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Updated: December 7, 2013 00:03 IST

Trackable user ID can curb cyber foes: Balakrishnan

Special Correspondent
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Associate Director, IISc., N Balakrishnan and Sarat Chandra Babu, ED, C-DAC, during a conference on cyber space security in Bangalore on Friday. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
Associate Director, IISc., N Balakrishnan and Sarat Chandra Babu, ED, C-DAC, during a conference on cyber space security in Bangalore on Friday. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

As cyber attacks are increasingly being mounted through social media and infected “botnet” computers to harm people and economies, a traceable cyber identity for every single user may be one way of thwarting such attacks, according to N. Balakrishnan, Associate Director of the Indian Institute of Science.

Biometrics could be a traceable solution. Another tool is to educate people about good cyber practices, he told the third National Conference on Cyber Space Security 2013 that opened here on Friday.

The two-day third annual event, titled “Securing national critical infrastructure”, was organised by the Bangalore chapter of the Computer Society of India.

The country’s security agencies and policy-makers, he said, were today up against deadly cyber threats from botnets; these armies of breached computers fleece the financial systems and mislead people with misinformation through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and mobile phone texts. Botnets had become the most virulent as their aim was “not to kill the victim but let it bleed to death.”

Dr. Balakrishnan was chairman of the multi-agency joint working group that crafted guidelines on securing the national cyber infrastructure.

Fake or compromised IDs were at the heart of botnets that sent out trouble-causing mails, messages and tweets. “Every crime meets the social media. [Therefore] Every individual should have a traceable identity” to make out machine-generated false information in these media, Dr. Balakrishnan said.

In today’s Internet explosion led by millions of new websites, searches and instant communication, he said “there is a huge impending threat to society from social media.” Indians were also targeted from outside as in the case of people of the northeast fleeing the southern States in August 2012.

People should also be educated about these dangers and how to use their digital devices safely, by practising password protection and logout discipline, he suggested.

Sharat Chandra Babu, Executive Director of the Centre for Development Advanced Computing, which works on cyber security among other areas, said honest designers lagged attackers and should be updated. The countering forces should also make the system smarter, impregnable and confusing to the attacker, he said.

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