Thursday 24 March 2011

Are We Prepared For Cyber Terrorism In India?

This is the updated version of our previous article on the same topic. Since the writing of the original article, many crucial changes have taken place. This article intends to cover those areas as well.

Indian government is frequently asked are we prepared for cyber terrorism in India. This is a question to which our government cannot answer in affirmative. The reason for the same is not difficult to deduce.

India has neither a legal framework to deal with cyber terrorism nor sound cyber security capabilities to fight the same in cyber space. There is no national ICT crisis management plan of India that is addressing the menace of cyber terrorism in India. The critical infrastructure of India has become vulnerable due to inadequate cyber security. This vulnerability can not only be exploited by cyber criminals but also be the cyber terrorists.

We have no cyber security policy of India that is addressing the requirements to deal with cyber attacks and cyber terrorism. Further, even the homeland security of India needs to be strengthened in order to deal with cyber attacks, cyber terrorism, cyber espionage, etc. Further, we have no cyber security laws in India as well.

Of late, cyber terrorism has received lots of attention all over the world. This is so because computers are being increasingly used in day to day lives of human beings. Further, even the governmental dealing and functions have been computerised to a large extent. In some case, though wrongly and as a bad policy decision, strategic information is also stored on computers of crucial governmental departments.

For instance, Indian computer systems located at crucial and strategic locations, including defence forces and prime minister’s office (PMO) India, have been systematically targeted and in many cases successfully breached as well in the past.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India, while imputing the responsibility for cracking of strategic computers in India to a particular nation is premature yet India must take the issues of cyber war and cyber terrorism very seriously.

So how far is India ready for issues like cyber terrorism? According to Dalal cyber terrorism is becoming a big nuisance for India and India has to be technologically as well as legally sound to tackle this menace. There is an emergent need to amend the cyber law of India, i.e. Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000) in this regard as a single provision is not sufficient to tackle cyber terrorism in India, suggests Dalal.

There is no second opinion of the fact that cyber law of India needs urgent amendments. However, both law ministry of India and department of information technology are sitting upon this issue. They seem to be in no hurry to remedy the inadequacies of Indian cyber law and strengthening the same. Since it is the primary responsibility of the Legislative Department of Law Ministry to update laws, the initiative must start from their side, suggests Dalal.

However, for the time being, it seems that India is not yet ready for meeting the challenges of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.