Cyber Security and Digital Wellbeing
Everyone is exposed to cyber threats as almost all data, information and activities are now digitally accessible in cyberspace. Although the availability in some respects is beneficial, technological progress can lead to vulnerabilities in human civilisation. Apart from financial loss, it also can affect privacy, moral and health issues. Technological advancements should work in tandem with religious awareness in safeguarding mankind from the harms of cyberspace activities.
The technology quotient represents the ability of mankind to adapt to and integrate technology in life effectively. Nevertheless, religious consciousness is crucial in addressing and guiding users and developers operate the internet ethically. Technology alone leaves the user in social and ethical isolation as being technology, it has no moral and ethical dimensions, but rather just plain communication, computation, information, data, and storage. It is in need of human values for it to be so-called “alive” and “blessed” by the Almighty. Without the human touch, it will be purely mundane, temporal and secular.
In reality, technological developments take place on a daily basis. As reported recently, internet users climbed to 4.95 billion in early 2022 with the internet penetration at 62.5 per cent of the world’s population. Everybody now can connect with friends and family, or do banking, playing, socialising, shopping, or even running home from wherever we are.
Nearly anyone with internet connection will be the target of cybercrime at some point. In an August 2022 report, crimes in Malaysia alone that involve illegal activities done on data, information, and the internet such as impersonation fraud calls, e-commerce crime, and financial fraud increased with a loss of RM311.9 million in total.
The potential cyber harm is not only on financial security, but also to privacy as well. Many businesses collect data or compile customer information for various reasons. Some parties such as internet service providers and others, often sell our data to third parties such as advertising companies and the like, even without our consent. They are fully aware of breaching the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA), but still do it for the sake of money gains and profits from the sale of the information. Among the useful data sold to third parties are personal, engagement, behavioural, and attitudinal data.
On moral issues, especially in the social media space, the invention of the “like” button has brought about psychosis as users crave for likes and views. The behaviour of seeking attention and credit from others is not only immoral, but showing off or being ostentatious is against the teachings of Islam. Islam always enjoins humility. “He who wants to publicise (his deeds), Allah will publicise his humility, and he who makes a hypocritical display (of his deeds), Allah will make a display of him” (narrated in Sahih Muslim). The Messenger S.A.W also said: “Allah, the Most High has revealed to me that you (people) should be humble, so that no one transgresses another, or boasts to the other” (narrated by Muslim). In one of the Prophetic traditions, narrated on the authority of Sulaiman bin Yasar, Abu Hurairah said that the Messenger of Allah S.A.W warned against pretension and showing-off, good deeds alone are not enough to guarantee a person’s entry into paradise. No virtue will be accepted by Allah without sincerity, no matter how great it may be. (Sahih Muslim)
There has been potentially detrimental attitude in our society, shifting from intelligent-minded towards sensational-minded or attention-seekers attitude. Netizens should be inspired to attract more intellectual content, knowledge-based and moral value, rather than craving for mere attention. The reality is that the dark side of technology brings more harm to human intelligence.
Similarly for online gaming addiction, many studies have highlighted that it caused physical and mental illnesses such as insomnia, fatigue, low metabolism system, dehydration, eye constraint, visual impairment, muscular weakness, obesity, and bad posture. Mobile online gaming has become popular amongst secondary school students and young adults, especially with the invention of the e-sport and online competition and communities. Parents are facing difficulties in managing game addiction among their children. School is in a dilemma as to whether to allow mobile phones for communication and emergency purposes or risk students spending long hours playing games. A recent study shows that the majority of parents disagree with the idea of giving mobile phone to their children as it will distract their attention from studying or even homework.
The family unit followed by school, community and religious bodies are duty bound to educate netizens. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and related agencies should plan for strategic cyber management and surveillance, for example, by introducing a gaming rating imitating the control done by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the film industry by categorising audiences for U (suitable for public), P13 (under 13 years old with parental control), 18 (18 years old and above, with categorisation of 18SG, 18SX, 18PA and 18PL).
While technology developments should be welcomed, some reservations and abstention should be exercised from unlawful activities, whether from the perspective of law or religious viewpoint. Indeed, technology, the cyber and digital worlds can be embraced, but they must be coupled with religious conscience, particularly piety (taqwa).