Cyber security is becoming an increasingly important issue for government enforcement agencies in India. The use of mobile internet in order to carry out several economic and criminal offences have further worsened the scenario. Uttar Pradesh is one of the states where security agencies have used technology to track, trace and nab criminals. RK Vishwakarma, IPS, ADG – Tech Services and IT, Uttar Pradesh Police shares his thoughts on the rising threat of cyber crime and how to deal with it. Excerpts:
As one of the key police personnels having huge experience in ICT, e-Governance and information security, how do you perceive global threats in terms of cyber security?
We live in an increasingly networked world, from personal banking to government infrastructure. Protecting these networks is no longer optional. Security threats are multiplying acutely all over the globe, and targeting individuals and companies alike. Damage is inflicted by hackers who manipulate vulnerabilities against the users’ systems, and the consequences are dreadful. There is a global threat of crimes dealing with computers and networks, such as hacking, phishing, child pornography, telemarketing/internet fraud, Cyber Stalking, Denial of Service, Dissemination of Malicious Software (Malware), Cyber Defamation, Digital Forgery, Cyber Terrorism.
Especially in this age of vibrant social media, how can cyber security threats be tackled?
To tackle cyber security threats, it is advised that users (businesses and common people) take into serious consideration things such as antivirus, firewalls and gateways, strong passwords, secure wi-fi connection. Along with this, citizens should:
•Never click on links in unknown emails
•Never open the unknown attachments
•Never give out personal information
•Set secure passwords and shouldn’t share them with anyone
•Keep their operating system, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date
•Verify the authenticity of requests from companies or individuals by contacting them directly
•Pay close attention to website URLs
•For e-Mail, turn off the option to automatically download attachments
•Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or text message
Cyber security is a matter of concern for security agencies. How do you think it can be countered?
Security agencies can counter cyber security issues using digital signatures, encryption and cyber forensics.
Along with this, for legal enforcement, there is Information Technology Act, 2000. The Information Technology Act, 2000 intends to give legal recognition to e- commerce and e-governance, and facilitate its development as an alternate to paper-based traditional methods. The Act has adopted a functional equivalents approach in which paper-based requirements such as documents, records and signatures are replaced with their electronic counterparts. The Act seeks to protect this advancement in technology by defining crimes, prescribing punishments, laying down procedures for investigation and forming regulatory authorities.
ICT has become the backbone of our economic growth and is critical for both economic and social well-being of the nation. How can the use of technology and ICT in particular help in ensuring better security and safety for the citizens?
To ensure better safety and security for citizens there is use of technology in many areas. In Uttar Pradesh, the security agencies are enabled with CCTV Surveillance. Plus, different mobile applications/web portals in U.P. like Lost Article Report, Vikalp portal, Complaint Registration, eFIR etc are becoming a way of life. Furthermore, the government has set up Emergency Calling numbers in U.P. like Dial 100, Women Helpline 1090 to help them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described cyber-related threats as a global risk to bloodless war and also calls it the biggest challenge for India. How do you see?
As the nation was successful in unearthing terrorist networks involved in the recently carried out terror attacks, what was noteworthy was the use of tools such as emails, cell phones, satellite phones, etc to stay connected.
The state government and regulatory bodies have demonstrated significant focus on cyber security. Several initiatives have been initiated, implemented or are under implementation to strengthen this capability. Focus should be further strengthening the cyber security initiatives to address the growing cyber challenges and ensure effective implementation keeping in mind the regulations and global standards.
What is your opinion for major security challenges in the year ahead?
Some challenges and concerns are highlighted below :
•Need of a strong IT Act and innovative cyber laws to tackle the plethora of issues thrown by the fast paced progress of ICT.
•Need of e-mail account policy especially for the defence forces, police and the agency personnel.
•Need of awareness and the culture of cyber security at individual as well as institutional level.
•Need of trained and qualified manpower to implement the counter measures.
•Cyber attacks have come not only from terrorists but also from neighboring countries inimical to our National interests.
Interview by: Dr Nand Kishor, Consultant – CyberMedia
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