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Govt’s proactive strategies to counter cyber threats

BusinessGovt’s proactive strategies to counter cyber threats

India, the world’s largest democracy is now also the largest digital democracy with over 830 million connected Internet users. With relentless push from Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government, the efforts to move India to a less cash economy that transacts, communicates and engages digitally has become a reality. If we look a decade back, we were nowhere close to even imagining that India and Bharat will be collaboratively digitally engaging and transacting till the last mile. The Digital Public Infrastructure created by the government and the emerging start-up story also had their role to play in this access and adoption.

While the increasing adoption of digitization has given comfort to citizens and provided them with the ease to engage and transact, yet there are those desirous of wanting to exploit or hurt this ease. Such efforts have been on the rise through Cyber-attacks, some of whom are State-Sponsored actors across borders apart from the local criminal and rogue elements. These attacks are aimed almost every second focused at bringing down India’s critical infrastructure from telecom, banks, power, hospitals to governmental and private sector establishments and more importantly to create mistrust through loot, ransom and chaos.

However, it is heartening to note that India is rising to the occasion and taking steps in this regard. The Cyber Safe India initiative taken up by Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah has become one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C) that emerged out of the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre scheme, approved on 5th October 2018 was formally launched on 10th January 2020.

I4C to its credit has already saved over Rs.1200 crore and has handled close to 5 lakh complaints across India. I4C has also been striving to build capacity within the country in its ability to tackle cybercrime besides building coordination amongst various Law Enforcement Agencies and stakeholders. I4C was also instrumental in the launch of the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) that has already been used 14 crore times with more than 31 lakh cybercrime complaints, 66000 FIRs across States and UTs. Through the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) more than 12.30 crore requests have been disposed of.

Another noteworthy initiative has been the National Automated Finger-Print Identification System (NAFIS) by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which has aided the fingerprint recognition system that helped identify intra and interstate criminals, thereby aiding the efforts of I4C. The setting up of the National Cybercrime Helpline number- 1930 has also been a boon and beacon of hope for many who have been victims of digital and online financial frauds.

The prevention mechanism used by I4C ensures blocking of communication and financial infrastructure used by criminals and helps in identification and blocking of SIM cards, IMEI Devices, Bank Accounts, UPI IDs besides apps, websites etc. I4C was also instrumental in starting Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform called ‘CyTrain’ aimed at building capacity for Police officers. Government officials too have been covered through “Stay Safe in CyberSpace” course on the IGOT Karmayogi platform.

The National Cyber Forensic Laboratory (NCFL) aids investigations relating to cyber incidents. Since such crimes transcend state borders, I4C has also set up Joint Cyber Crime Coordination Teams (JCCTs) for better inter-State coordination. Under I4C, their National Cybercrime Ecosystem Management Unit adopts a “Whole of Government Approach ‘’ for awareness in cyber hygiene. The social media handle aptly named “CyberDost’’ provides safety tips on various social media platforms. There is also an initiative by MHA called “Cyber Jagrookta Diwas” to be undertaken on the first Wednesday of every month at 11 am by States/UTs and Schools, Colleges.

It is also important to note that the Home Minister had flagged off the Cyber Volunteers Squad from Premier Educational Institutions of India during the G20 Conference on “Crime and Security in the age of NFTs, AI and Metaverse” held at Gurugram. The I4C initiative bolsters PM Modi’s call for a Viksit Bharat and more importantly the need for a Digitally Secure India. It is also heartening to note that there exists a nationwide cybercrime prevention apparatus under the watch of the Union Ministry of Home whose job is to prevent, mitigate and attend to the crimes of the future which are largely and likely to take place in the digital world.

India’s tryst with cybersecurity holds tremendous importance at a time when the nation is propelling itself to become one of the top three largest economies. As PM Modi said in one of his speeches, “Cyber security is no longer confined to the digital world only.

It has become a subject of national security – global security.” Home Minister Amit Shah has maintained that it is essential to enhance the capabilities of nations and international organizations to deal with new and emerging, traditional and non-traditional challenges, including terrorism, terror financing, radicalization, narco, narco-terror links, and misinformation in a better way.

The three new criminal laws initiated by the Home Minister also aim to seal the legal loopholes used by cybercriminals to escape the law. While more needs to be done, kudos to the government for having been proactive in this area and in its efforts for ensuring a “Digitally Secure India.”

The Author is CEO

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