Content

  1. Patching the gaps in India’s cybersecurity
  2. New space

Editorial: Patching the gaps in India’s cybersecurity

Context:

  • There was a sensational report in The New York Times, “China appears to warn India: push too hard and the lights could go out”, based on investigations by a United States-based cybersecurity firm.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 3: Basics of Cyber Security; Role of media and social-networking sites in internal security challenges; Internal security challenges through communication networks.

Mains Questions:

  1. Discuss the potential threats of Cyber-attack and the security framework to prevent it. 10 Marks
  2. Considering the threats cyberspace poses for the country, India needs a “Digital Armed Force” to prevent crimes. Critically evaluate the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 outlining the challenges perceived in its effective implementation. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is cyber security?
  • Why Cyber security is needed?
  • Challenges to Cyber security
  • Measures taken by the government to improve the cyber security
  • Way forward

What is Cyber Security?

Cybersecurity means securing the cyberspace from attack, damage, misuse and economic espionage. Cyberspace is a global domain within the information environment consisting of interdependent IT infrastructure such as Internet, Telecom networks, computer systems etc.

Why Cyber Security is needed?

  • Government’s digital push: Various programs of government such as Aadhaar, MyGov, Government eMarket, DigiLocker, Bharat Net etc. is prompting a larger number of citizens, companies and government agencies to transact online.
  • Start-ups digital push: India is the third largest hub for technology-driven start-ups in the world and its ICT sector is estimated to reach $225 billion landmark by 2020.
  • Increasing vulnerability: India the fifth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of cybersecurity breaches. India saw at least one cybercrime every 10 minutes during the first half of 2017 including more sophisticated cyber threats such as the WannaCry and Petya ransomware. The country accounted for 5.09 per cent of all cyberattacks such as malware, spam and phishing attacks detected globally in 2017.
  • Increasing cost: The estimated cost of cyber-attacks in India stands at four billion dollars which is expected to reach $20 billion in the next 10 years.
  • Increasing internet users: India ranks 3rd in terms of number of internet users after USA and China. By 2020, India is expected to have 730 million internet users with 75% of new users from rural areas.
  • Increasing online transactions: For e.g.: by 2020, 50% of travel transactions will be online and 70% of ecommerce transactions will be via mobile.

Challenges of Cyber Security in India

  • Data colonization: India is net exporter of information however data servers of majority of digital service providers are located outside India. Also, data is being misused for influencing electoral outcomes, spread of radicalism etc.
  • Widespread Digital illiteracy makes Indian citizens highly susceptible to cyber fraud, cyber theft, etc.
  • Substandard devices: In India, majority of devices used to access internet have inadequate security infrastructure making them susceptible to malwares such as recently detected ‘Saposhi’. Also, rampant use of unlicensed software and underpaid licenses make them vulnerable as well.
  • Lack of adoption of new technology: For Eg-Banking infrastructure is not robust to cop-up with rising digital crime as 75% of total Credit and Debit card are based on magnetic strip which are easy to be cloned.
  • Lack of uniform standards: There are variety of devices used with non-uniform standards which makes it difficult to provide for a uniform security protocol.
  • Import dependence for majority of electronic devices from cell phones to equipment’s used in power sector, defence, banking, communication and other critical infrastructure put India into a vulnerable situation.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure and trained staff: There are currently around 30,000 cyber security vacancies in India but demand far outstrips supply of people with required skills.
  • Under-reporting: majority of cases of cybercrime remains unreported because of lack of awareness.
  • Lack of coordination among various agencies working for cyber security. Private sector, despite being a major stakeholder in the cyberspace, has not been involved proactively for the security of the same.
  • Anonymity: Even advanced precision threats carried out by hackers is difficult to attribute to specific actors, state or nonstate.

Measures taken by the government to improve the Cyber Security

  • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) to battle cyber security threats in strategic areas such as air control, nuclear and space. It will function under the National Technical Research Organisation, a technical intelligence gathering agency controlled directly by the National Security Adviser in PMO.
  • National cyber coordination centre (NCCC) to scan internet traffic coming into the country and provide real time situational awareness and alert various security agencies.
  • A new Cyber and Information Security (CIS) Division has been created to tackle internet crimes such as cyber threats, child pornography and online stalking.
  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative to strengthen Cybersecurity ecosystem in India. It is first public private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity.
  • Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) to provide a legal framework for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange, for data access for cybersecurity etc.

