India Scrambles on Cyber Security

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    Last year brought a marked increase in the frequency of cyber attacks on Indian assets, with government and private infrastructure equally affected. A research report found an alarming 136 percent increase in cyber threats and attacks against Indian government organizations and a 126 percent spike in attacks targeting financial services organizations. According to Symantec’s 2013 Norton Report, by July 2013, sophisticated cyber assaults like ransomware and spear-phishing has cost Indian individuals and companies some $4 billion.

    Such is the dark side of the rising dependence on mobile systems and smartphones. At a time of heightened online breaches – phishing, defaced websites, network break-ins, virus attacks – the Indian government published its first ever National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP), in early July, 2013. The success and feasibility of the policy, however, is debatable.

    India’s Regional Woes

    In June 2012, cyber attacks were reported on the Indian Navy’s Eastern Command systems. The Eastern Naval Command oversees the maritime activities in the South China Sea, as well as the development of ballistic missile submarines. On July 12, 2013, just days after the NCSP was released, several high-level officials of the GOI reported their emails had been hacked. A subsequent investigation put the total number of hacked accounts at roughly 12,000, including systems from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP). Even the main National Informatics Centre email server, which serves as the nexus for all government departments, was believed to have been affected. Officers from the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), India’s premier technical intelligence agency under the NSA, believed that the hacks were directed at networks hosting state secrets.

    While any number of countries could be after secrets from the foreign and home ministries and DRDO, only one would be interested in ITBP: China, with which India has a long-running boundary dispute. This, along with the PLA’s recent involvement in cross-globe cyber espionage, should be ringing alarm bells in New Delhi. The U.S. recently indicated five People’s Liberation Army officers for hacking and economic espionage, in what is known as the Unit 61398 case. Although Beijing has repeatedly denied state involvement, a 2009 executive summary prepared for the American Congress by Northrop Grumman states that the nature of the malicious software being used was designed to steal data only a nation-state would want, primarily seeking defense-engineering specifications, military operational information, and U.S.-China policy documents.

    There are few reports of Pakistan and India indulging in overtly threatening cyber warfare, although in recent times, hacker groups based out of Lahore and Karachi have managed to break into the websites of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), mostly to deface the sites and leave hate mail. However, it is widely speculated that regional terrorist outfits, such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), make heavy use of social media sites to not only communicate effectively, but also to conduct recruitment drives, all under the government’s nose. Any cyber policy instituted by the GOI will need to actively deal with these issues.

    National Cyber Security Policy


    The NCSP essentially speaks of a framework for the protection of information in cyberspace by eliminating vulnerabilities. Major clauses include greater emphasis on research and development of indigenous security technology, and their effective testing and deployment. The policy also calls for enhanced public and private partnership vis-à-vis technical and operational cooperation, aimed at encouraging organizations to adopt individually tailored IT regulations and infrastructure, in conformity with international best practices. Development of human resources through training programs and other capacity-building measures is another crucial priority. The policy envisions creating a workforce of 500,000 cyber specialists in the next five years. Auxiliary services like the protection of private information in process, transit and storage; the creation of a well-defined legislative framework to deal with criminal investigations and prosecution; and the promotion of individual responsibility in dealing with cyber security also find a mention in the policy.

    The policy has also facilitated the creation of a new agency called the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), charged with protecting assets in sensitive sectors such as defense, finance, energy, and telecommunications. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which was previously tasked with security of national assets, now protects cyber assets in non-critical areas, and also acts as the nodal agency for all cyber security emergencies with round-the-clock functionality.

    Despite being a positive step towards securing India’s cyber assets, the NCSP is far from answering all nuances of the cyber threat, as they exist today.

    The most critical factor is the lack of details, along with a feasible nationwide strategy to achieve the objectives set out in the policy. Unlike statutes, policies passed by the Indian legislature are neither binding nor enforceable, but merely provide guidelines for a standard operating procedure. In this regard, the NCSP does not maximize its potential for optimum benefit. The text of the policy is easy to comprehend, as it basically outlines the perceived requirement to amend the existing framework and make it better suited to countering the threat of cyber attacks today. Yet the NCSP fails to comment on any political, economic or legal measure it intends to implement to achieve this objective. The Indian government budgeted just $7.76 million for cyber security in 2013, compared with at least $751 million spent by the U.S. government on its cyberspace programs.

