As modernization takes over the world by storm, every aspect of our life can now be fulfilled online. We can send messages, meet with friends, pay our bills and even view a place at the other end of the world. All of this is possible thanks to the Internet.
The world has become a closer place and anything can be obtained at a touch of your fingertip. With more and more people getting acquainted with the digital world, it has become the need of the hour for an organization to be able to operate on the Internet.
Not surprisingly, this has caught the eye of various Governments who have now shifted to using the Internet for various processes which would’ve previously required in-person attendance. Admittedly, this has made life much easier for citizens. Having essential services at one’s fingertips really does make one marvel at how far the world has come.
However, there’s a flip side to every coin. Like a shadow beneath the light, there are dangers lurking the vast expanse of Internet who eye such websites with malicious intent. As more and more people use Government websites for ease of convenience, they become a sort of treasure trove for people who are on the lookout for exploiting this data.
In 2020, 11,58,208 cyber attacks were reported by the Union home ministry as compared to 3,94,499 in the year 2019. That is an almost 300% increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This might’ve been caused due to the rise of online activity as more and more people looked towards the internet as a means to an end during the lockdown period.
When citizens operate on Government websites, they need to input their confidential and private information on to these websites so as to identify themselves. This data can range from their name, date of birth, address, mobile numbers, Aadhar Card number as well as credit card details in some cases.
All this information is Personally Identifiable to an individual and forms a core part of their identity within the society. However, if this data gets leaked or hacked in the event of a cyber attack, the lives of lakhs of individuals will be disrupted. Hackers can use this information to know more about their victims and wreak further havoc in to their lives or they can simply steal this information, in turn stealing that person’s identity. They can then impersonate the said person to commit further crimes whilst safeguarding themselves.
However not only ordinary civilians’ lives are at stake. Cyber attacks are a threat to the national security of a country. If confidential information is ever leaked from Government websites, the consequences can be disastrous. The Government of India has come to terms with the impact cyber attacks can have on a nation’s security. Keeping this in mind, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT-IN was formed to address these issues.
CERT-IN is India’s top cyber security agency which issues warnings and alerts regarding the latest threats and vulnerabilities to Government agencies. This agency is headed by Dr. Sanjay Bahl and constitutes as the core threat analysis team regarding cyber attacks.
The agency reported that over 26,100 Indian websites were hacked in the year 2020 out of which 59 were Government websites. Now that might look like a small number, but considering the amount of traffic that each website sees every day, such websites become cesspools for hackers to target and infiltrate.
Mr. Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, said, “According to the logs analysed and made available to CERT-In, the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the computers from where the attacks appear to be originated belong to various countries, including Algeria, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Netherlands, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, USA, Vietnam etc” Hackers hide their own location by using various masquerading techniques and servers located around the world. This makes it harder to track the source of the attack.
Over 700 organisations were issued alerts by CERT-IN regarding their cyber security practices. Having a strong security infrastructure is the first line of defence in preventing cyber attacks.
Mr. Vaishnaw has presented a draft titled, National Cyber Security Strategy 2021 or NCSS2021 to be presented towards the assembly. This draft aims at addressing and solving various issues related to the national cyber security. Over 58 security auditing organisations have been roped in to help them assist with this task.
Having taken such commendable steps, India’s cyber security can be said is backed by a commendable force. However, the efforts should not stop here. With the personal lives of crores of people in the hands of only a handful people, it is ever the more essential to remain alert for any impending danger.
Hackers are always on the lookout for the weakest link in the chain from where they can attack. Therefore it’s important for the Government to provide cyber security awareness to it’s employees who handle such crucial information on a daily basis.
Training camps and sessions need to be held so as to educate them on the various ways they can be targeted. Mock drills can be held so as to inform them on protocols to be followed in the event of a cyber attack. 15 such educational programmes overing 708 participants were conducted by CERT-IN in the year 2020.
Taking such concrete steps towards protecting the national interest of a country empowers it’s citizens. They become more self aware when they realise how much efforts the Government takes in securing their privacy. This establishes a healthy relationship based on trust between the people. Taking measures to combat cyber attacks and strengthening such websites with the latest advancements in cyber security helps keep hackers at bay.
We hope we were able to provide some insights on the need for cyber security for Government websites as well as the consequences of not doing so. We hope you found the article informative and were able to get some factual data from it.