“You can’t imagine the level of perversion in the misuse of social media,” says Dhanya Menon who knows the ins and outs of cybercrime in India better than anyone one of us. The first Indian woman cybercrime investigator, she surprisingly didn’t take up this unconventional career due to a passion for it.
Stumbled onto cybercrime while pursuing a stable income
People often find it really hard to believe that she was a Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam dancer from Thrissur; she just wanted a job that would contribute a stable income that she could use to fuel her passion for dance. What was “mere chance” later turned into her becoming an advocate for cyber safety among young people, parents and teachers. Never giving up on dance, she has performed on stage more than 200 times until today, showing that one can still pursue a passion with a full-time job. Though she had to take a hiatus from dance for a decade, she never gave up on it. Her years of experience in cybercrime have taught her that cyberspace is, in fact, a cruel and a dangerous space. With more than 200 complaints received each day from places like Pune, Mumbai, Kerala, Karnataka and other areas, she tackles tough cases like obscenity, pornography, visual morphing.
Though it was miserable at first she pressed on and overcame the hurdles
What put her on the map was the 2008 case of three schoolgirls in Kerala who committed suicide due to blackmail over mobile phone pictures which she undertook. Starting a consultancy firm for cybersecurity, Avanzo Cyber Security Solutions in 2010, the organisation provides all the necessary information and guidance that people need. She is also often hired by corporate companies and the government in cases that require much attention. Though the beginning of her career took a toll on her, saying, “Some of the cases used to be worse than any fiction I have ever read. They shocked me. I couldn’t believe that something like this could be true. The cases took a toll on me professionally and emotionally.” But after finding a way to overcome the hurdles, the rest is history.
Furiously campaigning for the safety of children and young people in cyberspace, she continues to educate them on the perils of the internet and how to navigate social media with much-needed wisdom.
Image credit: BankInfoSecurity