200% increase in cyber incidents in last two months, says top PMO official

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Updated: July 06, 2020 9:58 PM

Chief information security officer in the Prime Minister's Office Gulshan Rai said people are "mindlessly" downloading unverified applications which may lack security features.

cyber attack, india cyber attack, PMO, cyber crime, phishingThere are dedicated agencies which are monitoring the situation and also preventing the attacks, chief information security officer in the PMO Gulshan Rai said.

There has been a 200 per cent rise in cyber incidents in India in the last couple of months but there is no evidence that the cases increased due to the tensions between India and China, Chief Information Security Officer in the Prime Minister’s Office Gulshan Rai said on Monday.

“There have been larger cases of phishing, service issues and ransomware which have gone up. These cases have gone up not merely because of heightened tensions, these cases have gone up from January and February-end because of the culture of working from home,” he said.

During an interactive session organised by payments company EPS here, Rai also said that offices typically have necessary security measures taken in, and urged people to be more careful about what they download and stick to verified applications itself.

“It is certainly true that during the last couple of months, the cyber incidents (like) hacking systems have gone up significantly. Somebody may say more than 200 per cent (increase), that’s the figure which is available,” he said.

“… there is no evidence as of now that the attacks have gone up due to the tensions between the two countries (India and China),” he added.

He was responding to a query by a reporter that after the violent faceoff between India and China, there were a lot of reports that cyber attacks would increase on India’s infrastructure and banking services.

Rai said there are dedicated agencies which are monitoring the situation and preventing the attacks.

Ties between India and China have hit a new low following the violent clashes in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, which left 20 Indian army personnel dead. India has also banned 59 Chinese apps citing security concerns.

To a question on reliance on Chinese products, he said China is a world leader in manufacturing and everyone buys from the country knowing that they are vulnerable.

This is where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for self-reliance is crucial, Rai said, adding that other countries, including America and European nations, are also looking at ways of reducing dependence on China.

“I think in a couple of years, there will be a lot of shifting towards an Aatma Nirbhar programme. America, Europe as well, everyone is charged up. We need to take steps to check on the misuse or the misfunctioning of the Chinese systems and there are ways and means to do that,” he said.

In order to reduce incidents of fraud in banking, Rai suggested a method where the receiver of funds from online transfers is not able to withdraw the money for an hour.

He said there is a need to overhaul cyber security architecture at banks because of the rapid changes in technologies, even though a significant amount of ground has been covered in the past.

In cases of critical infrastructure like refineries and power plants, Rai said it is a blessing in disguise that much of such facilities in India are not connected to the wider internet but eventually efficiency needs will force them to get connected and there will be a need for better security at such facilities.

The incident at the atomic power station at Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam in 2019 was blown out of proportion by the media, he said, adding that systems connected to the internet and the plant operations were totally segregated there.

“The attack happened on the MIS system in the office, where the hackers have been able to reach and get the files and post it on the dark net. Our control system was safe and they are not connected on the internet,” he said.

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