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NSDL’s Negligence In Reporting Cyber Breach Irks SEBI

NSDL’s Negligence In Reporting Cyber Breach Irks SEBICyber security as a part of Indian policy is still not widely recognised. This is true regarding not only drafting of cyber security policies and laws in India but also the actual implementation of whatever scarce provisions we have in this regard. For instance, we have no cyber breach disclosure norms in India as on date and the cyber law of India is grossly deficient on this front. Different regulators and authorities have specified their own guidelines and rules in this regard that have further complicated this situation. Companies and individuals do not find these guidelines and regulations deterrent enough to even take notice of the same. Of course, actual compliance with these regulations is expecting moving of a mountain by companies and individuals.

Recently there were many media reports that the website of Ministry of Home Affairs was cracked by unknown crackers. Website defacement is a very common phenomenon in India and is not a very serious threat. The real threat is use of stealth malware by our cyber adversaries that cannot be detected for months and years. Contemporary cyber security products and services are ineffective against such malware. And till the time we react against such malware and corresponding cyber breaches, the irreparable damage is already done.

Indian companies and their directors are notoriously insincere in reporting cyber crimes and cyber breaches. As a result remedial cyber actions cannot be taken on time and consumer interests are jeoparadised. Take the recent example in this regard.  On 10 October 2016, it was reported that the website of the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) had been hacked. A detailed inquiry by SEBI into the attack on India’s biggest depository reveals that NSDL has not been fully compliant with SEBI’s policies and several specific circulars on audit and risk containment were ignored. In fact, even the recovery effort did not meet SEBI’s specifications.

This lax attitude is not acceptable in contemporary times and under the digital India project that is already insecure. On the one hand Indian government is contemplating separate CERT for financial sector and on the other hand we see this attitude of NSDL. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) strongly recommends that Indian government must investigate this issue and take appropriate action against those guilty of non compliance with the cyber breach disclosure requirements of SEBI and other laws. We also recommend that cyber security infrastructure of India must be strengthened.

Since NSDL holds most of our shares and investments in dematerialised form and its sister entity handles our tax information and other data, it was important for NSDL to immediately inform SEBI in this regard. However, NSDL failed to do so not only in a timely manner but also in great disregard of the cyber security and cyber law due diligence (pdf) requirements. NSDL has told SEBI that only the public website was affected and it only contains information about the organisation, its products and services and downloadable forms. NSDL also informed that no confidential data was compromised by the attack, nor was any service provided by NSDL to clients affected.

This assertion of NSDL may be true but the problem, according to SEBI and its technical advisory committee (TAC), is with the many flaws and lapses that have been thrown up by the incident which indicate that NSDL is not taking SEBI’s circulars as seriously as it should.  There are also inconsistencies in the versions of NSDL regarding cyber breach reporting to CERT-In and SEBI respectively. For instance, although NSDL reported the incident as a “major cyber attack” to CERT-In yet it decided to wait and conduct a detailed review of the incident and reported the attack to SEBI only on 19th October, after a lapse of nine days.

Of course, NSDL has given an explanation for this delayed reporting to SEBI. NSDL claims that this cyber breach was not considered a cyber attack on its own system, and there was no impact on the information of any client held by NSDL or the services provided by NSDL to its clients. Hence NSDL did not report the incidence to SEBI immediately and reported the same only after a detailed investigation conducted in association with the hosting provider.

What NSDL has failed to understand in this case is that NSDL must choose an outsourcing or hosting service provider that must comply with the cyber security standards as prescribed by SEBI. According to the guidelines issued by SEBI on 6 July 2015, market intermediaries like NSDL must ensure similar level of IT security measures as its own data centre, at outsourcing entities such as hosting service providers. However, SEBI has found that the hosting service provider in this case had “very weak securities controls”. The report of the cyber attack incident revealed basic issues such as weak passwords and improper hardening of systems among the reasons for the hacking incident. This is a direct violation of the SEBI guidelines.

Further, a circular issued by SEBI on 9 December 2015, which specifically deals with “outsourcing by depositories”, required NSDL to ensure that a risk impact analysis is undertaken before outsourcing any activity and appropriate risk mitigation measures, like a back-up and restoration system, are in place. It also had to ensure real-time monitoring of outsourced activities with a clear policy framework and audit of outsourced activities. NSDL, reportedly, failed to ensure these standards of IT and cyber security at hosting service provider level which had been outsourced the job of maintaining NSDL’s website.

