The Government will close a chink in the country’s preparedness against cyber attacks and spying by making it mandatory for all telecom equipment to be tested in India from next year.
So far telecom operators have to comply with five basic conditions which include equipment induction after testing from any laboratory including those located overseas.
The measure is taking shape at a time when Chinese content in Indian telecom networks is growing. In the last two years, Chinese equipment accounted for 60 per cent of total telecom equipment imports and their percentage has now risen to just over 50 per cent.
The Government has in the past turned down the procurement of Chinese equipment on the suspicion that it contained a back-window for transmitting information.
With only 12 to 14 per cent of the equipment having indigenous content and imports expected to hover around the Rs. 75,000-crore mark annually, the Government has started the process of by setting up a pilot lab at IISc, Bengaluru to develop test standards, procedures and test tools for testing telecom equipment.
This will evolve into a telecom testing and security certification centre to enable telecom providers get their equipment tested in India after April 1, 2015, said a Government source.
The step will be in tandem with the controversial plan floated by the previous United Progressive Alliance Government for setting up a National Cyber Coordination Centre which will analyse and collect meta-data or in simple terms, undertake round-the-clock monitoring of the Internet as India's first layer for cyber threat monitoring.
In addition, the Government has identified 13 sectors as “critical infrastructure’’ whose cyber security will be beefed up by the National Critical Information Infrastructure Centre under the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).
The Government is already persuading Indian Internet Service providers to locate their servers in the country to prevent purloining of privacy and interests of its citizens by outsiders. The official noted that Rediff and Indiatimes have already done so. The Government has also set up a laboratory at Kolkata which has already issued three internationally recognised certificates on cyber security to Internet Service Providers.