Expressing concern over spying via devices imported from ‘not-so-friendly country’, minister of state for IT Alphons Kannanthanam on Friday called for a re-look at the government’s procurement process which favours the lowest bidders. “I am a little scared about lot of equipments being imported into India from not-so-friendly country. I hope you understand what I mean. I don’t have to name them,” Kannanthanam said while speaking at Cyber Surakshit Bharat CISO Conclave. He said equipment from the unfriendly nation can be switched off with a press of a button or voice command and there is a need to cleverly deal with it. “We buy the cheapest equipment which comes from somewhere. Do we need to really relook at our L1 (lowest bidder) procedures, where we buy from the lowest quoted guys, whose objective possibly is to spy on you and our country? I think we need to relook at it at this point of time, ” Kannanthanam said. Spying these days, he said, has become easier with availability of new devices that spy on somebody all the time.
Broadly, like a number of countries, India imports various communications devices and infrastructure from Chinese firms which are known for aggressive pricing. The minister was speaking at the launch of Cyber Surakshit Bharat where government along with industry will train chief information security officers (CISOs) at various establishments. “We have CISOs in lot of institution. We have them in 60 ministries and department of government of India, 238 banks have appointed CISO and 45 other financial institutions have done so. I think every institution needs to do so,” Kannanthanam said.