The SEBI circular requires market intermediaries to ensure that a cyber security and resilience policy document is prepared which is approved by the board of directors and reviewed, at least, annually. Further, an IT strategy committee of depositories is expected to review this policy on a quarterly basis and set goals for improving and strengthening cyber resilience.

SEBI says that “a critical element of the cyber security and resilience framework, i.e., risk emanating from the outsourced activity of third-party service providers/vendors, was not appropriately assessed and mitigated” by NSDL, at the level of its chief information security officer, or the management, the IT strategy committee or the board of directors. Further, there has to be an annual system audit of the depository is supposed to audit ‘access policy and controls as well as general access controls’. However, SEBI has discovered that the hosting service provider, which hosted NSDL’s website, was not even covered by the annual system audit process.

Above all, a SEBI circular, dated 22 July 2012, mandates a very specific recovery time objective (RTO) and a recovery point objective of not more than 30 minutes. On 4 September 2013, SEBI issued a circular which says that intermediaries should have a business continuity plan in place including a secondary site that incorporates all critical IT systems and can resume operations within two hours following a disruptive incident. This system should be designed to ensure that the intermediary can “complete settlement at the end of the day of disruption, even in the case of extreme circumstances.” And these back-up arrangements need to be regularly tested and be in order.

NSDL’s own submission indicates that it failed in this regard. NSDL has confirmed that the cyber attack started at 7.30pm on 10 October 2016 and the website was completely restored on 11 October 2016. This would mean that it failed the RTO specified by SEBI, in this particular incident. NSDL may be supremely confident about its technology prowess and ability to deal with cyber attacks, but the utter disregard for SEBI regulations, especially the fact that NSDL did not bother to report the incident for nine days, should be a matter of concern.

In the past it was decided that the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of SEBI would address cyber security issues as well. This move of SEBI aims at securing the data, applications, database, operating systems and network layers of (FMIs) from various forms of cyber attacks such as Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, phishing, hacking, man-in-the-middle attack, sniffing, spoofing, key-logging and malware attacks.

Cyber security and cyber resilience for financial market infrastructures is one of the core priority issues for governments and nations around the world. However, this is not an easy task to manage as it requires tremendous techno legal expertise that very few individuals and organisations possess these days. Even the regulatory and governing framework in this regard is still evolving at the international level. Indian government and SEBI are slow in this regard and the episode of NSDL shows that we are still far away from achieving this goal.

CIA Has Been Issuing Computer Security And Cyber Security Warnings Since 1968

CIA Has Been Issuing Computer Security And Cyber Security Warnings Since 1968Cyber security is not an easy task to manage especially in the contemporary times. Cyber security is not just technical part but it also includes the legal aspects as well. This is the reason why cyber security is a techno legal field. We have been treating cyber security as mere technical field for long and this is not producing any productive results.

For instance, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of United States has been struggling to deal with cyber security and computer security since 1968 and much before. At least the official records about CIA’s involvement in the cyber security fields goes back to 1968 where CIA issued a cyber security warning to US government. This makes it almost 50 years of concern and expertise for CIA in the field of cyber security.

So it would be safe to conclude that US government is seized with cyber security related issues at least since 1968. And if US government is still concerned about cyber security, it means that by and large our cyber security efforts have failed to achieve the required goals. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is about to sign an executive order to strengthen US cyber security capabilities. This is in addition to the transborder hacking and search powers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that gives the US law enforcement agency long arm jurisdiction. Despite all cyber power, US still believe that cyber warfare is undermining its traditional defenses.

The problem with a sophisticated and global cyber attack is that we cannot ascertain the authorship attribution with certainty in almost all cases. For instance, US has accused Russia of manipulating its elections results through cyber attacks whereas Russia has accused that CIA has hacked the Kremlin. Who is speaking truth and who is speaking falsehood is not easy to ascertain in these circumstances.

As per the media report, the U.S. government has been in the cyber security business for many decades. In 1968, the CIA added a computer security subcommittee to the U.S. Intelligence Board, a government wide body convened by the CIA to coordinate intelligence efforts. The US intelligence community has been dealing with many of the problems of access control, physical security, contractor access, data verification and other issues that continue to plague government agencies even today. So the cyber security problems are persistent and ever evolving and this is the reason why laws of various countries are not even close to resolve such complicated cyber issues.

