Ever since it won its independence from British Raj, there’s a lot that India has accomplished, despite facing its own set of struggles, conflicts and challenges. These accomplishments include, but aren’t limited to, a projected GDP growth rate of 7.2%, harboring the world’s third largest economy in terms of absolute GDP (PPP), and having positioned itself to reach a higher position on the world’s power index. And then there is its defence sector, which is a different beast altogether and one of modern India’s crowning achievements. We are home to the world’s second largest standing army, with more than a million active troops and a million reserve troops, the fifth largest Navy and the fourth largest Airforce in the world. After reading about its defence prowess, one can’t be faulted for assuming that India’s got all of its defence strategies in place, and for the most part it has, except for one avenue that requires more investment – Cyber Security.
As you must have recalled reading in my previous post, I had stressed on the vital need, undeniable importance and integral necessity fora strong and powerful cyber security framework in today’s day and age of rapid technological advancements. While there’s no denying that India has done enough to be globally acknowledged as an Information Technology superpower, it still has a lot to do vis-à-vis enhancing its cyber security. For instance, the United Nations classified India as still being a maturing nation in a global index that ranked all countries on the strength of their cyber security, indicating that there’s still a long way to go before it can rest on its laurels. Additionally, according to Symantec’s 2017 Internet Cyber Security Threat Report, India was ranked as the fifth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of potential cyber security breaches. That most cases of data breaches in India are often underreported (owing to the absence of mandatory legal requirements) only makes matters worse.
One has to be living under a rock to not understand just how vulnerable a nation can be to cyber-attacks if it doesn’t undertake adequate measures to safeguard itself. We’ve seen what happens when nations end up taking their cyber security for granted – be it the US election that was swung and influenced after an attack on the DNC in favour of the Republican candidate, or the WannaCry ransomware attack which infected more than two hundred thousand computers across the world and ended up encrypting valuable data, taking cyber security for granted can have dire consequences.
In fact, just as recentlyas a few days ago, a digital security-company published a report where it identified a sustained cyber spying campaign against India that has been underway since October 2016. According to this digital security company, the attackers have been using decoy documents (including reports from the Hindu and Reuters) related to security issues, like the Indian military and Kashmir, to install the virus. Once installed, the virus allows spies to download files, log keystones and steal personal data. Hacking is no longer a hobby practiced by college kids when they’re feeling adventurous, it’s now become a booming business, a robust industry that is here to stay. The new breed of cyber-attacks in the last few months is proof of that and serves as a grim reminder that, if left unchecked, these attacks will only get more dangerous.
Fortunately for us all, the Indian Government has been taking steps to ensure India’s cyber security remains a priority. The setting up of the National Cyber Coordination Centre has been incredibly promising in this regard, as has been the creation of the Cyber Operation Centre and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC). Additionally, during PM Modi’s visit to Israel, the two nations issued a joint statement where they committed to promote security and stability in cyberspace. India is also looking forward to replicating Israel’s commendable success in incubating the world’s most sought-after startups in cyber security. Keeping all this is mind, an Indo-Israel cyber partnership can be instrumental for India to secure its cyberspace infrastructure and combat terrorism. Finally, India’s intention to prioritize cyberspace stability can best be seen in its engagement with the UN Group on Governmental Experts (UNGGE), as well as its bilateral dealings with Russia (an extensive cyber agreement was singed on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit) and the US (a framework agreement was recently signed), respectively.
In conclusion, while there’s no denying that India is not taking its cyber security for granted, the challenges we continue to face on this front are greater than ever and, as such, there’s still more work that needs to be done. After all, as technological advancements make the threat of cyber-attacks one that is constantly evolving, India needs to continue boosting its cyber security to match it.
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