Cyber security in India has not received the attention of Indian policymakers. The next time you surf the internet, you might be just one click away from becoming the next cyber crime victim.
Tapas Majumdar, a Guwahati-based businessman opened a bank account in a private bank. When the bank personnel tried to convince him about the benefits of online banking, he asked, “Where is the security?” He was well-known about the fact that China-based hackers had penetrated and retrieved major information from the computers of government departments in India. Has our government taken any proactive measures to strengthen the security infrastructure and legal mechanism to secure online transactions, network systems? The answer is probably no.
Unfortunately, cyber security in India has not received the attention of Indian policymakers. The next time you surf the internet, you might be just one click away from becoming the next cyber crime victim, warns a new study from security software-maker Norton as Indians are the worst victims of cyber crime after China. Two-third (65 per cent) of internet users globally and over three-quarters of Indian (76 per cent) web surfers have fallen victim to cyber crimes, including computer viruses, online hacking, online harassment and stalking, online credit card fraud and identity theft. Cyber crime in the context of national security may involve hacktivism, traditional espionage, or information warfare and related activities.
Symantec’s State of Enterprise Security Survey 2010, in fact, revealed that 42 per cent of Indian enterprises rate cyber security their top issue, more than terrorism, natural disasters and traditional crime combined. This is unsurprising, since 66 per cent of Indian enterprises witnessed cyber attacks in 2009, with one in two respondents also reporting that cyber attacks have stayed the same or grown in 2009. Highlighting the importance of security service, Joydeep Chowdhury, Director, Panorama Electronics Pvt Ltd said, “I believe that protection from internal and external threats in the form of either physical or cyber is very important for any organisation.” His organisation is a provider of a mixed bag item in different parts of eastern India. There have been cases of vendors stealing clients’ data and selling it or even setting up their own companies using the stolen data. Malware spam, Nigerian spam, etc are bombarding the networks with greater force and sophistication. With online trading and banking becoming necessary instruments in enhancing organisational efficiencies, cyber crimes are also on the rise.
Once victimised, solving a cyber crime would take around 44 days and cost Rs 5,262 in India, in comparison to 28 days and USD 334 (Rs 15,700) elsewhere in the world, a Norton cyber crime survey states. It can be observed that the developing nations are worst victims of cyber crimes. China’s rank is number one in the global cyber crime list. According to FBI, the revenues from cyber crime were USD 1 trillion or Rs 45 lakh crore annually. It exceeded drug trafficking as the most lucrative illegal global business. Though there was no figure on this from the FBI, it was estimated that annual revenues from the drug trade were about USD 400 billion. Any organisation, whether industry or factory, commercial firms, banks, stores, warehouses, institutions, even your business, can be the victim of cyber crime that accounts for nearly 10-20 per cent of the total income of the company annually.
Despite the emotional burden, the universal threat and incidents of cyber crime, people are not changing their behaviour. Around 60 per cent of adults in India have changed their behaviour, if they became a victim. “Although cyber crime makes Indians feel angry (58 per cent), cheated (51 per cent) and upset (46 per cent), surprisingly, many are not willing to report it to the police, whereas globally 44 per cent would call the police. Instead, 59 per cent of cyber crime victims in India would resort to changing their online behaviour, 53 per cent would restrict the websites visited, 46 per cent would call their bank and just 37 per cent would call the police,” said Effendy Ibrahim, Internet Safety Advocate, Asia, Symantec Corporation.
Cyber terrorism is the next big form of terrorism that India is likely to face. National Cyber Security of India has issued numerous warnings on cyber attacks from time to time as the first sign of tech-savvy terrorists came to light during the serial blasts that rocked our country in 2009.
The Indian government has taken several measures to detect and prevent cyber attacks/espionage. As per existing computer security guidelines issued by the government, no sensitive information is to be stored on the systems that are connected to internet. The government has also formulated a Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism for implementation by all ministries/departments of central government, state governments and their organisations and critical sectors. Ministries and departments have been further advised to carry out their IT systems audit regularly to ensure robustness of their systems. National Informatics Centre (NIC) is continuously strengthening the security of the network operated by them and its services by enforcing security policies, conducting regular security audits and deploying various technologies at different levels of the network to defend against the newer techniques being adopted by the hackers from time to time.
And what is the solution in business? “There is a need for security all the time. In my office all the computers are protected by password, so that if anybody enters into our systems will not be able to get the proper file,” Chowdhury stated. According to him, it is a constant effort to ensure that the system is running smoothly.
By Samarpita Roy