In February 1969, subcommittee participants were instructed to list in order of priority their computer security problem areas. The NSA member said that access control topped the list, followed by computer malfunctions, information classification and physical security. An Air Force member wanted to prioritise the development of a method to securely erase the drums of magnetic storage tape containing highly classified information, when those tapes needed to be decommissioned. The Navy concurred in this judgement. The Defense Intelligence Agency sought to come up with a working definition of a system and its components as a first step to developing a computer security standard.

In one memo, the group examined the security threats posed by the possibility of hostile exploitation of weak points in the computer operations of the intelligence community. In assigning this task to the Subcommittee, the Security Committee requested that the Counterintelligence Staff of CIA be asked to report any known cases where hostile services had attempted to exploit the security vulnerabilities of the computer operations. In addition, the Subcommittee was asked to study any possible threat of hostile penetration of the computer operations.

The memorandum also warned about the Soviet Bloc that had interest in the American computing technology. This means US was on loggerheads with Russia regarding computing technology and cyber security at least since 1968. So cyber espionage and cyber warfare are not new concepts but just new definitions for the old forms of computing espionage and cyber attacks.

The Subcommittee asked CIA counterintelligence personnel to look for possible examples of intrusion or exploitation by rivals. According to the memo’s findings, the CIA and the FBI “were able to provide information on several cases involving hostile attempts to exploit either personnel associated with Community computer operations or personnel employed by American computing manufacturers having potential contact with government operations.”

Additionally, that report confirmed the existence of vulnerabilities in intelligence community systems that were postulated as possible threats in a draft of a classified Defense Science Bureau Task Force report from January 1970 — including one flaw that allowed for system-wide memory dumps to be initiated by programmers who were only supposed to have limited access. Another bug from back in the days of magnetic tape storage allowed users to bypass storage protection features of the IBM 360 system to access program data.

Information and communication technology (ICT) has significantly changed since 1968 and many more layers of complications and complexities have been added. This discussion by CIA is a hint how the future of computers, Internet and ICT can be changed by States and State actors forever.

Source: IoT And Smart Cities Forum Of India.

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.

Cyber Security Infrastructure In India

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLB3Infrastructure is the backbone of any nation. Infrastructure’s shape and nature has been changing from time to time. With the advancement in technology, infrastructure is also dependent upon many facets of information and communication technology (ICT). This has made the task both easier and dangerous. Infrastructure utilisation has become easier with use of sophisticated technology whereas this use of technology has also made these infrastructures vulnerable to various forms of cyber attacks.

At Perry4Law Organisation and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we believe that the Cyber Security Infrastructure of India must be urgently established by Indian Government. We also recommend that a Cyber Attack Crisis Management Plan of India must also be formulated as soon as possible. Further, the Cyber Security Policy of India 2015 must also be formulated by Indian Government on a priority basis as the 2013 policy is highly defective in nature.

This Cyber Security Policy must address the issues of Cyber Attacks and Cyber Terorrism, prventing Cyber Attacks on Power Utilities, Cyber Security of Indian Satellites and Critical Infrastructure, International Legal Issues of Cyber Security, Conflict of Laws in Cyberspace, formulation of a Techno Legal Framework, Cyber Security Disclosure Norms, etc.

We are living in an era of Cyber Warfare, Cyber Terrorism, Cyber Espionage, etc. To make the matter worst, we have no International Harmonisation and Regulatory Framework for areas like Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Cyber Terrorism, Cyber Warfare, Cyber Espionage, etc. Even the Tallinn Manual on the International Law is not Applicable to International Cyber Warfare Attacks and Defence. In the absence of International Harmonisation and this “Great Legal Void”, Nations are free to Interpret and Apply their own “Norms and Regulations” to International Cyber Security Issues.

As far as India is concerned, Cyber Security in India has now become an essential part of Indian Polity and Economic Affairs. For instance, the Cyber Security Policy of India would be formulated very soon. However, Cyber Security has still not been understood and applied in true perspective. We have to think about Cyber Security beyond Anti Virus, Firewalls and Hardware and Software Procurements.

To start with, Cyber Security Skills Development in India must be ensured. Without a “Capable Cyber Security Workforce”, India cannot have an Effective Cyber Security. Similarly, in the absence of adequate Skills, Offensive and Defensive Cyber Security Capabilities of India cannot be achieved.

Malware have become “Sophisticate and State Sponsored” these days. Take the examples of malware like Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame, etc that are not works of Script Kiddies but Professional Programmers and Coders hired by various Nations. Clearly, the face of Cyber Attacks and Cyber Security is changing rapidly and firewalls and Anti Virus Software stands nowhere in this scenario.

