Why India needs a strong cybersecurity policy soon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reiterated that the government will soon unveil a new cybersecurity policy.

During his speech from the Red Fort on the 74th Independence Day, Modi said that India is alert, cautious and is taking decisions to counter cyber threats and is constantly developing new systems.

The draft of National Cyber Security Strategy 2020, which envisages creating secure cyberspace in India, is ready and is likely to be finalized this year.

“The threats from cyberspace can endanger all these aspects of Indian life. The government is alert to this threat and is taking all the necessary action,” Modi said.

The government recently banned several Chinese apps to protect the personal data of Indian users.

As nation-state bad actors from countries like China, Russia and Pakistan amid the demand to keep the data of Indians to remain within the boundaries of the country, the government has envisioned the “National Cyber Security Strategy 2020”.

“Cyber intrusions and attacks have increased in scope and sophistication targeting sensitive personal and business data, and critical information infrastructure, with impact on national economy and security. The present cyber threat landscape poses significant challenges due to rapid technological developments such as Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, lnternet of Things, 5G, etc,” according to the draft.

“New challenges include data protection/privacy, law enforcement in evolving cyberspace, access to data stored overseas, misuse of social media platforms, international cooperation on cybercrime & cyber terrorism, and so on”.

Digitization in India will dramatically rise in a post-COVID-19 scenario which in turn will increase demand for greater cybersecurity and privacy, according to experts.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, as businesses are still coping up, cybersecurity is being seen as a core technology to keep companies secure as they go online and virtual, and as emerging deep tech such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain evolves, investment in cybersecurity will be a key differentiator for companies offering such services.

“We have joined hands with DSCI (the Data Security Council of India) in establishing a National Centre of Excellence to accelerate innovation and make India an attractive cybersecurity market,” Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), said recently.

Ransomware-related cyber attacks on the Indian enterprises saw a significant rise in the first three months of the year, and the increase has been enabled by operators offering ransomware as a service (RaaS) to cyber attackers.

The report from Global cybersecurity major K7 Computing also found that Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad recorded the highest rate of infections amongst Tier-I cities.

Guwahati, Jaipur and Jammu had the highest infection rate of 38 percent each, followed by Patna at 35 percent among Tier-II cities.

One in two Indian companies have experienced a data breach involving the loss or theft of more than 1,000 records containing sensitive or confidential customer or business information in the past two years and the Covid-19 has only accelerated the cyberattacks, according to Sandip Patel, General Manager, IBM India/South Asia.

For 46 percent of Indian firms, data breaches led to significant disruption to their IT and business processes, according to a recent global survey conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security.