The government has created a fat budget of Rs 1,000 crore to bolster the country's cyber perimeter. This goes well with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's agenda to push all round use of technology.
The department of electronics and information technology will soon go to the Cabinet seeking approval for three projects that will enhance the government's ability to fight cyber attacks.
The most significant among the three projects is the creation of a National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) at a cost of Rs 800 crore. The other two projects will strengthen the government's email system and create a botnet clearing centre.
The NCCC is meant to watch the traffic flowing through the country's Internet pipes, which will help in mitigating or warding off domestic or international attacks on its infrastructure. The project, initiated by the previous United Progressive Alliance government, has been controversial. But officials claim that the NCCC is not meant to snoop on people by accessing content.
It will come up in a year's time. In an interview to Business Standard last week, Telecommunications and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was quite alive to the fact that investments in cyber security needed to go up in line with digitisation in the country.
"We are going to beef up our investment in cyber security. And we will very soon go to the Cabinet with that. Security is very important and we are insisting on it at the international level," he had said.
After the government announced two major projects on financial inclusion and digitisation, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Digital India, an unprecedented spike in online transactions is expected. As more people are exposed to technology when they avail government services online, conduct financial transactions through mobile phones, or simply surf the internet using Wi-Fi at colleges, the risks are also expected to go up manifold.
The idea of the NCCC is to keep a check on malicious activities, especially in sensitive government organisations. Currently, most cyber attacks go unreported in the country. Moreover, any action is post facto. The NCCC will arm the government with advance alerts based on trends such as spikes in data, virus and botnets from a particular area.
Also on the cards is a botnet cleaning centre at the cost of around Rs 100 crore. The botnet - short for ro'bot' - installs itself on unsuspecting computers and is driven by a remote command and control centre. It generates spam from the systems of users who might not even suspect its presence.
India has emerged as one of the top 10 sources of bot-nets in the world and the proposed centre will keep sucking information to know where the majority of the viruses are coming from and help in disinfecting those systems.
The project to expand the government's email capacity is also likely to be cleared soon. The intention is to make government email more secure by increasing encryption. This assumes importance because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pushing for increased use of technology in the government's day-to-day functioning.