Indian Deputy NSA Calls for Coordinated Approach to Deal with Cyber Security

India's Deputy National Security Advisor Latha Reddy has called for increasing co-operation among government agencies as well between the government and private companies to deal with the increasing threats posed by cyber attacks.

Reddy warned that cyber security threats could potentially destabilize the country and create internal chaos through coordinated attacks that could even compromise infrastructure such as telecom networks, satellite systems, citing a study conducted by IDSA.

Giving the keynote address at the Bangalore Cyber Security Summit, held on Thursday, May 3, Reddy pointed out that cyber criminals have an "asymmetrical advantage" when a "strong cyber security policy" doesn't exist.

Given the increased occurrence of cyber attacks against the government, private institutions, and individuals, Reddy stated how it is "imperative to understand the risk of technology and (in) using the internet". She also pointed out that while individuals users are still at the most risk from cyber attacks - due to a variety of reasons such as the lack of cyber security awareness - that government agencies and private businesses, which have set up cyber security measures, were not adequately protected.

Citing a study by Nasscom, Reddy said this threat can be dealt with by setting up of centers of excellence for sharing best practices and the establishment of a cyber security research facility for conducting the relevant R&D and other associated measures.

Pointing out that cyber crime poses a unique challenge to security forces, Reddy suggested that just as India has a multi-agency center for coordination among the various central and state intelligence agencies, there should be a similar unified structure for agencies dealing with cyber security. She also mentioned that cyber security labs must be set up in major cities as well as on a national scale.

Reddy said that while having such plans is a good initial step, the need of the hour is for skilled manpower -- people well versed in areas such a cryptology, and other cyber security related fields. She talked of how the government should "try to attract more young professionals" with the required skill sets and as an added incentive allow "for a more flexible (employment) approach" so that they can move between government, academia and industry.

She praised the State of Karnataka for being at the forefront of establishing cyber security practices, mentioning how the first cyber crime police station was established in the state in 2001. Given the nature of the cyber threats we face today, she emphasized the need for the cyber security related implementations that have been set up in Karnataka to be replicated in other states as well.

Reiterating the importance of cyber security in today's world, M N Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science and Technology, Karnataka Government, spoke of how investing in cyber security makes "eminent sense" and aptly quoted a study that found that "it takes 2.7 times more (resources)" to fix a cyber breach like a malware attack or a hack attempt, than to have initially set up a security system to deal with such an eventuality.

Vidyashankar also spoke of how they have been able to keep the promises of the last cyber security meet -- namely the setting up of the first cyber security lab in Bangalore, and for the setting up of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal in Bangalore which as he put it, was agreed to "in principle" with the relevant authorities.

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