House panel calls for manpower push to boost cybersecurity
The Parliamentary panel on information technology has adopted a report, suggesting an urgent need to boost manpower at the National Informatics Centre (NIC), people familiar with the matter said.
The centre deals with all government websites for secure exchanges, and additional funding for the Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In) to ensure a cyber-safe environment.
In its report adopted last week, the committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, noted that NIC provides information and communications technology support to the government at all levels – central ministries/departments, 37 States/Union territories and 720+ districts.
“NICNET, the nationwide network, comprises over 1,000 LANs of government offices and more than five lakh nodes across over 8,000 locations. The data centres of NIC host more than 8,000 websites of the government in a secure environment. The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has informed the committee that NIC’s main focus is in providing the latest state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure. NIC under MeitY provides e-Governance support, state of the art solutions to the central government,” one of the persons cited above said on condition of anonymity.
NIC plays a pivotal role in the development and implementation of digital platforms and applications to ensure delivery of government services to the citizens, the person said.
The House panel, in its report, noted that budget constraints have caused the ministry to upgrade its infrastructure in a phased manner, the person added.
The House panel, however, also found that the organisation is facing challenges in terms of manpower and basic infrastructure. “The committee is disheartened to learn that despite their recommendation (in their last report in 2021) to undertake a comprehensive review of the manpower requirement and infrastructure needs of NIC, the ministry has done little to address the above issues. The committee once again recommends the ministry to look into the issue of manpower shortage in NIC. With regard to infrastructure,” the person said.
The report is yet to be tabled in Parliament.
Since 2015, there has been a steep rise in cybersecurity incidents, including phishing and hacking of mail (NIC accounts) of government officials and social media accounts. Last year, MeITY informed Parliament that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) “reported 49,455, 50,362, 53,117, 208,456, 394,499 and 696,938 cyber-security incidents during the year 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 (till August), respectively”.