Shivshankar Menon, National Security Advisor, has announced that a permanent Joint Working Group (JWG) will be set up under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). The JWG will be a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in which representatives of the government and private sector will work together to strengthen cyber security in India.
The report titled ‘Recommendations of Joint Working Group on Engagement with Private Sector on Cyber Security’ said that the JWG will be faced with the preliminary task of implementing 4 pilot projects that include setting up a testing lab, conducting audits, studying samples for vulnerability and establishing a centre of excellence.
The Joint Working Group’s recommendations include creation of Information Sharing & Analysis centres, training law enforcement agencies in cyber crime investigation, making the general public aware of cyber security and setting up an Institute of Cyber Security Professionals of India, said a press release.
Shivshankar Menon also acknowledged that the government will not be able to tackle the issue alone and that a PPP will be the key to balancing ‘social media responsibility with democratic freedom’. He may have been referring to how rumour mongering on social media was believed to have fuelled riots and violence against a certain section of the Indian population recently.
Indians enjoy a relatively high level of online freedom as noted in a recent Freedom House report that ranked India 3rd in Asia and 20th in the world for editorial independence online. The JWG should be looking at protecting national interest along with improving India’s standing as a country that upholds democracy and the right of every online citizen to voice opinions online.
The Freedom House report also mentioned hacking attempts on government agencies. J. Satyanarayana, Secretary, Dept. of Electronics and IT, said that more than 20,000 cyber attacks have already taken place in the public and private sector this year, reported livemint. In May we had talked about how Reliance servers were hacked and users were denied access to certain websites.
Despite having mentioned only hacking attempts and anti-social elements on social media here, the term cyber security has a phenomenal footprint when it comes to national security.
As the government marches forward with a host of IT initiatives, JWG poses to be a stepping stone towards protecting the interest of the nation.
Cyber security has been on the agendas of governments worldwide. In July this year, President Obama said that “It’s clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. In short, America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security.”
The US Government’ Cyberspace Policy Review made cyber security a key management priority for the President. It also talked about enhancing public-private partnership to combat cyber security threats.
This initiative places India, as a government eager to address cyber security and establish a framework of some sort. At a time when the world converges to Indian shores to enter various markets post FDI reforms, the JWG will potentially arm the government to better understand the nature and vastness of the online domain.