Way Forward

Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of our life today, and the degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised. Governments are therefore urged to consider policies that support continued growth in technology sophistication, access and security, and as a crucial first step, to adopt a national cybersecurity strategy.


Editorial: New space

Context:

  • With the launch of Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite last week from Sriharikota, a new chapter has begun in India’s space history. The satellite, a 637-kilogram entity, was the first dedicated commercial mission of New Space India Limited, a two-year-old commercial arm of the Department of Space.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 3: Awareness in fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nanotech, Biotech, IPR issues.

Mains Questions:

  1. ISRO must take advantage of the market opportunities from space applications. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the article:

  • Private sectors in Space Activities:
  • Benefits of private sector in space activities
  • Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe)
  • Steps taken by the IRSO
  • Way forward

Private sectors in Space Activities:

Government, under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (Self-Reliant India Mission), announced role for private sector in India’s space programme, including in satellites, launches and space-based services.

  • Level playing field provided to private companies in satellites, launches and space-based services.
  • Predictable policy and regulatory environment to private players.
  • Private sector will be allowed to use ISRO facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities.
  • Recently, ISRO opened up its facilities for private players, which includes helping a consortium of companies to build polar satellite launch vehicle.
  • Future projects for planetary exploration, outer space travel etc. shall also be open for private sector.
  • There will be liberal geo-spatial data policy for providing remote-sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs.

Benefits of private sector in space activities

  • Increasing Demand for satellites with need to launch 18-20 satellites every year. With existing ISRO manpower, it is difficult and private sector can play role here meeting global requirements too.
  • Getting latest innovations and trends: Collaboration with private players is vital for capacity building, getting cutting-edge technology, latest innovations etc.
  • Freeing up resources: A large chunk of ISRO’s manpower is involved in manufacturing and launch vehicles, so active involvement of the private sector would allow ISRO to devote more time to core research, deep-space missions etc.
  • Reducing dependence on taxpayer’s money: Privatizing activities in space sector will allow economic contribution from private sector and will reduce dependence on funds from government.
  • Job creation: Creation of new jobs in high-skilled labour market in private space industry.
  • Securing our space capabilities by distributing them across different satellites and spacecraft, so that business continuity is unaffected even if an adversary manages to disable one or more satellites. This becomes increasingly important with concept of Space warfare.
  • Meeting India-centric needs: Private-sector help is needed to cater rapidly changing technological scenarios and to contribute to digitalization.

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe)

Government of India has created IN-SPACe to boost private sector participation in entire range of space activities.

  • It is the new entity of the Department of Space which will have its own chairperson and board.
  • It will regulate and promote building of routine satellites, rockets and commercial launch services through Indian industry and startups.
  • It will have its own directorates for technical, legal, safety and security, monitoring and activities promotion.
  • It will act as an interface between ISRO and private parties, and assess how best to utilised India’s space resources and increase space-based activities.
  • It will function autonomously and parallel to ISRO.
  • It is the second space organisation created by the government in the last two years. The first one was New Space India Limited (NSIL) after it was announced in 2019 Budget.

Steps taken by the IRSO

  • ISRO has set up a Space Technology Park in Bengaluru where range of facilities has been set up for use by industry.
  • In 2018, ISRO had signed a contract with three industries to build 27 satellites in three years.
  • New Space India Limited was founded in 2019, by Department of Space to bridge gap between ISRO and private sector and facilitate transfer of ISRO technologies to industry.

Way forward

  • Creating a separate Space Commerce body: that is independent of ISRO, for space-related activities or a dedicated road map within ISRO for commercial space in India.
  • Promoting startups as they have potential of leapfrogging product/service offerings out of India and are scalable globally.
  • ISRO providing mentorship allowing private sector to leverage technical expertise built by ISRO in an appropriate manner.
  • Enactment of space legislations: To define regulatory, legal and procedural regimes with transparent timelines for pursuing space activities by private space industry.
  • Draft Space Activities Bill, 2017 was proposed to promote and regulate space activities of India. It talked about participation of private sector agencies in space activities in India under guidance and authorization of Department of Space.
  • Establishing Think-tank constituting distinguished experts in space field. It will provide key insights on space programme management, dual-use of technologies, space law, international space agreements, etc.
  • Setting up industry-academia linkups for creating systemic changes in establishing a leading research environment.
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