Saturday, October 4, 2014

India readies cyber commandos to thwart attacks in cyber space

At a time when is feeling the heat owing to growing number of cyber warriors globally, especially in neighboring countries like China, a flurry of activities are happening in the country both at the government level as well as private organizations.

The government has already started taking initiatives to set up a that would work towards preventing sabotage, espionage and cyber originating from within or outside the country. In January this year, Shivshankar Menon, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister had informed that the National Security Council is working out the final details for its implementation the architecture.

However, the biggest challenge for the success of the initiative is the shortage of cyber security experts, also known as cyber commandos.

Earlier this year, the University Grants Commission had sent a letter to the vice chancellors of all the technical universities to introduce cyber security and information security as subjects at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. While few of the universities have already initiated the process, it is taking time in the absence of any proven course curriculum.

In order to address the skill gaps and the demand of cyber warriors that India may require in the future, EC Council (International Council of E-Commerce Consultants), a provider of certifications and training on information security has now come out to cater to the future need. In association with its training partners in India, the US-based company is expecting to offer training to about 40,000 people on areas such as Ethical Hacking, Computer Hacking Forensics Investigation, Security Analysis and Penetration Testing.

“We already have fought two world wars. There is a belief that if a third world war is fought, then it is going to be controlled through computer network. Someone, if gets control over hospitals, weaponries and government departments can easily create havoc in any country. And that’s why there is a greater need of cyber warriors in any country today,” said Akash Agarwal, Country Manager of EC-Council in India.

Presently, few of the universities offer information security as a subject as a part of their Criminology Department. For example, the department of Criminology at the University of Madras offers courses on Information Security and Digital Forensic.

According to different estimates, there was a financial loss of around $390 billion globally last year because of cyber attacks and frauds. Presently, China is the most vulnerable country to cyber attacks with over 40% of the attacks targeted against the country followed by the United States.

India is said to be the eighth most vulnerable country in the world as far as cyber attacks are concerned. Even though estimates say India receives around 2.5% of the cyber attacks happen globally, the impact of those could be humongous considering the financial loss as well as loss of sensitive information.

“We need to understand from the fact that the dependence of the economy and the governance – whether it is banking, e-commerce, travel booking, electric transfers and payment systems – is becoming more and more. The moment you talk about growth in these areas, your first concern is whether the transactions are secure,” said Kamlesh Bajaj, CEO of Data Security Council (DSCI), a Nasscom initiative.

“So it is the trust level in all of these systems, that is critical and that trust will come from security,” he added.

In a report submitted to the Home Ministry and the National Security Council last year, DSCI had proposed the government to appoint a Cyber Security Coordinator at the national level. It had also underscored on the need of public private partnership to respond to the challenges thrown by cyber security.

India, according to various estimates, would require around 500,000 by 2015 to cater to the growing need for securing the cyber space.

Presently, China is estimated to have 25 million cyber commandos. Even a small country line North Korea is believed to have over 15,000 cyber warriors.

Even though there is a lack of any published figure, industry experts believe that India may be having about 2000 people who are capable of monitoring attacks and taking remedial measures, though it is more unorganised now.

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