Even as the Digital India campaign brings about a massive transformation, one cannot ignore the new vulnerabilities and security challenges that it may create
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India campaign is arguably one of the most prodigious programs undertaken by the Indian Government in a long time. With a vision to use technology to take the nation forward and streamline governance including access to public services, the government is all set to give a tremendous boost to the technical infrastructure of the country. The project aims at setting up of ICT infrastructure like on demand access to services like education etc, high speed internet at the Gram Panchayat level and digital empowerment.
The Digital India campaign is in line with the various other IT programs that the government has been taking up. IT spending by the government has increased due to the implementation of various e-governance projects across departments at the central and state level. The government is also embracing and supporting technology startups and has recently allocated Rs 10,000 crore for their development.
With the Indian government focusing in such a big way on digitizing the entire nation, industry pundits believe that this could be bring about a major transformation in the country’s overall socio-economic structure. Currently, the internet penetration in villages is at 8.6 percent, compared to 37.4 percent in urban areas. This statistic is something that the Digital India program aims to change. According to the World Bank report, a country sees 1.38 percent rise in its gross domestic product with a 10 percent increase in its broadband connections.
However, even as the Digital India campaign brings about a massive transformation, one cannot rule out the fact increased connectivity would give way to a plethora of new vulnerabilities and security challenges. Incidents in the past have shown that our nation severely lags behind when it comes to cyber security. Going by the records of National crime Records Bureau, a total of 1,791 cases were registered in 2011, which grew to 2,876 cases in 2012 and to 4,356 cases in 2013. Hacking formed a major 60 percent chunk of all cyber offences.
Cybercrimes in India have been significantly rising and our government continues to struggle with the attacks. According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) around 13,000 incidents of web security breach occurred in 2011.This number grew to 22,060 in 2012. In fact, the combined hacking attempts on Indian websites for the year 2011, 2012, and 2013 were 308,371, out of which 78 were government sites with reports of spam, malware infection and system break-ins. Not only does India need to worry about domestic cyber-attacks but it also needs to safeguard against attacks originating from countries like Pakistan, China, UAE, US, Turkey, Brazil, Bangladesh, Algeria and European nations.
With the rising number of security challenges it gets extremely essential to use secure applications and portals. It is important for a nation to safeguard the privacy of its citizens and with the huge amount of data stored in government’s IT systems, having a strong security mechanism as well as an excellent software usage is extremely essential. Not only would this actively safeguard the government IT infrastructure, but it would also instill trust amongst all the stakeholders as well as the citizens.
In order to mitigate the ever increasing cyber crimes, a sum of Rs 800 crore has been allocated by the government to set up a center that will assist people to check and clean computer systems from viruses and other malware. The aim here is to come up with a facility that can not only track the viruses in the system but also remove them.
The National Cyber Security and Coordination Centre (NCSC) will analyze Internet traffic data scanned and integrated from various gateway routers at a centralized location. It will facilitate real-time assessment of cyber-security threats and generate actionable reports for various agencies. As a multi-agency body under the Department of Electronics and IT, the NCSC will include the National Security Council Secretariat, the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), the three armed forces and the Department of Telecommunications. It is expected to subsume the work done by CERT-In as well as issue alerts in the event of a cyber-attack.
The government is undoubtedly doing a great job by coming up with initiatives like ‘Digital India’ that can really boost the growth of our nation. In order to ensure the success that such initiatives deserve, the government also needs to take collaborative measures across departments and ensure proper e-governance. We also need strong e-security to make e-governance a success. Cyber security in India is still an issue that needs to be taken seriously.PM Modi may have to take firm measures to ensure the success of digital India such as proper implementation of the National Cyber Security Policy.
Ashok Kumar, MD and CEO- RAH Infotech