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Govt's hack-proof communication network ready to roll

Agencies, ministers and officials to use special devices designed to access the secure network with biometric authentication

Mansi Taneja  |  New Delhi 

The central government will soon unveil a secure information-sharing network for top government officials and agencies.

Now, the exchange of confidential information among officials and agencies will only happen through this network, which cannot be hacked or intercepted. State-run telecom operator MTNL will manage the network.

In the first phase, the secured dedicated communications network (SDCN) will be launched in Delhi with 5,000 lines connected through a fibre-optic network, according to a senior official in the ministry of communications and IT.

"After a successful launch of secured communication lines in Delhi, the network will be expanded across India. This will also mean phasing out of RAX (restricted access exchange) phones from the country, which are currently being used by ministers and bureaucrats for communication, but are prone to risks," an official in the IT ministry said.

New wireless devices will be provided to all the top government officials under SDCN, which they will use from their offices as well as homes.

India's cyber network is prone to various threats and the government is in the process of making a cyber security policy. This has been the top priority of Minister for Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad.

MTNL has also prepared a directory of ministers, bureaucrats, intelligence officials and various officials from other security agencies who will use this network. Wireless handsets have been developed by Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), a research firm under the department of telecommunications and every handset will have a unique number assigned to it. A biometric authentication system will be used to access the network.

Also, a centralised monitoring system (CMS) for interception and monitoring of telecom networks without intervention of telecom players will be operationalised soon. The research and development work for CMS has been completed and will be launched nationally soon. An internet monitoring system (IMS) is also being developed by CAIR to be deployed by C-DoT. The IMS will be integrated into CMS going forward.

All these steps are part of the government's strategy to make the country secure from cyber threats and enhance internal capabilities such as interception and encryption of data. Earlier this year, the government had approved setting up of a National Cyber Coordination Centre, which along with the intelligence agencies handle online threats related to the national security.

According to reports, over 700 government websites hosted under 'gov.in' and 'nic.in' domains have been hacked by cyber criminals since 2012. As per CERT-In, 371, 189, 155 and 13 government websites were hacked during 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (January), respectively.

First Published: Sun, August 16 2015. 22:48 IST
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