Signatures based Anti Virus Software are “Long Dead” and so are simple Firewalls. Ironically, Anti Virus Updates are Potential Tool to Install Malware, Steal Information and Launch Cyber Warfare Attacks. We need a totally different Cyber Security Infrastructure for India as on date.

Today the Malware game has reached a totally different level. Malware are not used for Fun anymore. Neither are they used for merely stealing information. Malware today are also used for rendering Computer Systems and Devices useless. The Wiper Malware overwrites the Master Boot Record (MBR) and corrupt relevant portion of the Hard Disk. When the Computer cannot be booted, it cannot serve any purpose.

Critical Infrastructure Protection in India is another aspect that must be considered “Very Seriously” by Indian Government. The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIPC) of India must be made “Operational” as soon as possible. The Internet is Full of Unprotected and Unsafe Devices, SCADA Systems and Computers. Further, SCADA has become the new Cyber Attack Battlefield for India. The Cyber Security of Power Sector in India needs to be streamlined. Power Grids Cyber Security in India and its Challenges are now well known. Similarly, Healthcare and Medical/Life Sciences Industries are under Cyber Attack thereby risking the Lives of millions.

India must also “Absolutely Ensure” Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace. While doing so Civil Liberties and National Security Requirements Must be Reconciled by India. Issues like E-Surveillance in India, Cell Site Location Based E-Surveillance in India, Surveillance of Internet Traffic in India,  Central Monitoring System (CMS) for Telephone Tapping in India, etc must be “Thoroughly Analysed” before implementing them. E-Surveillance Tools like FinFisher must be avoided at all costs.

Some “Positive Developments” have already been undertaken by Indian Government in this direction. For instance, a National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) of India has been proposed to be established by Indian Government. Similarly, Regulations and Guidelines for Effective Investigation of Cyber Crimes in India may also be formulated very soon. The Indian Cyber Security Policy would be formulated very soon. The Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Agency of India may also be constituted soon. Finally, Indian Government is planning a Legislation Mandating Strict Cyber Security Disclosure Norms in India. As on date we have no dedicated Cyber Security Laws in India.

We at P4LO and PTLB wish Indian Government all the best for its Cyber Security Endeavours.

Cyber Security Disclosure Norms In India Needed: CECSRDI

Cyber Security Disclosure Norms In India Needed CECSRDICyber security is a very crucial priority of nations around the world. India is also in the process of streamlining of its cyber security infrastructure but its efforts in this regard are neither coordinated nor sufficient. For instance, we do not have a dedicated cyber security law of India that is need of the hour. Further, there is also a dire need to bring a techno legal framework keeping in mind contemporary cyber security threats and challenges.

Almost 2 years back, Indian Government decided to formulate a legislation that would ensure strict cyber security disclosure norms. As per the then proposed legislation, if a company faced cyber attack or cracking incidence, the company would be required to disclose to its clients the impact of such an incident on the safety of their data and information. The company may also be required to inform government or its agency about such incidence.

At that time there was no chief information security officer (CISO) of India and this position has been recently created by Modi Government by appointing Dr. Gulshan Rai for this post. This may be the first step towards creating a more robust cyber security regime in India. This may also be the base for introducing cyber security breaches disclosure norms in India that can be reported to the CISO or any other designated authority in this regard.

We at Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research and Development in India (CECSRDI) believe that Modi government must take cyber security seriously. The cyber security challenges in India would increase further and India must be cyber prepared to protect its cyberspace. CECSRDI believes that the starting point is to draft the cyber security policy of India 2015 as the 2013 policy is highly defective and of little significance.

CECSRDI also strongly recommends formulating the cyber security breaches disclosure norms in India by Indian Government as soon as possible. We also suggest that a dedicated cyber security law of India must also be enacted by India as India has launched policy initiatives like Digital India and Internet of Things (PDF) that would require strong cyber laws. CECSRDI believes that cyber security best practices must be formulated by Indian Government that must be followed in true letter and spirit by all stakeholders.

In the absence of a coordinated and holistic policy implementation, Digital India is already heading towards rough waters. There are many shortcomings of Digital India, Aadhaar and IoT policy initiatives of Indian Government and they must be removed as soon as possible. Absence of adequate cyber security is a common problem for Digital India, Aadhaar and IoT projects. It seems the worst performance of Modi Government pertains to cyber security field where Modi Government seems to have lost the track.

