Author Archives: B Singh

National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) Of India Needs Rejuvenation

National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) Of India Needs RejuvenationThese days more and more critical services are connected with and controlled by computers and other information and communication technology (ICT). As a result they are also vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks from around the world. Malware have evolved to such an extent that many times they are not traced for years and the cyber attacks keep on stealing sensitive and crucial information. This is a troublesome notion when critical information infrastructures are involved as the stakes are very high there.

We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) believe that critical infrastructure protection in India (pdf) needs a more focused and extensive cyber security protection. We have recently provided cyber security trends of India 2017 here and here and even there we have mentioned the significance of critical infrastructure protection (CIP) in India. Indian government has still to do extensive work regarding ensuring cyber security in general and critical infrastructure protection in particular.

But in a very positive development, Indian government has already established the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) of India. The NCIIPC is also working to ensure robust cyber security for Indian critical infrastructure. However, for reasons best known to Indian government, NCIIPC seems to be a half hearted approach so far. Even the website of NCIIPC has little to offer regarding scope, nature, expertise and purpose of NCIIPC. We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) believe that NCIIPC needs to play a more pro active and extensive role in present cyber security scenario of India.

Till the end of 2016, the cyber security infrastructure of India is not in a good shape. We have to cover a long road before India can be considered to be even moderately cyber secure. While India can afford to be little bit lax regarding general cyber security yet cyber security of CIP needs urgent attention of Indian government. For instance, using telemedicine and online healthcare systems without robust cyber security is inviting troubles of all sorts. In fact, healthcare industry and its infrastructure can safely be considered to be a critical infrastructure. Similarly, banks in India must be treated as critical infrastructure and cyber security must be accordingly managed. Mass usage of digital payments without cyber security would create lots of trouble for India in the long run. In these circumstances, role of NCIIPC must be more pro active than the present one.

There are many startups and entrepreneurs that would explore fintech and critical infrastructure related business activities in 2017. They would need strong cyber law and cyber security laws on the one hand and an authority to protect their critical infrastructures on the other. Similarly, cyber security breach disclosure norms would also be required so that CERT-In and NCIIPC can protect Indian infrastructures and systems in a better manner.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) requests Indian government to consider these suggestions on priority basis.

Guidance On Cyber Resilience For Financial Market Infrastructures

Guidance On Cyber Resilience For Financial Market InfrastructuresCyber security has become indispensable for all business activities these days and financial market infrastructures (FMIs) are no different in this regard. FMI is defined as a multilateral system among participating institutions, including the operator of the system, used for the purposes of clearing, settling, or recording payments, securities, derivatives, or other financial transactions. FMIs play a critical role in the financial system and the broader economy and contribute to maintaining and promoting financial stability and economic growth. At the same time, the FMIs also concentrate the risk and, if not properly managed, FMIs can be sources of financial shocks or a major channel through which these shocks are transmitted across financial markets.

Therefore, it is imperative that cyber security of financial market infrastructures (FMIs) must be ensured by all stakeholders including Indian government, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Recently, the RBI has prescribed a cyber security framework for banks of India that has to be implemented till 30-09-2016. However, RBI is well known for its lax implementation of cyber security related issues in India and this deadline could prove to be another paper deadline only. Similarly, the SEBI has expanded the ambit of its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to include cyber security of the markets. Indian government is also working in the direction of ensuring cyber security in India but its efforts are too slow and too late in this regard.

In a latest international development in this regard, the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) have published the Guidance on cyber resilience for financial market infrastructures (pdf) (“Cyber Guidance”). This builds on an earlier version of the report that underwent a three-month public consultation.

The safe and efficient operation of FMIs is essential to maintaining and promoting financial stability and economic growth. The Cyber Guidance aims to add momentum to and instil international consistency in the industry’s ongoing efforts to enhance its cyber resilience. This includes the ability of FMIs to pre-empt cyber attacks, respond rapidly and effectively to them, and achieve faster and safer target recovery objectives if the attacks succeed. In addition, the Cyber Guidance provides authorities with a set of internationally agreed guidelines to support consistent and effective oversight and supervision of FMIs in the area of cyber risk.

At its core, the Cyber Guidance requires FMIs to instil a culture of cyber risk awareness and to demonstrate ongoing re-evaluation and improvement of their cyber resilience posture at every level within the organisation. Furthermore, while the guidance is directly aimed at FMIs, it is important for them to take on an active role in reaching out to their participants and other relevant stakeholders to promote understanding and support of resilience objectives and their implementation. Effective solutions may require collaboration between FMIs and their stakeholders as they seek to strengthen their own cyber resilience.

