‘Link cyber terrorism to India’s overall counter-terror capabilities’

May 16th, 2012 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Efforts at countering cyber-terrorism should be linked to India’s overall capabilities to fight terror, a report released Wednesday by a defence ministry-funded think tank said, suggesting that the effort should be coordinated by the home ministry.

The report comes even as the government is on the backfoot in dealing with strident criticism from non-Congress ruled states on operationalising the National Counter Terrorism Centre, one of the measures suggested in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, saying it goes against the grain of federalism.

The report, released by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, also recommends the creation of a Cyber Coordination Centre to “serve as a clearing house, assessing information arriving in real time, and assigning responsibilities to the agencies concerned, as and when required.”

“Cyber security is a complex issue that cuts across multiple domains and calls for multi-dimensional, multi-layered initiatives and responses. It has proved a challenge for governments because different domains are typically administered through siloed ministries and departments. The task is made all the more difficult by the inchoate and diffusive nature of the threats and the inability to frame an adequate response in the absence of tangible perpetrators,” the report notes.

To address this, the report says the National Security Advisor, through the National Information Board, “should be put in charge of formulating and implementing of the country’s cyber security policy within the ambit of a larger national security policy”.

The 95-page report by a 10-member task force of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, headed by cyber expert Nitin Desai, has urged the raising of a Cyber Command, building up offensive capabilities and creation of Cyber Territorial Army battalions which can provide “surge capability” to bolster the country’s resources during critical periods or in the event of hostilities.

Among the other recommendations:

. Cyber security education, R&D; and training should be an integral part of the national cyber security strategy.

. Special emphasis should be placed on building adequate technical capabilities in cryptology, digital signatures, testing for malware in embedded systems, fabrication of specialized chips for defence and intelligence functions.

. Cyber security should be mandatory in computer science curriculum and even separate programmes on cyber security should be contemplated.

. Emphasis should be placed on developing and implementing standards and best practices in government functioning as well as in the private sector.

. The government should launch a National Mission in Cyber Forensics to facilitate prosecution of cyber criminals and cyber terrorists.

. Since international cooperation is crucial to handle cyber crime and cyberterrorism and managing risks in cyberspace, the government should consider joining the European Convention on Cyber Crime.

. The impact of new social networking media and convergence of technologies on society including business, economy and national security should be studied with the help of relevant experts. It should be ensured that the issues of privacy and human rights are not lost sight of and a proper balance is maintained between national security imperatives and human rights and privacy.

The report also speaks of the need for the government to launch a special drive to implement best practices in the infrastructure sector and provide budgetary support for this and encourage the growth of trained and qualified experts to deal with the highly specialized field of cyber security.

It says that the government should examine the impact of cloud computing and wireless technologies and formulate appropriate policies, make it mandatory for all government and private enterprises to have a Chief Information Security Officer responsible for cyber security, establish a cyber range to test cyber readiness and establish an online mechanism for recording cyber crime related complaints.

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