    “Indian agencies don’t have enough resources. Their budget should be at least 10 times bigger if they have to function properly,” says Subimal Bhattacharjee, a cyber security expert and former India head of the U.S. information systems giant General Dynamics.

    A crucial point missing entirely from the NCSP is the security concerns in the telecom industry. Today, telecommunications are fully integrated into cyberspace, since the advent of internet protocols on mobile devices, and this has been identified as one of the primary factors for the increase in the number of attacks. Russian cyber security solutions firm Kaspersky Lab placed India second on its 2013 list of those countries must vulnerable to attacks on mobile phones.

    For its telecom industry, India incorporates equipment and infrastructure from global telecom companies, primarily Huawei Technologies Co.,Ltd., a leading Chinese telecommunications and networking equipment company, founded by Ren Zhengfei. It should be noted that Ren Zhengfei, an ex-major with the PLA, enjoys extensive ties with the Chinese military and the Communist Party, having been elected a member of the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. For their part, the U.S. and U.K. have severely curbed Huawei’s foray into their respective markets.

    Another notable point on which the NCSP maintains an ambiguous silence are the deliberations presently underway on setting up a fully fledged Indian Cyber Command, under the aegis of the defense services, to engage in network-centric warfare. Should this actually happen, a question of jurisdiction will arise, one that could easily become a quagmire.

    Even though the NCSP was released over a year ago, any benefits are yet to materialize. In the meantime, Indian companies and government organizations continue to defend themselves against unconventional warfare, which they do not understand in its entirety. Still, as the Dell Software Global Security Survey reports, companies in the Asia-Pacific have at least begun to prioritize their IT policies, to be in a better position to counter threats.

    CERT-In’s recent survey labels the .in domain as the most frequently attacked, which is alarming as this address is primarily used by government agencies and a few major private companies. Full statistics of the survey can be found here.

    Meanwhile, the Indian government seems to have realized the urgency of the need to develop cyber security training. In January 2013, the University Grants Commission directed technical universities and institutions to add Cyber Security and Information Security as subjects for higher studies. Premier institutes like the Institute for Information Security and Indian School of Ethical Hacking now offer these technical courses, as do a few major private universities in India.

    The key to cyber security in India lies in the effective operationalization of the NCSP. Workshops, seminars and courses aimed at informing the general public about the issue of cyber security, coupled with feasible public-private partnerships will work to offset the threat to India’s online assets in the long run.

    India Scrambles on Cyber Security | The Diplomat
     
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  3. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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  4. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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    India To Set-Up National Cyber Coordination Centre, Ups Cyber Defense Budget

    The Indian government has dedicated a budget of $16. 2 million to increase cyber security and cyber defense in the country. According to reports, the department of electronics and information technology seek approval for three projects that will enhance the government's ability to fight cyber attacks. Among them is the creation of a National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) at a cost of $13 million while the remaining two projects will aim to strengthen the government's email system and create a botnet clearing centre. The NCCC, expected to be up and running within the next year, will be tasked with monitoring internet traffic to help contain and thwart potential domestic or international attacks on its infrastructure.
    Its capabilities will also issuing advance alerts based on trends such as spikes in data, virus and botnets from a particular area. "We are going to beef up our investment in cyber security. And we will very soon go to the Cabinet with that. Security is very important and we are insisting on it at the international level," Telecommunications and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Business Standard. A botnet cleaning centre is also among the new projects. According to reports, India is among the top 10 sources of botnets in the world and the proposed centre will extract information to uncover the origins of the viruses and how they can be removed.