Recently Target Corporation faced a cyber breach and this exposed it to litigations in multiple jurisdictions. The moot question is whether target has failed to observe cyber due diligence regarding this particular breach. The cyber law due diligence (PDF) is neglected in India with impunity. Indian Government is also not pro active in taking such neglected obligations very seriously and this has made the entire concept of cyber law due diligence in India a joke only.

No body takes Indian cyber law seriously and e-commerce websites are openly flouting the cyber law of India by not following the cyber law due diligence and cyber security best practices requirements.  In order to effectively enforce cyber security relations obligations, cyber security awareness in India must be further improved with a special emphasis upon clearly specifying the cyber security obligations of directors of Indian companies.

Cyber law and cyber security awareness at the schools level must also be ensured. School children in India must be suitably educated about cyber issues. Recently the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued directions to curb bullying/cyber bullying and sexual abuses at schools. Without actual implementations these are mere guidelines that are issued every year with little impact. CECSRDI strongly recommends that not only these guidelines/directions must be stringently implemented by CBSE but even cyber law and cyber security awareness must be spread by CBSE among school students. Schools must also be required to notify about any cyber security breaches at their premises.

The task is difficult but not impossible to achieve. CECSRDI wishes all the best to Modi Government in its cyber security initiatives and projects and hopes that Modi government would actually start working in this direction as soon as possible.

NSA May Have Used Equation Group To Indulge In Illegal E-Surveillance: Kaspersky Lab

NSA May Have Used Equation Group To Indulge In Illegal E-Surveillance Kaspersky LabHardware and software based malware are very common these days. They have also become the favourite tool of intelligence agencies around the world to snoop upon their targets. Kaspersky Lab recently revealed that intelligence agencies used hardware based stealth malware to do eavesdropping upon targets of interest. Similarly, it has also been reported that the pre installing of Adware in laptops by Lenovo compromised the cyber security of these infected laptops.

Now Kaspersky Lab has further reveled that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) may have been planting surveillance software into hard drives and other essential computer equipment sold around the world for more than a decade through Equation Group. The Equation Group manipulated hard drives manufactured by Toshiba, Seagate, IBM, Western Digital and others dating back as far as 2001.

This has serious national security, telecom security and civil liberties implications around the world. For instance, Indian government has still not notified the norms for import of telecom equipments in India and has been postponing the same from time to time. This means such malware ridden hardware can be easily imported into India and they can be dangerously deployed for critical infrastructures (PDF). In fact, Huawei was accused of breaching national security of India by hacking base station controller in AP. Even the national cyber security policy of India 2013 is not at all effective in meeting the cyber security requirements of India.

Costin Raiu, Kaspersky’s lead researcher on the project, informed that while the Equation Group was able to steal files on any of the infected computers, they assumed full control only of computers used by high-value targets. Malicious firmware and BIOS are also big security threats for all stakeholders. Persistent BIOS infection using hidden rootkit is especially annoying and a major cyber security threat for India.

India needs to develop both offensive and defensive cyber security capabilities to tackle sophisticated cyber attacks. Cyber security breaches are increasing world over and India has its own share of the same. In this inter connected world, cyber security has become a major challenge for all countries. As on date the international legal issues of cyber attacks have yet to be resolved.

There are many cyber security challenges before the Narendra Modi Government. As per the cyber security trends of India 2015 by Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO), India needs to take urgent steps to strengthen its cyber security infrastructure. We believe that cyber security should be an integral part of the national security of India.

Narendra Modi Government has already started working in this direction. The Prime Minister Office (PMO) has already appointed Dr. Gulshan Rai as the first chief information security officer (CISO) of India. This is a significant step in the direction of strengthening of cyber security infrastructure of India.

Secondly, Narendra Modi has suggested to Nasscom that a task force be set up to solve the growing cyber security menace in India. According to Nasscom the taskforce would be constituted within a period of one month. We believe such a task force would provide valuable suggestions and implementation plans to strengthen Indian cyber security.

However, it would not be an easy task to ward off sophisticated and stealth malware that are the real problem for India. We at Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research and Development in India (CECSRDI) strongly recommend that indigenous capabilities in the hardware and software development must be developed by India to avoid possible malware and backdoors. We also recommend that a new cyber security policy of India 2015 must be urgently formulated by Indian Government keeping in mind the requirement and need of a techno legal framework in India.

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.