The Cyber Guidance does not establish additional standards for FMIs beyond those already set out in the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures (PFMI). Instead, the document is intended to be supplemental to the PFMI, primarily in the context of governance (Principle 2), the framework for the comprehensive management of risks (Principle 3), settlement finality (Principle 8), operational risk (Principle 17) and FMI links (Principle 20).

Healthcare Cyber Security Issues In India For Businesses And Entrepreneurs

Healthcare industry of India is facing novel techno legal issues that were absent few years back. These include issues like techno legal regulatory compliances, cyber security requirements, cyber breach disclosure requirements, obligations of directors of healthcare companies for cyber law and cyber security, privacy compliance, data protection requirements (pdf), etc. This article is discussing the cyber security issues of healthcare industry of India that is equally applicable to healthcare industry of other jurisdictions.

As healthcare industry has started using information and communication technology (ICT) in the form of telemedicine, online pharmacies, e-health, m-health, etc, cyber criminals have found that this industry is a goldmine and a money minting industry. Sophisticated malware are now targeting healthcare industry in the form of ransomware and information stealing malware. These malware are so sophisticated that even cyber security products and services are ineffective against the same.

There is no doubt that ICT has enabled the healthcare industry but at the same time it is also true that there is an increasingly high risk of healthcare cyber security attacks. Healthcare companies of all sizes need to ensure that they are not only regularly reviewing policies and procedures when it comes to privacy protection and data security but also that they are implementing the right cyber security best practices to keep healthcare related information secure. Ransomware is of particular concern to healthcare industry as sensitive healthcare information is encrypted and decrypted only once the ransom is paid.

Healthcare industry is not spending adequate amount on cyber security and is also not good at acquiring cyber law and cyber crimes related knowledge. This has made the healthcare organisations vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks. The overall impact of cyber attacks on the hospitals and healthcare systems is estimated to be nearly six billion per year. Furthermore, these organisations face internal threats due to factors such as the use of cloud services, insecure networks, employee negligence, bring your own device (BYOD), lack of internal identification and security systems, stolen devices with unencrypted files, etc. Human beings are the weakest link in the cyber security environment and healthcare organisations are no exception to this rule.

Presently, healthcare cyber security market consists of protection against malware, ddos, advanced persistent threat, spyware, lost and stolen devices, etc. However, the list is just illustrative and the cyber security requirements are as vast as are the options available to the cyber criminals.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) strongly recommends that the healthcare industry must work on three fronts i.e. formulation of techno legal policies, adoption of best cyber security practices and a mechanism to ensure cyber breach disclosure and coordination with the statutory and government authorities. If any of these three stages is missing, then the concerned healthcare organisation is at graver risk of cyber attacks and loss of sensitive healthcare information.

Analysis Of National Cyber Security Policy Of India 2013 (NCSP-2013) And Indian Cyber Security Infrastructure

Analysis Of National Cyber Security Policy Of India 2013 (NCSP-2013) And Indian Cyber Security InfrastructureThe National Cyber Security Policy of India 2013 (NCSP 2013) (PDF) was announced by Indian Government in 2013. The policy aims to build a secure and resilient cyberspace for citizens, business and government. Perry4Law Organisation and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) welcome this initiative of Indian government that can help in strengthening of Indian cyber security infrastructure.

The mission of the policy is to protect information and information infrastructure in cyberspace, build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber threat, reduce vulnerabilities and minimise damage from cyber incidents through a combination of institutional structures, people, processes, technology and cooperation.

The objectives of the policy are:

(a) To create a secure cyber ecosystem in the country, generate adequate trust and confidence in IT system and transactions in cyberspace and thereby enhance adoption of IT in all sectors of the economy.

(b) To create an assurance framework for design of security policies and promotion and enabling actions for compliance to global security standards and best practices by way of conformity assessment (Product, process, technology & people).

(c) To strengthen the Regulatory Framework for ensuring a Secure Cyberspace Ecosystem.

(d) To enhance and create National and Sectoral level 24×7 mechanism for obtaining strategic information regarding threats to ICT infrastructure, creating scenarios for response, resolution and crisis management through effective predictive, preventive, protective response and recovery actions.

(e) To improve visibility of integrity of ICT products and services by establishing infrastructure for testing & validation of security of such product.

(f) To create workforce for 5, 00,000 professionals skilled in next 5 years through capacity building skill development and training.

(g) To provide fiscal benefit to businesses for adoption of standard security practices and processes.

(h) To enable Protection of information while in process, handling, storage & transit so as to safeguard privacy of citizen’s data and reducing economic losses due to cyber crime or data theft.

