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416 crores allocated this year to strengthen nation’s cybersecurity, here are some measures taken so far: IT Ministry

Amidst rising cyberattacks in India, the ministry said that government agencies were formulating crisis management plans, holding mock drills, and continuously monitoring cyber threats.  

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) revealed in response to a parliamentary question that it has allocated 416 crores this year toward strengthing the nation’s cybersecurity. The answer was given in response to questions posed by BJP Lok Sabha MPs Arjun Lal Meena and Sunil Kumar Singh.

Although this is up from the 310 crores allocated in the financial year 2020-2021 and the 162 crores allocated in 2019-2020, it is still only about 4 per cent of the total budget allocated to the ministry.

Why it matters? Cyberattacks have been rampantly increasing over the last two years. The government revealed yesterday that over 6 lakh cybersecurity incidents were observed by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) in the first half of this year. There have been multiple reports claiming that critical infrastructure was targetted in recent months. The measures put in place by the government and the budget allocated by it toward cybersecurity could play a critical role in improving the nation’s cyber defences.

Measures taken by government to improve cybersecurity

In three separate parliamentary responses (response 1, response 2, response 3), MeitY said that the following measures have been put in place to enhance the cybersecurity situation and prevent cyberattacks:

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  1. Continuous monitoring by CERT-In: CERT-In has in place a 24 x 7 cybersecurity incident response mechanism and issues alerts and advisories regarding the latest cyber threats and countermeasures to protect computers, networks, and data on regular basis.
  2. Early warning alerts: CERT-In shares early warning threat intelligence alerts with over 700 organisations across sectors to enable active threat prevention.
  3. Guidelines and training for CISOs: The government has issued guidelines for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) regarding their key roles and responsibilities for securing applications/infrastructure and compliance. CERT-In conducts regular training programmes for network administrators and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) of government and critical sector organisations regarding securing the IT infrastructure and mitigating cyber attacks. During the years 2020 and 2021 (up to June), 15 and 10 training programmes have been conducted covering 708 and 646 participants respectively.
  4. Cyber Crisis Management Plan: The government has formulated a Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism for implementation by all Ministries/Departments of Central Government, State Governments and their organisations and critical sectors.
  5. Cybersecurity workshops: CERT-In is regularly conducting workshops for Ministries, Departments, States, UTs and organisations to sensitise them about the cybersecurity threat landscape and enable them to prepare and implement the CCMP. 114 CCMP workshops have been conducted till July 2021 by CERT-In.
  6. Mock cybersecurity drills: Cybersecurity mock drills and exercises are conducted regularly to enable assessment of cybersecurity posture and preparedness of organisations in Government and critical sectors. 59 such drills have so far been conducted by CERT-In where 565 organisations from different States and sectors such as Finance, Defence, Power, Telecom, Transport, Energy, Space, IT/ITeS, etc participated.
  7. Malware analysis centre: The government is operating the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre). The centre is providing detection of malicious programs and free tools to remove the same.
  8. National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC): The government has set up the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) to generate necessary situational awareness of existing and potential cybersecurity threats. Phase-I of NCCC is operational.
  9. International coordination: CERT-In also co-operates, works and coordinates incident response measures with international CERTs, overseas organisations and service providers as well as law enforcement agencies.
  10. Empanelled security auditors: The government has empanelled 58 security auditing organisations to support and audit the implementation of information security best practices.
  11. Continuous monitoring at NIC: 24×7 security monitoring centre is in place at National Informatics Centre (NIC) for detecting and responding to security incidents related to NIC infrastructure and data centres. Additionally for enhancing data security, periodic security audits and vulnerability assessments of resources are performed followed by subsequent hardenings.
  12. Cybersecurity audits for government sites: All government websites and applications are audited with respect to cybersecurity prior to their hosting. The auditing of the websites and applications is conducted on a regular basis after hosting as well.
  13. Capacity building exercises: National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) has undertaken several initiatives towards capacity building exercises for Critical Information Infrastructure Protected Systems.
  14. Real-time threat intelligence for critical infrastructure: The analytics centre at NCIIPC provides near real-time threat intelligence and situation awareness based on which regular alerts and advisories are sent to Critical Information Infrastructure/Protected System entities to avert cyber-attacks.
  15. Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA) programme: So far, a total of 18,926 Government officials have been trained in various short term courses in the area of information security. Under this programme, MeitY is offering generic training (awareness level) and foundation training (advanced level) online in Cyber Security for officers of Central Government Ministries/Departments. A total number of 6347 officers from various departments have attended generic training (awareness level) and 569 officers have successfully completed foundation training (advanced level).
  16. Cyber Surakshit Bharat (CSB) programme: 22 batches of deep-dive cybersecurity training have been conducted in partnership with an industry consortium. 880 CISOs/IT officials from Government, PSUs, Banks and Government organisations have attended the CSB programme.
  17. National Cyber Crime portal: The government has launched a National Cyber Crime reporting portal namely www.cybercrime.gov.in to enable the public to report incidents pertaining to all types of cybercrimes with a special focus on cyber crimes against women and children. Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been designated as the nodal point in the fight against cybercrime.

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