The government has found 96 websites to be susceptible to cyber attacks and warned staff across departments and states using the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to not open these portals. The names of the websites have not been disclosed. Steps have been taken to strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure. A special Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has been created to monitor traffic on NIC’s network and mitigate threats. A senior official in the ministry of communications and information technology said the team would inform the various departments in case of any threats. NIC, established in 1976, takes care of the digital infrastructure of the Centre, states, Union Territories and 688 district administrations. The setting up of separate CERT for NIC is part of the MeitY’s effort to have a dedicated cybersecurity centre for government departments. A separate CERT would be created for finance, power and other critical units. The official said around 20 per cent of computers running on the NIC network have also been identified as high risk. The NIC network has over one million computers across the country. To get international cooperation in cybersecurity, the government has bilateral agreements with 11 countries, including USA, the UK, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Speaking at the launch of NIC-CERT, MeitY minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Centre and states should work together to secure the digital infrastructure of the country.
The minister said in the recent past there has been an exponential growth in cyber attacks, leading to concerns about data theft. This led to the drafting of the Data protection Act.“As internet, with its ever-expanding canvas of opportunities, is touching the life of people, it necessitates the requirement to upscale the security infrastructure,” Prasad said. The NIC-CERT, he said, has been set up with the objective of creating a comprehensive framework that integrates world-class security components and inbuilt threat intelligence for detection, prevention and incident response. “The team will correlate events that would help in generating a canvas of the attack surface and identify the vulnerabilities and possible exploits. The gathered intelligence assimilated with the knowledge of the open web would give the CERT the ability to prevent and predict attacks.” The NIC-CERT will have a team of 30 cybersecurity professionals monitoring the network round-the-clock. The professionals will be supported by over 350 CERT staff. NIC has pan-India connectivity and the reach is one of its key strengths. This, coupled with its enhanced ability to detect and prevent attacks, would collectively upscale the government’s ability to protect its data.