The Centre is fast realising the need to address the increasing number of cyber attacks targeted against India. While a proposal to develop national cyber security architecture is believed to be awaiting the last round of approvals, the government is also taking steps to train cyber security experts.
In January, the University Grants Commission had asked the vice-chancellors of technical universities and institutions in the country to introduce cyber security and information security as subjects at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Sources in the know say many universities are developing the course curriculum for these.
Private training organisations are also providing training in these areas. For instance, EC Council, a US-based provider of training and certifications in information security and ethical hacking, has partnered various training institutions to train students in India.
According to estimates, by 2015, India would require about 5,00,000 cyber security experts to cater to the growing need to secure cyber space. While China is estimated to have 25 million cyber commandos, the number of cyber soldiers in North Korea is pegged at 15,000. (Emerging Indian sites On Cyber Attackers'Radar)
India is said to be the eighth-most vulnerable country in the world, in terms of cyber attacks. According to government data, in the last five years, 774 government websites were hacked. The attacks appeared to have emanated from Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. According to data available with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, the defacement of Indian websites has almost tripled compared to 2007.
"We need to understand the fact that the dependence of the economy and governance in banking, e-commerce, travel booking, electric transfers and payment systems, is growing. The moment you talk about growth in these areas, your first concern is whether the transactions are secure," said Kamlesh Bajaj, chief executive of Data Security Council of India (DSCI), a Nasscom initiative. "So, the trust level in these systems is critical and that trust would come from security," he added.
According to estimates, last year, cyber attacks and frauds led to a loss of about $390 billion around the world. China is the most vulnerable to cyber attacks, with about 40 per cent of all attacks targeted against that country. The US is second. "There is a fear that if a third world war is fought, it would be controlled through computer network," said Akash Agarwal, country manager of EC-Council, India.
In a report to the home ministry and the National Security Council last year, DSCI had proposed the government appoint a cyber security coordinator at the national level. It had also stressed the need of public-private partnerships to respond to cyber attacks.