(i) To enable effective prevention, investigation and prosecution of cyber crime and enhancement of law enforcement capabilities through appropriate legislative intervention.

Some of the shortcomings of the policy are:

(1) The declared cyber security policy has proved to be a paper work alone with no actual implementation till date.

(2) The cyber security trends and developments in India 2013 (PDF) have listed the shortcomings of Indian cyber security policy in general and Indian cyber security initiatives in particular.

(3) Indian cyber security policy has failed to protect civil liberties of Indians including privacy rights.

(4) Civil liberties protection in cyberspace has been blatantly ignored by Indian government and e-surveillance projects have been kept intact by the Narendra Modi government.

(5) The offensive and defensive cyber security capabilities of India are still missing.

(6) India is considered to be a sitting duck in cyberspace and cyber security field and the proposed cyber security policy has failed to change this position.

In short, India is not at all cyber prepared despite the contrary claims and declared achievements and the cyber security policy is just another policy document with no actual implementation and impact so far. Nevertheless, the policy is a positive step in the right direction.

Some of the related areas where Indian cyber security initiatives needs strengthening include international cyber security cooperation (PDF), critical ICT infrastructure protection (PDF), formulation of a cyber warfare policy of India (PDF), formulation of an encryption policy of India (PDF), reenactment of Indian cyber and telegraph laws, etc.

Meanwhile, India has been witnessing some new concerns and areas in the cyber field. For instance, cyber insurance, participation at Wassenaar Arrangement, intelligence agencies reforms, modernisation of police force, cyber security of banks, etc are some of the recent areas and developments that India has witnessed. Similarly, establishment of national cyber coordination centre (NCCC) of India and national critical information infrastructure protection centre of India (NCIIPC) are also good initiatives on the part of Indian government. The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) has also been entrusted with the duty to protect critical infrastructures of India.

The cyber security challenges in India would increase in the future as India has adopted the Digital India initiative and India must be well prepared to deal with the same. The sooner it is done the better it would be for the interest of our nation.

National Cyber Security And Coordination Centre (NCSC) Of India Under Consideration

Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Telecommunications and Information TechnologyCyber security has never been a priority for Indian government. The cyber security trends and developments in India 2013 (PDF) have depicted this sad position of India cyber security. At this stage when the national cyber security issues are ignored by India it is very difficult to manage international legal issues of cyber attacks. The conflict of laws in cyberspace has added their own techno legal complicities to this situation. As a result India is considered to be a soft target and sitting duck in cyberspace.

Now there are some positive reports that cyber security in India would be strengthened. Cyber security has been made part and parcel of a larger initiative known as “Digital India”. In the past, a National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) of India was proposed by Indian government. However, it remained on books alone as it was never constituted till now.

In January 2014 the Congress Government decided to launch the NCCC. However, NCCC never saw the light of the day. Now BJP Government is planning to launch the NCCC very soon. We at Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) welcome this move of Narendra Modi Government. There would be inter-ministerial discussions, before sending the proposal to the Cabinet. The Government is expected to send the proposal to the Cabinet in the next 15 days.

The NCCC proposal is a significant development as both NCCC and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIPC) of India have failed to function properly so far. This has severely impacted the critical Infrastructure Protection in India (PDF). Perhaps, this is a good time to formulate Critical ICT Infrastructure Protection Policy of India as well. As an interim measure, it has been decided in the past that NTRO would protect the Critical ICT Infrastructures of India. A Tri Service Cyber Command for Armed Forces of India is also in pipeline.

Some policy decisions in the field of cyber security have already been taken by Congress Government. These include constitution of NCCC and NCIPC, formulation of a National Cyber Security Policy of India 2013 (NCSP 2013) and National Infrastructure Protection Plan in Thermal Power Sector of India, etc. The BJP Government is not doing anything new but making the efforts to implement exiting projects of Congress Government.

Of course, BJP Government can formulate and implement a working Cyber Attacks Crisis Management Plan of India, Cyber Warfare Policy of India (PDF), etc. Internet is full of unprotected and unsafe devices, SCADA Systems and computers and India has her own share of such unprotected devices. Cross border cyber crimes are also difficult to trace and resolve. The proposed NCCC and NCIPC would come handy in many cyber situations and we welcome the move and efforts of Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology in this regard.

