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[CyberSecurity Awareness Series] The Other Side

The body did not move when touched. The police carefully placed the body on the floor after it was found hanging from the fan. There was a suicide note which gave detailed reasons as to why Siddharth (popularly known as Sid) had to take this extreme step. Sid’s mother was in a mental shock after reading the letter. She gave the letter to her husband who read it afterward. He could not believe what was written in that letter.

The police officials asked the parents if they had noticed any change in Sid’s behavior over the last month. Well, they could have answered it only if they spent time with him. Sid’s parents were working as senior managers in MNCs. They tried to spend time with him sometimes, but work pressures and delivery timelines always kept them busy. Well, at least they did not disappoint Sid with the gifts he wanted. This time too, Sid got what he had demanded. The police officials confirmed that they would investigate what was written in the letter, but everyone knew that “the other side” was like an infinite space and finding the person responsible for Sid’s death would be like finding a needle in an ocean.

Let’s Rewind

Salman understood the case after reading the letter and the discussion with the police officials. He was the best in his field and cybercrime was his specialty. Salman knew he had to rewind back 2 months to understand what drove Sid to take this step. The only thing that could help him solve this mystery was the only piece of evidence lying in front of him – Sid’s present.

Sid was a regular 10 years old kid. Just like any other kid of his age, he loved gadgets, social media, and spending time on his mobile phone. Yeah, this is the new regular for kids nowadays! Sid wanted an expensive present this time and he was after his parents to get that at the earliest. His parents had promised the high-end laptop the day his 5th class exams got finished.

Sid was excited to open the present he had been demanding for the last 2 months. The day had arrived. He went home and found his present neatly wrapped with a message from his parents. Sid was super excited to unwrap the present. His brand-new laptop was finally in front of him. He switched it on and logged in. He installed the latest game which everyone was talking about in the school. He opened the browser and typed in “The Bad Monkey” and got around 25,00,0000 results. He clicked on the second link which was offering the game for free.

Well, the game downloaded and installed itself. Sid clicked on the game icon and started playing. 

The Monkey was not bad

It was an everyday routine for Sid to play the game. He had in fact reached Round 2 after a lot of efforts. Today he had to clear Round 3. The moment he logged in, Sid got a pop-up message. The message was an enticing one, at least for the kid. The message read “Click here to skip Round 3 & 4 and enter Round 5.” Sid immediately clicked on it. What Sid saw was something he had never seen before. But he could not stop himself from looking at it.

Salman ran the forensic software on the laptop in front of him. The browser’s history and the IP addresses were key pieces of evidence that could at least help him locate the perpetrator’s location to some extent. He also dissected the game’s executable file and found that it had been tampered with. Well, the monkey was not bad, but yes the game was. The game was also a Trojan (a program that appears to be useful but contains malicious payloads) and redirected to the place where Salman was quite sure of.

Your secret is unsafe with me

Sid became addicted not to the game, but the website which had opened that day. He started visiting it regularly. Well, at this young age, you are not sure what is right or wrong. At first, it was not that bad, he kind of enjoyed the other side.

When Salman logged in he found that a beautiful young girl appeared on that website and asked him to enable the web camera so that she could just talk to him. It was a Bot, but it was so successfully created and fed with dialogues that it sounded extremely real. For a person of Sid’s age, this would have been extremely difficult to understand. Sid fell into the trap and did objectionable things while the webcam kept on recording him. He would not have imagined that the other side was recording him.

Salman found traces of webcam recordings where the other side threatened Sid to share his parent’s credit card details or else the recording would be sent to his friends. Sid would have gone to his parents to ask them for the details, only if they had the time to speak to him. Under stress, Sid decided to kill himself. Salman traced the IP to a remote server based in Wakanda, but there was not much he could do even after knowing what was the reason behind Sid’s suicide.

The Initiative

Sid’s story is no different. It can happen to us at any age. The Internet is such a vast ocean that it is easy for anyone to lose their way. But there are a number of ways, by which we can stop us and our kids from falling into such traps. Ensure that you browse the Internet safely. Teach yourself and your kids how to keep them cyber-safe.

Let’s build a #CyberSafeIndia & #StopCyberBullying.