India encountered more than 18 million cyberattacks and threats, averaging nearly 200,000 per day in the first quarter of 2022.
Cyber threats in India can be categorized as follows:
- Cyber espionage: This involves unauthorized access to confidential information held by the government or citizens using computer networks or viruses. Examples include Fancy Bear, a Russia-based cyber attacker targeting US and European military organizations, and the Pegasus spyware cyberattack in India.
- Cybercrime: Offensive manoeuvres aimed at damaging or destroying specific computer networks or systems fall under cybercrime. An example is the hacking of 3.2 million SBI ATM cards in 2016.
- Cyber terrorism: This refers to the convergence of terrorism and cyberspace to cause societal disruption and violence against individuals or property. Extremist propaganda for recruiting terrorists is an example of cyber terrorism.
- Cyber warfare: Actions taken by a nation-state or its proxies to infiltrate the computers or networks of other nations fall under cyber warfare. Stuxnet, designed to attack the Iranian nuclear program, is an example.
India’s approach to cybersecurity has been ad hoc and unsystematic, but it has initiated several programs and initiatives:
1 . Policy measures:
- National Cyber Security Policy 2013: Designed to create a secure computing environment and instill trust and confidence in electronic transactions.
- It provides guidance for stakeholders to protect cyberspace.
2. Legislative measures:
- Amendments to the IT Act, 2000 in 2008.
- The government’s decision to block Chinese applications in 2020.
- The Personal Data Protection Bill, which emphasizes data localization to store sensitive personal data within India.
Bodies and organizations addressing cyber-attacks in India:
- CERT-In: Mandates all organizations providing digital services to report cyber security incidents promptly.
- Cyber Swachhta Kendra: Launched to detect malicious programs.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat: Aims to raise awareness about cybercrimes and build capabilities to combat them.
- National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre: Focuses on safeguarding critical sectors such as power, energy, banking, and financial services.
- National Cyber Coordination Centre: Monitors internet traffic, detects cyber threats in real-time, and generates actionable reports/alerts.
- I4C- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre: Comprising a threat analysis unit and reporting portal, it conducts joint cybercrime investigations.
- Defense Cyber Agency: A tri-service command of the Indian forces, along with the Chief Information Security Officer.
The government plans to establish a Cyber Warrior Police Force and the National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA). Additionally, a collaborative approach involving industry, citizens, and the state is necessary to effectively address cyber threats.