Security Watch: Interconnected sectors raise need for robust cyber defence strategy

Even as contradictory claims emerge from the Centre and the Maharashtra government over the involvement of Chinese actors in the Mumbai power outage of October last year, the allegations have put focus on the need for India to be better prepared to protect its critical infrastructure against globally rising cyber-attack attempts on key infrastructure. Cybersecurity experts pointed out that this is particularly significant given the increasing interconnectedness of sectors and proliferation of entry points into the internet, which could further grow with the adaption of 5G.

A National Cyber Security Strategy is being formulated by the Office of National Cyber Security Coordinator at the National Security Council Secretariat. A strategy document prepared by an inter-ministerial task force involving representatives from different central government ministries and departments has now been forwarded to an Empowered Technology Group for consultation. Once the process is through, the document will be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security for deliberations and approval.

Hackers targeting critical infrastructure is not a new trend but experts believe that propensity for damage is more than ever, especially with countries investing in cyber offensive capabilities. In 2015, in what was the first known successful cyber attack on a power grid, hackers compromised systems of three energy distribution companies in Ukraine thereby disrupting electricity supply.

“Critical infrastructure is getting digitised in a very fast way — this includes financial services, banks, power, manufacturing, nuclear power plants, etc. Because of these a lot of security issues arise. We just saw the SolarWinds hack, which impacted national critical infrastructure in the US. Most countries are not prepared for combating the sophistication of attacks that are happening,” Saket Modi, co-founder & CEO of cybersecurity firm Safe Security told The Indian Express.

“A lot of countries have started taking advantage of this. They’re spending unprecedented amount of money and are building armies. Israel is a good example, they say that there is a fourth unit in the defence system, which is for…