With one of the largest numbers of internet users, India has massive cyberspace, which is constantly coming under attack from all sides. The rapid adoption of digitization, increased use of online payments and the RBI’s Central Bank Digital Currency are the major driving forces behind the rising rate of cybercrimes in India.
To counter the growing frequency and intensity of cyber attacks, the government of India is persistently devoting plenty of resources towards strengthening the country’s cybersecurity capabilities. And to further these efforts, the Indian government has introduced a number of initiatives to increase cybersecurity in organisations and amongst the general public. Before we talk more about what these initiatives are and everything they entail, let’s discuss why they are necessary.
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Need for Cybersecurity Initiatives in India
Following are some staggering statistics that show just how necessary cybersecurity initiatives are to improve the state of India’s cyber defence.
- A December 2021 report by Business Standard stated that India was expected to be one of the largest victims of cybercrimes in two years
- According to this report, cyber attacks are projected to show a 200% year-on-year increase
- As per the data provided by Computer Emergency Response Team, India recorded a whopping 1.16 million breaches in 2020, marking a three-fold increase in cybersecurity incidents from 2019
- According to government sources, 6,07,220 cybersecurity breaches have been recorded till June 2021
What Cybersecurity Initiatives Has the Indian Government Taken?
As established by the statistics mentioned above, the cybersecurity landscape in India is in need of some serious reinforcement. The government of India is putting plenty of efforts into enhancing the level of cybersecurity in the country. According to a report by Business Standard, the Indian government outspent its cybersecurity-related budgeted estimates for the first time in eight years in 2021-22.
In the most recent budget for 2022-23, an amount of ₹515 crores has been allocated to cybersecurity, marking an increase of 10 times from 2014-15. To promote the culture of cybersecurity in organisations and amongst the public, several cybersecurity initiatives have been introduced by the government. Let’s discuss some of the major ones.
1. Cyber Surakshit Bharat
To meet the need for strengthening India’s cybersecurity ecosystem and complement the Digital India initiative, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) introduced the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative. Established in association with the National e-Governance Division (NeGO) and industry partners, this initiative aims to build capacity, spread awareness and enable government departments to take the necessary steps for creating a resilient IT setup.
This initiative includes an awareness program underlining the importance of security. The program comprises a series of workshops on the most effective ways of managing and mitigating cyber threats through best practices and enablement of the officials with cybersecurity health tool kits. The major objective of this program is to educate the Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and the broader IT community to resolve the issues of cybersecurity. Here’s what the program aims to achieve:
- Create awareness about the prevalent and emerging cyber threats
- Provide in-depth understanding of new initiatives, key activities, problems and related solutions
- Share best practices to learn from failures and success
- Applicable frameworks, policies, and guidelines related to the subject.
- Provide key inputs to enable an informed decision on cybersecurity-related challenges in the respective functional areas
Under this initiative, training sessions are conducted for CISOs and technical officials belonging to the Central Government, Union Territories, State Governments, Public Sector Units, Public Sector Banks, Defence PSUs, Defence Forces and technical arms of the Army, Air Force and the Navy.
2. Cyber Swachhta Kendra
Also known as the Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre, Cyber Swachhta Kendra was established by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in alignment with the Indian government’s Digital India Initiative. Adhering to the objectives of the National Cyber Security Policy, this initiative aims to contribute towards securing the country’s cybersecurity ecosystem.
Operating in close collaboration and coordination with product/antivirus companies and Internet Service Providers, Cyber Swachhta Kendra aims to create a secure cyber space by detecting botnet infections in India. Being run by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), it notifies as well as enables cleaning and securing systems of end users to prevent further infections.
Cyber Swachhta Kendra works on analysing the characteristics of BOTs and malware and providing citizens with this valuable information to enable them to remove these BOTs and malware. Moreover, it strives to generate awareness amongst citizens to secure their computers, mobile phones, data and devices like home routers.
3. Cyber Jagrukta Divas
Based on the realisation that sustained cybersecurity awareness is a prerequisite for preventing cybercrimes, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) launched the Cyber Jagrukta Divas initiative. This government initiative has been brought under the I4C scheme to improve cybersecurity awareness among panchayat raj institutions (PRIs), universities, public sector undertakings (PSUs), banks, schools, etc.
Under this initiative, all the banks and government organisations are required to celebrate Cyber Jagrukta Divas on the first Wednesday of every month. The MHA and RBI have requested all the concerned organisations to prepare an annual action plan in this regard. To celebrate Cyber Jagrukta Divas, organisations will need to conduct an hour-long session to generate cybersecurity awareness every month. These sessions will emphasise the importance of cybersecurity, educate employees about the best practices and provide ways to promote cyber hygiene.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has suggested a set of topics that must be covered under the annual action plan for generating cybersecurity awareness in organisations. These topics are divided into four major units. The annual action plan that is required to be prepared by every organisation must comprise these four units. However, each of the institutions has the flexibility to choose amongst the given topics for developing their action plan.
In addition to these three mentioned above, the Indian government has introduced several other cybersecurity initiatives to strengthen and promote the country’s cybersecurity ecosystem. Make sure to stay updated on these initiatives to gain a better understanding of how you can contribute towards making cyber space safer.