India is one of the key players in the digital and knowledge-based economy, holding more than a 50% share of the world’s outsourcing market.
Digital forte –
- Pioneering and technology-inspired programmes such as Aadhaar, MyGov, Government e-Market, DigiLocker, Bharat Net, Startup India, Skill India and Smart Cities are propelling India towards technological competence and transformation.
- India is already the third largest hub for technology-driven startups in the world and its Information and Communications Technology sector is estimated to reach the $225 billion landmark by 2020.
- Innovation in technology, enhanced connectivity, and increasing integration in commerce and governance also make India the fifth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of cybersecurity breaches, according to the Internal Security Threat Report of 2017 by Symantec.
- According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team’s report, there is a 23% increase in cybersecurity threats in 2017 as compared to 2014 figures.
India’s response –
The good news is that India recognises the threats. The second Global Cybersecurity Index, released by the International Telecommunication Union in July, which measured the commitment of nations to cybersecurity, found that India ranked 23 out of 165 nations.
Types of attacks –
- Ransomware attacks have been the most common in the last few years. The average mean ransom demand rose from $294 in 2015 to $1077 in 2016, according to Symantec.
- In India, in May 2017, a data breach at the food delivery App, Zomato, led to personal information of about 17 million users being stolen and put for sale on the Darknet. Same instances happened with Uber, where the company is left with the last resort to negotiate with the hackers at their terms.
- The attacks aren’t limited to mobile phones and e-Pads. All devices, including televisions that use Android, are also potentially vulnerable.
Taking action –
- Given the huge number of online users and continued efforts on affordable access, cybersecurity needs to be integrated in every aspect of policy and planning.
- The government is keen to fund cybersecurity research. It announced that it will award a grant worth ₹5 crore to startups working on innovations in the field of cybersecurity.
- India needs to quickly frame an appropriate and updated cybersecurity policy, create adequate infrastructure, and foster closer collaboration between all those involved to ensure a safe cyberspace.
There must be enhanced cooperation among nations to reaffirm a global call to action for all United Nations member nations to not attack the core of the Internet even when in a state of war. This also clearly emphasises the fact that more than ever before, there is a need for a Geneva-like Convention to agree on some high-level recommendations among nations to keep the Internet safe, open, universal and interoperable.
Ransomware is a type of software that threatens to publish a person’s data or block it unless a ransom is paid.