Global Crackdown On Malware Blackshades Results In 90 Arrests Globally

Global Crackdown On Malware Blackshades Results In 90 Arrests GloballyHuman beings are the weakest link in cyber security chain and this was once again proved during the latest crackdown upon crackers and cyber criminals using the malware Blackshades. There were 700,000 estimated victims, whose computers have been hijacked by criminals using the Blackshades software. The crackdown was organised by law enforcement agencies of 19 countries around the world. This has also resulted in the arrest of 90 accused for allegedly using the malware. Among those arrested, in Moldova, was a Swedish hacker who was a co-creator of Blackshades.

Blackshades is another remote administration tool (RAT) that can compromise victim’s security and covertly activate his/her webcam. The modus operendi of infecting a victim’s computer is use of age old social engineering tactics using e-mail and other forms of electronic messages. Sending of a malicious link through e-mail and luring the victim to click the same is a common form of cyber attack that is very prevalent these days. Users of Blackshades also utilised this technique besides physically installing the malware wherever possible. The malware was used to commit various cyber crimes ranging from extortion to bank fraud.

Last week, watching it all play out were about two dozen FBI cyber crime investigators holed up in the New York FBI’s special operations center, high above lower Manhattan.  Rows of computer screens flickered with updates from police in Germany, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Investigators followed along in real time as hundreds of search warrants were executed and suspects were interviewed. The sweep, capping a two-year operation, is one of the largest global cyber crime crackdowns ever. It was coordinated so suspects didn’t have time to destroy evidence.

Malware like Blackshades are successful because many computer users do not update anti-virus software. Many click on links sent in messages on social media sites such as Facebook, or in email, without knowing what they are clicking on. In seconds, malware is downloaded. Often computer users have no idea infection has taken place.

Cyber Security Laws In India Needed

Cyber Security Laws In India NeededThe correlation between a legal framework and cyber security is not difficult to anticipate and conceptualise. Cyber security compliances require adherence to certain well established legal principles. The moment a cyber security breach occurs; many legal issues and compliance requirements are automatically invoked.

For instance, in a typical cyber attack, it becomes imperative to ascertain and find the originator of such attack. The requirements to engage in first instance analysis, e-discovery and cyber forensics also arise due to such cyber attack. The reporting requirement to the compliance and regulatory authorities also arise.

However, none of this applies to Indian companies and individuals that are facing cyber attacks no matter howsoever sophisticated and damaging such cyber attack are. In India companies and individuals are not reporting cyber security breaches and attacks to the government and its agencies. The cyber security trends and developments in India 2013 (PDF) short listed all these shortcomings of Indian cyber security initiatives.

The Indian government has in the past declared that cyber security breach disclosure norms of India would be formulated very soon. However, till now no action has been taken in this regard and companies and individuals are still not reporting cyber security breached to Indian government and its agencies.

For instance, cyber crimes and cyber attacks against banks of India is a very common phenomenon in India. However, banks of India are not only lax while maintaining cyber security but they are also not disclosing such cyber crimes and cyber attacks due to fear of adverse publicity and regulatory penalties. This is creating more problems for the bank customers in general and banking cyber security in India in particular.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) is the sole cyber law of India. However, it is not capable of forcing the companies and individuals to disclose cyber security breaches and cyber crimes. Nevertheless, the rules under the IT Act, 2000 prescribe cyber law due diligence (PDF), internet intermediary liability, reasonable cyber security practices, etc. they indirectly cover some aspects of cyber security disclosure norms. But they are not sufficient to meet the demands of present times.

Indian Parliament needs to enact a dedicated cyber security law of India that can cater all these regulatory and compliance requirements. Such a law needs to take into consideration techno legal requirements of cyber security. The sooner such a law is enacted the better it would be for the national interest of India as cyber security is an essential and integral part of the national security policy of India.

Cyber Attacks Are Targeting Bitcoin Users And Bitcoin Exchanges

Cyber Attacks Are Targeting Bitcoin Users And Bitcoin ExchangesCyber crimes and cyber attacks have taken a professional shape unlike traditional hobby based exercises. Now we have well organised crime syndicates that try their hands on anything that is lucrative and profit making. The latest to add to this list is the Bitcoins. The Bitcoins users are facing increased cyber attacks around the world and stealing of Bitcoins has become a normal phenomenon these days.

The Bitcoin exchanges around the world are facing numerous challenges. These include challenges from the point of view of laws, technical aspects, cyber security, etc. In India the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued an advisory cautioning Bitcoin users and Bitcoin exchanges of India of potential legal and security risks.

Cyber criminals have also realised the significance of Bitcoins as a potential virtual currency of the future. They have been using novel methods to steal Bitcoins from innocent users. In the absence of appropriate cyber security awareness and inadequate cyber security safeguards, Bitcoins ate stolen very frequently.

