Centre to review IT Act to bolster cybersecurity

The government is mulling a review of the more than 15-year-old Information Technology (IT), Act to strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure, following the push for digital payments post-demonetisation.

“The IT Act came out in 2000. Since then, it has by and large served us well. Now, as we move towards a digital economy, we are reviewing if there is a need to re-look at the IT Act architecture to make it more of a deterrent for cyber criminals,” Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

A “closed group”, under IT Secretary Aruna Sundarajan, has been set up to look into various aspects of the Act in line with the changing times.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), which will soon issue advisories to all digital payment agencies including banks and e-wallets providers “to harden security walls”, has also set up a separate ‘digital payments’ division under Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) — its cyber security arm — to monitor and strengthen cashless transactions. “All digital payments agencies have been asked to report to CERT-In any unusual activity that they see on their platforms,” Mr.Prasad said. The division was set up after the November 8 announcement withdraw old Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes from circulation.

The Minister said, “We are taking several measures to ensure a resilient system. We will audit IT infra of NPCI... have formed crack teams at CERT-In for immediate response ...There are CIOs who have been appointed in every ministry and govt department... We are undertaking massive program to create awareness among administrators, judges etc.”

To strengthen cyber security, the IT ministry had recently approved 26 new posts in CERT-Inand five State CERTs.

The Minister also met senior representatives of the RBI as well as public and private sector banks, and NPCI. While asking banks to incentivise digital payments and transactions, Mr. Prasad said, to address concerns of cyber security, the IT ministry would soon conduct a security drill both for the banks and NPCI.

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