This Sunday, the Capital plays host to an international hackers’ conference where blackhat hackers will discuss the challenges of cyber safety with security agencies

Recently, millions of computer users across the globe faced the threat of a malefic virus attack which could have denied them access to their magic box. The news hit the headlines after the computer security company McAfee warned that nearly three lakh DNS Changer virus would hit computers across the world and over 20,000 in India may lose Internet access from July 9.

Luckily, with timely intervention by security agencies, the looming fear didn’t turn real. But that doesn’t take way the fact that cyber security is increasingly coming under threat worldwide. Closer home, security analyst in Delhi, Jiten Jain points out, “In the last few months alone, as many as 112 websites, including that of the Planning Commission, the Finance Ministry and various State Government agencies, were either hacked or defaced.” Cyber cells of the Police Department have been grappling with the rising rate of cyber crime even as hackers outsmart them in most cases. “Hacking in current times has grown beyond email hacks, phishing or online scams. India today is facing biggest ever national security challenge from cyber attacks and snooping from hostile countries,” states Jain. Sensing the times, “and the need to talk to look for solutions”, Jain with three fellow security analysts — Mohit Kumar, Prabhjot Singh and Kishlay Bhardwaj — is organising for the first time in India an international hackers’ conference on July 29. Significantly, it will bring hackers, security researchers and policy makers on to a single platform. Also, speakers from the government intelligence agencies, says Jain, will speak on national security issues emerging from Scada Hacking.

“What’s important is that we will bring some blackhat hackers to the conference. This will be the first gathering of blackhat hackers in India, they will help security agencies fill up the knowledge gap,” he says. A blackhat hacker is an individual with extensive computer knowledge whose purpose is to breach or bypass Internet security. Though it will have whitehat hackers too who “identify security weaknesses but instead of performing malicious attacks and theft, they inform the security flaw to the owner so they can fix it before a blackhat hacker can take advantage of it.” Throwing some more light here, Jain says that off late, there is a growing trend of hackers who started out as blackhat hackers “but are turning into whitehat hackers and working as cyber security consultants and helping companies secure their websites and networks.”

Experts from countries like Iran and Argentina will share space with Indian speakers in the day-long discussion at the India Habitat Centre. Yet another important issue the Hackers Conference 2012 will deliberate on is the Internet censorship in India. “This will be the first ever technical conference which will debate Government attempts and policies to regulate Internet.” The organisers feel that it is not just the Government’s responsibility alone to secure the critical infrastructure of the country. “It is also the responsibility of the professionals to help the Government in achieving it.” So at the conference, hackers and security researchers will demonstrate skills and share threat perceptions with Government agencies and other stake holders. “Today, we are lot more vulnerable to cyber espionage than before, not just from hostile countries but from terrorists too. So addressing cyber security concerns and securing our communication networks, power grids, etc. should be our highest priority,” signs off Jain. (For more details, go to www.thehackersconference.com)

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