Amidst all the buzz surrounding ‘Digital India’ campaign, A shocking report has come from ITU, a UN body, which says that India’s cybersecurity preparedness ranking has fallen from 5th in 2014 to 23rd in 2017. Parul Manchanda gives all the details…

NEW DELHI, JULY 9International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technology, has published the Global Cybersecurity Index 2017 (GCI-2017), ranking India at 23rd position among 193 member states. Shockingly, India’s position has slipped from 5th position in 2014.  ITU, which measures the commitment of its member states to cybersecurity, has put India at “maturing” stage.

The top 10 countries of the Global security Index 2017 are Singapore, USA, Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France, Canada and Russian Federation. In the 2014 ranking, the US stood at first position followed by Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Oman, New Zealand, Norway, Brazil, Estonia, Germany followed by India.

The first edition of the Global Cybersecurity Index was launched in 2014. The five pillars of the GCI on which the Index is based are legal, technical, organizational, capacity building and cooperation.

India has initiated various programme and projects to turn the country into a digital economy by introducing Digital Locker, BHIM App for online transactions. The move towards a digital economy will help to improve economic growth, create more job opportunities in both public and private sector. But India faces a big challenge of cybersecurity and the government needs 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.

Cyberattacks in India currently stands at the amount of Rs 25,000 crore. Little known is the fact that there are hundreds of cyberattacks that go undetected and undiscovered. There are various reasons behind this like limited knowledge and awareness amongst people of the importance and benefits of cybersecurity.

India does not have any officially approved national or sector specific cyber security frameworks for the certification and accreditation of national agencies and public sector professionals. However, it has in place the Information Security Management System (ISMS) Standard ISO 27001. There is no officially recognized national program that supports the sharing cybersecurity assets within the public sector, says ITU 2015 report.

Despite having Information Technology Act, Specific legislation and regulation related to cybersecurity has been enacted in India in 2000, India has slipped from 5th position and now comes at 23rd position. India does not have an officially recognized agency that offers institutional support to child online protection and also there is no statistics showing how many professionals in India are certified under internationally recognized certification.

India is a member of the ITU-IMPACT initiative and has access to its relevant cybersecurity services. India is also a member of the UN Committee of Group of Experts as well as in the Council of Security Cooperation in Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) for enhancing cooperation in the area of cyber security.

ITU Global Cybersecurity Index 2017 reveals that Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of everyone’s life today, and the degree of inter-connectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised.

The research also reveals that while increased Internet access and more mature technological development is correlated with improvement in cybersecurity at the global level, this is not necessarily true for countries with developing economies and lower levels of technological development. Developing countries lack well-trained cybersecurity experts as well as a thorough appreciation and the necessary education on cybersecurity issues for law enforcement, and continued challenges in the judiciary and legislative branches. There is a need for the developed world to help train local experts in cybersecurity, and more cooperation should be initiated between developed and developing countries to assist them in cybersecurity development.

The objective of the GCI is to help countries identify areas for improvement in the field of cybersecurity, as well as to motivate them to take action to improve their ranking and last but not the least helping raise the overall level of commitment to cybersecurity worldwide.

“In 2016, nearly one percent of all emails sent were essentially malicious attacks, the highest rate in recent years. Ransomware attacks increasingly affected businesses and consumers, with indiscriminate campaigns pushing out massive volumes of malicious emails. Attackers are demanding more and more from victims, with the average ransom demand rising to over $1,000 in 2016, up from approximately $300 a year earlier. In May 2017, a massive cyberattack caused major disruptions to companies and hospitals in over 150 countries, prompting a call for greater cooperation around the world,” said ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau Director Brahima Sanou.

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