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India vulnerable to cyber crime, needs to upgrade tech: IIT-Kanpur study

Cyber crimes had been rising constantly till 2013, when 71,780 such cases were registered in India. The number grew to 1.49 lakh in 2014 and three lakh in 2015, finally doubling in 2016.

tech Updated: Aug 09, 2017 08:55 IST
Danger of cyber crime is looming large
Danger of cyber crime is looming large(Representative Photo)

A study conducted by IIT-Kanpur experts has revealed an alarming rise in cyber crimes across the country in the last one year.

Senior scientists Manindra Agarwal and Sandeep Shukla, the brains behind the exercise, pointed out that the country needs to upgrade its defences “without any delay” because the risk of cyber crime has doubled. They have submitted the study to the central government, and briefed the parliamentary committee on finance in this regard.

The study, which recommended the expedition of the Computer Emergency Response System (CERS) project for the financial sector, said: “Almost all financial institutions, banks and online transactions are vulnerable to cyber crime. Digital wallets like Paytm and BHIM, which gained prominence after demonetisation, were found unsafe during the research.”

The CERS project was proposed in the Union budget unveiled by the central government.

The experts said as the government was pushing for Aadhaar-based financial transactions, checking the unauthorised use of its database should be a priority. They termed recent leakages of Aadhaar data as a matter of concern.

Cyber crimes had been rising constantly till 2013, when 71,780 such cases were registered in India. The number grew to 1.49 lakh in 2014 and three lakh in 2015, finally doubling in 2016.

The report stated that the websites of financial institutions and government establishments were particularly vulnerable to attacks. “The danger of cyber crime is looming large on the defence, education and telecom sectors. Around 164 government websites were hacked in 2015,” it added.

Agarwal and Shukla noted that while the government initiated a number of post-demonetisation programmes aimed at digitising the economy, the cyber-security centres set up by the Reserve Bank of India were found lacking on several fronts.

The Reserve Bank of India has often approached premier technical institutes, including IIT-Kanpur, for expert opinion on cyber centres. However, they are unable to engage on cyber-security research due to lack of experts. Sources said there were just three to four cyber-security experts across all the IITs in India, and two of them were based at the Kanpur facility.

“The government and private sector partnership system in cyber security also lacks experts. Such partnership centres require updated technology and highly skilled cyber experts,” the study said,

advising Indian banks and government agencies to engage top cyber-security experts for creating a layer of advanced protection that was missing in most financial institutions.

The report also pointed out that the Computer Emergency Response Team-India, formed to handle cyber exigencies, is in need of an immediate revamp because it does not have sufficient inter-disciplinary connections.