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Posts Tagged ‘cyber security’

Before getting ready to settle into the plush Governor’s House in Calcutta for the next five years, outgoing National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has let the cat out of the bag by revealing that Chinese hackers have targeted the computers at the Prime Minister’s Office and other top security establishments. We have not been told how serious the matter is, or how successful the hackers were in extracting useful information, but the mere fact that an attempt was made and has been acknowledged by the NSA himself raises serious concerns over cyber security at the highest levels of government. It is also not known for sure if the Chinese government is behind these activities, but one can perhaps hazard a guess without straying too much off the mark.

The Chinese government is swimming in unholy waters. On the one hand, it is trying to shield its own people from knowledge of the atrocities committed in the past by its communist regime by blocking out specific content from internet search engines, while on the other, it is going out of its way to fish out sensitive information from the systems of rights activists (as Google claims) and now from computers in the PMO. It won’t give, but it will only take. The same might be said for its land-grabbing tendencies along the Sino-Indian border.

Be that as it may, defence remains our best and only offence in such matters, which brings us to the all-important question – Is India prepared to tackle cyber espionage in the 21st century? Mr Chidambaram seems to be doing an excellent work in tightening up security in the country after 26/11, but cyber terrorism is a very different and perhaps more potent threat today, and needs to be dealt with on a war footing. India boasts of a thriving IT industry, and there is no reason why it should lag behind on cyber security as well. The Prime Minister has shown his ingenuity by appointing an IT czar at the helm of the ID cards project, which would otherwise have languished like most government schemes if assigned to a minister or a civil servant.  He can show the same ingenuity in the matter of dealing with cyber incursions, and come up with an out-of-the-box idea to show the way. How about a Narayana Murthy as Minister for Cyber Security?

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