Details of partnership will be unveiled this week

Signs of potential private sector participation in cyber security has opened new and unchartered territory in India’s national security regime.

The first hint of such collaboration came from Deputy National Security Adviser Vijay Latha Reddy, who, in her opening remarks at an Internet governance conference last week, spoke of a deeper engagement with the private sector in cyber security issues. Details of the partnership are likely to be unveiled early this week.

Inter-ministerial coordination

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon is additionally strengthening inter-ministerial coordination and institutions like the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), while initiating wider global engagement in cyber security matters.

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had simultaneously spoken of need for consensus among multi-stakeholders on the overall issue of Internet governance, of which cyber security is one of the most significant parts.

Minister of State for Telecom Sachin Pilot concurrently led a delegation to the Budapest Cyber Space Conference, which was attended by over 600 delegates, including political and industry leaders not just from the western world but also from several developing countries.

Growing realisation

The trigger for this new multi-pronged approach is a growing realisation within the government that while such an intense engagement with industry may be new in India, globally telecom equipment vendors, telecom companies, information technology firms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are an invaluable and inseparable part of any nation’s cyber security strategy.

India’s critical ‘information’ infrastructure which, for the most part, runs on the privately owned telecom networks is now at the centre of the entire operation.

The private sector can play a crucial role in tackling two domestic challenges: capacity-building and the creation of a dynamic and evolving institutional framework in the country.

Besides the network elements, Internet customers and assets that the private sector owns, making its role critical to cyber security, the partnership presents an opportunity for the government to help to incubate innovative technologies and processes to fight spam, malware and other sources of attacks on computer systems.

The public-private partnership, led primarily by Ms. Reddy, is expected to catapult the cooperation between the government and the private sector into a different league from the traditional engagement in vendor-relationship areas like the manufacture/supply of arms, military vehicles and equipment.

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