India vulnerable to cyber crime, must upgrade defence: Study
TNN | Updated: Jul 31, 2017, 11:19 AM IST
Demonetisation and subsequent push for digitisation has escalated risks relating to cyber crime, an IIT Kanpur study said.
According to study, India needs to urgently upgrade its defences by setting up a cyber security commission.
The study said attacks from the ‘Equation group’ infected India’s telecom and military sectors.
NEW DELHI: Demonetisation and the subsequent push for digitisation has escalated risks relating to cyber crime and India needs to urgently upgrade its defences by setting up a cyber security commission on the lines of the Atomic Energy and Space Commissions, according to an IIT Kanpur study shared with Parliament's committee on finance.
Noting that the government has initiated a number of programmes to enhance the participation of citizens in the fully digitalised economy, the study said cyber security centres set up by the Reserve Bank of India would be insufficient. "While RBI centres often come to IITs such as IIT-K for expert opinion, IITs do not engage in relevant research on cyber security," the study said.
Incidents of cyber crime in India are rising sharply, recording an increase of over 100% in 2015 from 2014. The number grew from 71,780 in 2013 to 1.49 lakh in 2014 to 3 lakh in 2015.
The study said attacks from the 'Equation group' — which WikiLeaks reports said was a clandestine CIA and NSA programme — infected India's telecom and military sectors and research institutes.
The committee was briefed by Profs Manindra Agrawal and Sandeep Shukla from IIT Kanpur.
The study pointed out that since the government was pushing Aadhaar-based financial transactions, securing the Aadhaar database against unauthorised usage must be looked at carefully.
It has come to light that certain banks were making hundreds of transactions on the Aadhaar numbers of unsuspecting citizens.
Cyber attacks affected over 3 million ATM, debit cards in 2016 Recent revelations about leakage of Aadhaar data and corresponding transaction data are serious concerns as the government is integrating Aadhaar number to various services," the study said.
Post-demonetisation, digital wallets such as PayTM and BHIM gained prominence.
However, with increase in online transactions, last year also saw cyber attacks that compromised more than 3 million ATM and debit cards through Hitachi-engineered ATM machine hacking.
The experts said a wider net needed to be cast by the Indian banking system and the government to engage cyber security experts from top institutes as an advanced layer of protection was missing in most financial institutions.
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Quoting a report, IIT-K experts said India may need $4 billion investment in the private-public model.
In their recommendations, experts said companies must have a chief cyber security officer and data systems should function on a need-to-know basis.
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The experts felt that existing cyber security frameworks like CERT-IN was inadequate as there were insufficient inter-disciplinary connections and the government-private sector partnership was neither deep enough nor did it provide the required expertise.
Roland Folger, the head of Mercedes Benz in India, has raised doubts over the government's intention to entirely switch over to electric vehicles by 2030, saying that the cumulative pollution due to electric cars is higher than BS4 vehicles. Folger said that a large por tion of the electricity used to power electric cars is produced using fossil fuels, which pollute the environment to an even higher degree.
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"So far, no one has been able to dispute the fact that electric vehicles would be dirtier than a Bharat Stage 4 vehicle," Folger told TOI as he questioned the government's target of having an entire fleet run on electricity by 2030. "How can it make sense? I think there will be an equal distribution of around 30% for petrol, diesel and electric. That would make a lot of sense."
The Mercedes India head said that nearly 65% of electricity in the country is produced using sources such as gas, oil, and coal. "... those power plants do not have any cleansing filters or whatever. They blow everything up in the air, and that's why they can produce electric power for very cheap."
Also, the low electricity prices may not hold on for long, especially with increased usage by vehicles owners. On the other hand, the price of diesel and other fuels will go down with less usage across the world, making them more affordable and desirable. Folger also said that it will be expensive for the Indian economy to make investments into cleanerrenewable power sources or charging stations at the pace at which the demand for power will come. "The investments into a nuclear power plant, or into greener technologies like wind, hydro and solar, can only be re covered by charging more for the electricity... electricity price could easily become more expensive than the equivalent in diesel. So, what are people going to buy?" He said developed economies, including countries such as Germany , have not been able to afford the transition."It doesn't happen in Europe, and now Europe has tonnes of more money for these kind of issues, but it still doesn't work... India is still a country that does not have these kinds of budgets, even post-GST."
Pointing to large amount of CO2 emissions during the manufacture of batteries, Folger said, "... the production of the battery leads to heavy CO2 emissions ... that it takes nearly 7-8 years until they can lay out their benefits." He said that safe disposal of batteries will be another critical issue as the government pushes for electric vehicles.