Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has stressed the need for a national framework to thwart cyber attacks that have been on the rise in the country.
While a National Cybersecurity Strategy is in the offing, the country is also in dire need of a data protection law, with cybercriminals increasingly weaponising data as a tool against national security in the post-pandemic era, he added.
General Rawat was delivering the inaugural address of the 14th edition of c0c0n, the annual cyber security and hacking conference organised by the Kerala Police, which formally got under way on Friday.
With data gradually transcending into the open domain with numerous firms permitting employees to work from their homes amid the pandemic, sensitive information has become susceptible to security vulnerabilities. The rise of digital payments has also increased complex cyber crimes.
“Cyber crimes have gone up by almost 500% in India during the global pandemic. We need to consider the emerging threats from new technologies such as drones, ransomware, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and also the role of nation states in such cyber attacks. The lockdown, which witnessed a deeper adoption of interconnected devices and hybrid work environment, has increased our dependence on technology. This renders us digitally more vulnerable than ever before,” he said.
Highlighting the possibility of government officials who deal with sensitive information becoming prime targets for cyber attacks, General Rawat lamented the fragmented approach that prevailed in handling the threat. The National Cybersecurity Strategy was aimed at amalgamating individual cyber prowess, he said.
General Rawat said the Information Technology Act, 2000, that dealt with cybersecurity and cyber crimes is not equipped to consider new-age changes in the mode of functioning of businesses and modus operandi of crimes in cyber space.
The CDS also lamented the delay in passing the Personal Data Protection Bill that had been tabled in Parliament two years ago. “Data is the new goldmine for any organisation, especially for the bad elements that lurk in the dark web. With cyber criminals and inimical actors increasingly using information to threaten national security, the matter is of serious concern,” General Rawat said.
State Police Chief Anil Kant, Additional Director General of Police Manoj Abraham, Information Security Research Association (ISRA) president Manu Zacharia and Society for the Policing of Cyberspace (POLCYB) executive director Bessie Pang also spoke on the occasion.