    India To Set-Up National Cyber Coordination Centre, Ups Cyber Defense Budget
     
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  5. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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    Government sets up expert study group to tackle cyber crimes

    NEW DELHI: With nearly 40 per cent annual increase in cyber crimes, government has set up an expert group to chalk out strategies for effective tackling of the menace. The five-member expert study group will prepare a roadmap for effectively tackling cyber crime in the country and give suitable recommendations on all its facets. India with a fast growing economy is susceptible to international and domestic cyber attacks and there is a need to ensure cyber crime- free environment. There has been almost 40 per cent annual increase in cyber crimes registered in the country during the past two-three years, a Home Ministry official said. The terms of reference of the expert group include to recommend possible partnerships with public and private sector, NGOs, international bodies and international NGOs besides any other special measures or steps the the group may like to recommend with regard to tackling cyber crimes. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the setting up of the expert group consisting of academicians and professionals of repute to prepare the roadmap in order to comprehensively address the issues of cyber crimes. The Home Minister told Parliament recently that there was a need to strengthen cyber monitoring in the wake of growing use of internet and social media by global terror outfits like ISIS to indoctrinate the youth. Singh was responding to concerns raised by MPs in the wake of arrest of Bangalore professional Mehdi Masroor Biswas for operating a pro-ISIS Twitter account. Arif Majid, one of the Mumbai youths, who had gone to the ISIS- controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, told police after his return that they were indoctrinated to extremist ideology through internet contents.
    Government sets up expert study group to tackle cyber crimes - The Economic Times
     
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  6. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    Indian Sites Prone to Cyber-Attacks by Pakistan During Key Events, Suggests CIA-Backed Firm

    WASHINGTON: India-Pakistan rivalry has spilled over into cyberspace through hacktivism and even "state-sponsored" attacks with popular Indian websites more prone to such strikes during high-profile events like cricket matches and Independence Day, a CIA-backed threat intelligence company has said.

    Analysing patterns of cyber-attacks around several events like Independence Day, 26/11 and cricket matches, Boston-based Recorded Future in its report suggested many possible motivations and objectives of the cyber activities between India and Pakistan, ranging from loosely- affiliated hacktivist groups defacing symbols and institutions to more coordinated state-sponsored attacks.
    "These are nationalistic hacker groups," Nagraj Seshadri, co-author of the report 'Hactivisk: India vs Pakistan', told PTI after the release of the study yesterday, which he said, is based on information extracted from the public domain.

    "The objective mostly is public embarrassment. If there is a big event, or if there is a big anniversary in the physical world or geo-political context, it is important to be vigilant on the cyber context and be prepared as well when it comes to websites or other cyber assets," Seshadri said.
    According to the report, India and Pakistan's Independence Days, which fall on August 15 and August 14 respectively, create a predictable pattern (at least over the past three years) of attacks and retaliatory strikes by the opposing hacker groups.
    An uptick in such activity before and after this year's Independence Day should not come as a surprise, the report said.
    Taking a closer look at the activities of the Pakistan Cyber Army (PCA), the report said it has been consistently active at least since the 2007 hacking, defacing and shutting down high-profile Indian websites.
    Government and private sites have been targeted by PCA including Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (a Fortune 500 company), Indian Railways, the Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Bank of India, and the State Government of Kerala.
    In fact, investigations by Recorded Future found that PCA has been publicly posting tutorials on some of its social network groups including Facebook on how to hack or deface an Indian website.
    "When we investigate the PCA's TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) to learn how they operate, we find examples like tutorials on how to set up phishing attacks as shown in this Facebook post," the report said as it showed a snapshot of the Facebook page.
    "In some instances the hackers chose to identify themselves -- for example, the hacker behind India's Kerala state website defacement in September 2015 identified himself as 'Faisal 1337'. But this is rare," it said.
    The report also mentioned several Indian groups which retaliate to the Pakistani cyber attacks.
    Recorded Future is a five-year-old company backed by the CIA's investment arm In-Q-Tel, Google and other investors.
    It's core offering is world's largest open source (OSINT) collection and analysis engine, bigger than anyone operated by either governments or commercial companies.
    Seshadri said that websites which are identified or are associated with the government need to be extra careful and take necessary precautionary measures to protect them from cyber-attacks during India-Pak cricket match, or other important events.
    Responding to a question, he said one is not sure how big the India-centric Pakistani hacking community is.
    Source>>
     

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