Alisha Gurung

Alisha Gurung
System Engineer

After completing B.Tech in Information Technology, I joined TashiCell as a System Engineer. My job profile remained the same when I joined Bhutan Telecom in 2016. One of the main responsibilities was to ensure proper functioning of DNS (Domain Name System- Similar to a phone book that also makes the Internet work). I have been heavily dependent on the Internet to get a lot of work done. Apart from that, I have also taken keen interest in Security as it’s one of the global growing concerns. I have been able to build my competency through various Internet based events (workshop, conference) like btNOG, APRICOT, SANOG, APNIC, APRIGF, IETF and so on. After 10 years in the industry, I must admit that Digital Platform has contributed to my career in various ways. With any form of Internet connectivity, I can get most of my work done from anywhere in the world. Understanding and solving issues related to customers can be done without the customer visiting our office. With the help of Automation, I take less time to get my work done which otherwise would take hours.

Even though the Internet has been in Bhutan Since 1999, Cyber Security is pretty much new to Bhutan unlike other countries. Because nothing really bad has happened so far in Bhutan concerning cyber security, people are pretty much laid back assuming that they are safe. People do not understand that the more they expose their information online, the more they are vulnerable to cyber threats. This also applies at an organizational level. With more and more services becoming online, the attack surface also increases and without proper advocacy related to cyber security and measures in place, it will be difficult to combat cyber threats. Consequences of such threats could be catastrophic to an individual, organization and country as a whole.

We see a lot of younger generations hooked on to the internet. Social media requires an individual to attain a certain age for them to have an account but we see a lot of them already with an account. This only leads to more cyber bullying, online sexual harassment and more. This issue is not only evident in the younger generation but also among women and other adults who lack digital literacy.

Over the past decade, we have seen tremendous technological advancement. Digital literacy requires constant reading and updating oneself about technology trends which I feel is missing in the Bhutanese society. Though there are learning platforms to enhance our knowledge and skills, it requires an individual to take self initiative and interest which I feel is missing possibly due to lack of interest or information about such platforms. Technology and its potential is the same for both men and women. However, safety doesn’t seem to be the same for both. Impact of identity theft could be more devastating to a man than a woman. Women face more online sexual harassment than men. So how do we tackle this?

Digital literacy should be a mandated program in all schools and organizations. Cyber Security awareness programs must be a part of an organization & school curriculum. Parental control should be implemented wherever possible to understand the user behavior and take actions/precautions. At an organizational level, a woman should not be undermined and should be given equal opportunity. Globally it’s often sad to see that men are preferred over women just because a woman might not be able to work during her maternity period or because of the difference in physique. But I feel fortunate to work for an organization which provides equal opportunities to every employee irrespective of their gender.

There is no difference between a man and woman when it comes to online platforms or any technology.  It’s a shared responsibility of all the Bhutanese to create a clean cyberspace for the citizens of the country. We must end the digital divide at all costs. We must help change the mindset of our people when it comes to gender equality. Last but not the least; a woman should support another woman in all aspects and instead of tearing her down. Let’s empower each other.

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