment & offer the victims much-needed guidance & counselling.
Cyber Psychology is still a new profession in India. What inspired you to pursue a career in the cyber domain?
Cyber Psychology is still a very new concept to take up as a professional. I am privileged to be the first Cyber Psychologist in the country. Being a mother of a teenager, I am also concerned about what my child is seeing on the internet.
The usage of the internet has grown in quite a few domains, be it education, entertainment, or gaming. Children are directly exposed to the online world. So, that’s all when the transition happened and I started using the knowledge in two main fields i.e., the research domain (why does this happen?) and Prevention – that’s when awareness and counselling work starts.
As a cyber expert, tell us the basic steps we can take to prevent ourselves from falling into the cyber attack trap.
First and foremost, we should be aware of cyber hygiene and follow cyber etiquette. Always be polite with everyone in the cyber world because in that space we can only perceive the message and hence you cannot really tell when your one comment or message hurt them.
The other thing is not to panic when you receive any message or warnings. Cybercriminals hit on our emotions and trick us when our logical reasoning abilities are off guard. They deliberately create panic so that a person falls into their trap by clicking on the link.
Why is it so hard to catch cybercriminals?
The anonymity has become a double-edged sword for us. Cybercriminals hide behind anonymity and commit fraud. These criminals are getting technically smart and well-equipped and that is also the reason they cannot be tracked. The tracking process is very long and time taking.
The other reason why it is so difficult to catch cybercriminals is that people are not reporting the incidents. There is a huge gap between cyber reporting and getting a resolution due to our law & order process which does not encourage the victim to report.
As a Cyber Psychologist and expert, I would like to humbly request people that if such things happen to you, come forward and report it. Your one step today may save someone else’s life.
What would your advice be for young cyber enthusiasts?
The Cyberworld is facilitating the real world, not replacing it. So do not forget to live in the real world. You can have a safe experience in cyberspace if you practise these 2 principles – “Practising the Pause” & “Zero trust”.