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Cyber threat: Plans afoot to protect vital networks

A NCIIPC is in the process of being set up to create a fool-proof firewall around these networks

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
June 13, 2013 2:34:21 am

A steep rise in the number of cyber attacks on Indian computer networks in the last three years has forced the government to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to secure its strategic data-centres,and deal with emergency situations.

From just about 10 incidents in January 2005,the number of cyber attacks went up to over 20,000 last year. Incidents of defacement of websites hosted on Indian servers increased from about 4,700 in 2005 to over 23,000 last year. Similarly,virus-related attacks increased from less than 100 in 2005 to over 3000 last year.

A sudden spike in these incidents was noticed in 2009,around the same time that 3G services were introduced in India and the number of Internet users expanded exponentially,mainly through the use of smart-phones. India now is the second most-spammed country in the world.

The government has identified a list of critical computer infrastructure which need special protection against cyber attacks. Included in this list are networks related to national security,defence,banks,stock markets,power grids,railways and airlines,weather and many others. A National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) is in the process of being set up to create a fool-proof firewall around these networks.

The creation of NCIIPC is just one of the many ideas being implemented as part of the Framework for Cyber Security that was recently approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security. A multi-agency National Cyber Coordination Centre to make assessment of cyber threats and share information with stakeholders is also being set up. A Centre of Excellence in Cryptology,the science of encrypting data,is being established at the Indian Institute of Statistics in Kolkata.

The effort is to prevent and mitigate the threats to computer networks from hackers targeting India. Attacks on Indian networks have come mainly from computers based in 20 countries including the US,UK,Germany,France,Brazil,Poland and the Netherlands. One such attempt tried to jeopardise the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010. Hackers had tried to get into the computer systems to tamper with the timers and scoring machines.

Last year,the government had come up with a ‘roadmap on cyber security’,that had stressed on collaboration between the government and private sector in this area. As a follow-up to that,the government has set up three cyber-forensic laboratories in Banglalore,Pune and Kolkata in association with software industry group NASSCOM. Nine more such laboratories are planned in partnership with state governments.

A cyber crisis management plan has already been put in place,with state governments as an integral part. CERT-In,or Computer Emergency Response Team (India),the nodal agency to deal with such crisis is being replicated on a smaller scale for specific sectors. The defence establishment has already set up a sectoral CERT for itself. Railways and the power sector are also planning to have a CERT of their own.

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