Third party applications are now bundled with illegal Bitcoins miners. .Recently, the E-Sports Entertainment LLC (ESEA) entered into a consent judgment for creating ESEA Botnet and violation of U.S. laws. Cyber criminals have also infected hundreds of thousands of computers with a malware known as “Pony” to steal Bitcoins and other digital currencies.

Thus, cyber security of Bitcoins exchanges and personal computers of Bitcoin users holding their virtual currency is a real challenge. Let us see how this highly volatile virtual currency would survive the sophisticated cyber attacks in the future.

Tri Service Cyber Command For Armed Forces Of India In Pipeline

Tri Service Cyber Command For Armed Forces Of India In PipelineCyber security in India is not upto the mark and as per the expectations. While the cyber attacks are becoming very targeted and highly sophisticated yet India has not made even the most basic efforts to secure its cyberspace. The cyber security trends and developments in India 2013 provided by Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) has also outlined many crucial issues (PDF) that are missing from Indian cyber security initiatives.

For instance, India has no cyber warfare policy. A dedicated cyber warfare policy of India (PDF) must be formulated as soon as possible. Similarly, the critical infrastructure protection in India and its problems, challenges and solutions (PDF) are still to be looked into with great priority. It is only now that India has declared that NTRO would protect the Critical ICT Infrastructures of India.

Similarly, a cyber command for Armed Forces of India was in pipeline for long. Now some progress in this regard has taken place. It has been reported that to counter various forms of cyber attacks, India would soon set up a tri-service cyber command. This development was long due but there was little progress in this regard.

The ministry of defence has a draft on the subject ready which the cabinet committee on security, headed by the prime minister, would be taking up for discussion in the days to come. A note for the cabinet committee on security has been prepared for setting up the tri-service cyber command.

Sources said the office of the chairman, chief of staff committee, has written a detailed note to defence minister AK Antony regarding setting up cyber command. Officials, privy to drafting the cabinet note, have explained that the need to have a cyber command has been felt for a long time, as the cyber security infrastructure of India is “weak”.

This is evident from recent incidents of cyber attacks on India. Last year, Chinese hackers broke into sensitive computer systems at the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam, where the indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant has been undergoing sea trials.

Recently, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) computer systems were breached and sensitive files were leaked. A top defence ministry officer admitted that India has delayed on the cyber security front. “Cyber command would ensure both offensive and defensive cyber security capabilities. Issues like cyber warfare, cyber espionage and cyber terrorism, etc. would be taken care of by a cyber command.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing the combined commanders conference in November, highlighted the need for developing capacities to counter what he described as “global surveillance operations”.

That NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had allegedly collected information and intercepted communications in India has lent urgency to setting up a cyber command. As per a recent report, the US is the biggest buyer of malware in the world. Global cyber espionage networks are being actively used to spy on other countries. The command and control servers of malware FinFisher were also found in 36 countries, including India.

US International Strategy For Cyberspace

US International Strategy For CyberspaceCyberspace issues have assumed great importance for countries around the world. This is the reason why issues like Cyber Law and Cyber Security have become an essential part of national as well as international ICT policies and strategies.

Although cyberspace is a boundary less place yet there is no internationally acceptable cyberspace treaty till now. Even the basic International Cyber Law Treaty, which can be uniformly accepted by all countries of the world, is missing. Till now India is not a part of this cyber law treaty.

United States (US) has in the past revealed its international strategy for cyberspace to promote an open and secure information and communications infrastructure. US will work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure that supports international trade and commerce, strengthens international security, and fosters free expression and innovation, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in remarks during the release of strategy at the State Department.

To achieve that goal, we will build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behavior guides states actions, sustains partnerships, and support the rule of law in cyberspace, she added.

What they are able to do in cyberspace, whether they can exchange ideas and opinions openly, freely explore the subjects of their choosing, stay safe from cyber criminals, and engage in professional and personal activities online, confident that doing so will remain private and secure, depends a great deal on the policies that we will adopt together, she added.

Of late, Civil Liberties of netizens are openly violated in the name of national security. We have already voiced our concerns in India in this regard. We believe that India must reconcile Civil Liberties and National Security Requirements in the larger interest of Civil Liberty Protection in Cyberspace.

We have also dedicated an initiative titled Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace that has been providing Techno Legal ICT Policies and Strategies for protecting Civil Liberties in Cyberspace.

While US initiative is praiseworthy, it cannot succeed till it collaborates at international level. We may secure some aspects of cyberspace at national level but at international level it is an altogether different issue. But at least a good step has been taken by US and we welcome the same.