Over 22,000 Indian websites, including 114 government portals were hacked between April 2017 and January 2018, Parliament was informed.
“As per information reported to and tracked by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a total of 22,207 Indian websites including 114 government websites were hacked during April 2017 to January 2018. A total number of 493 affected websites were used for malware propagation,” Minister of State for Electronics and IT K J Alphons said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.
Besides, as per the information reported to and tracked by National Informatics Centre (NIC), a total number of 74 and six government websites hosted on NICNET were hacked during 2017 and 2018 (till February), respectively, he added. The minister said 301 security alerts regarding potential vulnerabilities and threats to multiple systems and applications were issued by CERT-In during April 2017-January 2018. In addition, various tailored alerts were sent to key organisations to enable them to detect and prevent cyber attacks.
In response to a separate query, Alphons said all the new government websites and applications are to be audited with respect to cyber security prior to their hosting along with audit on a regular basis after hosting. “Organisations use servers to host websites and applications for dissemination of information and providing services to users. The servers not configured properly and having vulnerable software are prone to hacking and could be misused by cyber criminals,” he said.
He added that continuous efforts are required to be made by owners to protect servers by way of hardening and deploying appropriate security controls. To a question on whether fake news had pervaded all spheres of life and had led to serious repercussions, Alphons said the government does not maintain specific information on people booked in isolated incidents for circulation of fake news on messaging and social media platforms.
Alphons, in response to another question, said in order to work towards strategic interventions to promote artificial intelligence applications, the government has set up four committees of experts from academia, industry and government. These committees will look into areas like platforms and data for AI, leveraging AI for identifying national missions in key sectors, skilling and re-skilling, and cybersecurity, safety, legal and ethical issues. The minister noted that the investment in STPI (Software Technology Parks of India) units in 2016-17 stood at Rs 14,099 crore, while that in IT/ITeS units in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) was at Rs 1,36,781 crore.