Making smart cities cyber-safe

By: | Published: September 28, 2015 12:14 AM

Symantec sees good business prospects for its IT security solutions from the government’s Digital India and Smart City projects

No one is immune from cybersecurity threats, but it is generally seen that establishments in the government sector are somewhat reluctant to properly invest in cybersecurity solutions for the simple reason that it is not high on their priority list. The fact is that cybersecurity attacks are impacting everyone from the home user to the business user. These attacks come out of the blue and they are crippling and they are devastating.

In recent months, there has been a gradual shift in government circles and cybersecurity is high on their agenda.

This is due to the fact that the growing trend of digitisation across industry segments, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon rapidly becoming popular and the growing occurrence of regular cyber breaches are posing critical challenges. IT security players, such as Symantec, see these developments as an opportunity as well as challenge.

The Mountain View, California-based Symantec, which acquired Veritas, a major player in the data backup and storage software market, in 2005 for about $13 billion has decided to sell the latter for about $8 billion to a private equity investment firm, The Carlyle Group and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC. With this sale, Symantec is now keen to get back to what it does the best—managing cybersecurity. Company’s senior officials are now betting high on India for growth. They see huge potential in the government’s Digital India and Smart Cities projects and enterprise security segment in the country.

“Both from enterprise and government standpoint, cyber threats are on the rise. India is actually in the top three target in the world, primarily fueled by enterprise mobility and government’s digitisation programmes. Now, people are becoming more internet-savvy but the internet penetration also works like a magnet for scammers. Although, there are lot of tech-savvy people in India, but it also has a very large non-tech savvy lot who are keen to go on the internet. Hence, there is a growing need to ensure cyber security,” senior vice president—enterprise product, Symantec, Amit Jasuja told FE in a recent interview.

Across the globe there is a gradual move to adopt the cloud and mobile platform. Companies are moving their non-core data to cloud and going forward, the difference between on-premise data and on cloud data will further go down. This is leading to newer avenues for security exploitation. To address the unique need of hybrid situation in which some data is on-premise and some of it is in the cloud, Symantec has reformulated its strategy; it is working towards an unified security strategy which aims to cover four key dimension of modern day cybersecurity challenges—threat protection, information protection, enhance security services and security analytics platform.

On the government front, Symantec is keen to be part of Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives. It is working with some of the local players, who are bidding for Smart Cities projects, to enable them on the design of the gateways for connected devices in smart cities and help them solve some of the basic questions such as how the gateway will look like, how will it be secured and how will it authenticate devices.

Symantec has also partnered with Nasscom to train over 50,000 cyber security professionals over the next few years.

As part of this initiative, Symantec will facilitate internships and placement of certified candidates and support the IT industry body in curriculum development for five job roles in line with the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) along with the master training programme. It also intends to fund the scholarship for 1,000 women undertaking cybersecurity certification by Nasscom. “These initiatives are an attempt to bridge the cybersecurity workforce gap that exists in the country. It is an extension of the Symantec cyber career connection (SC3), a programme launched last year to attract and train young adults and women in the field of cyber security,” said Jasuja.

Symantec has made large investment in India. It has five offices, over 4,000 employees, about 20% of its global workforces are spread across key cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. The security firm also has a key security intelligence installations like security response centre in Pune and security operations centre in Chennai, servicing global and local customers.

To the question of why people would need Symantec at a time when companies such as Microsoft are bringing embedded security with products, the Symantec VP pointed out that large companies have been doing security for a long time. “However, with the evolution of cloud, smartphone and apps, there are different devices in an enterprise environment. Hence a business enterprise needs a unified security strategy and therefore security companies like Symantec are better placed to serve the enterprise goals.”

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