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Year 2016 exposed distant road to Digital India, amid cyber security concerns



Cyber security

New Delhi, December 17: With the country logging into the digital world to become a cashless economy, the threat of data breach loomed over both public and private enterprises, with several such cases being reported through the year — forcing the government to wake up from its slumber and prepare for digital war.

In one of the financial sector’s biggest cyber threats, millions of debit cards were compromised after a malware-related security breach was detected in a particular ATM network in October. The State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and YES Bank were among those which reported several of their customers’ debit cards being compromised.

India was also listed among the top five in the world to be attacked by ransomware — malware that forces its victims to pay a ransom through certain online payment methods to regain their data — as reported by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, a leading software security group operating in almost 200 countries and territories worldwide.

In September, Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in security software and solutions, reported that over 180 Indian companies were victims of ransomware in the first six months of 2016.

Read More: No laws in India to protect customers’ money during digital transactions

Read More: Cyber Appellate Tribunal is headless since July ’11

Indian businesses lost over $1 million from data losses and downtime in the last 12 months, a survey by EMC Corporation — the world’s largest data storage multinational — revealed in July. According to EMC, 46 per cent of organisations in India suffered unplanned system downtime and/or data loss due to external or internal security breaches.

Amid this, Pavan Duggal, the country’s leading cyber law expert, lamented that Indian Cyber law does not have adequate provisions to deal with the growing cyber threats.

“The Information Technology Act, 2000, amended in 2008, still does not comprehensively deal with all relevant issues in the cyber security ecosystem. India not being a signatory to any international treaty on cyber crime complicates the intrinsic ability of the immense law and legal frameworks to provide effective remedies against cyber crimes which are committed from abroad,” said Duggal.

With increased 4G and 3G penetration, the internet user-base in India is expected to double to 600 million users by 2020 from the current 343 million — so the threat will only grow.

“With the surge in digital transactions via e-wallets and other online payment gateways, mobile frauds are expected to grow to 60-65 per cent in the country by 2017,” warned leading industry body Assocham and global research firm EY in December.

According to Oracle India Managing Director Shailender Kumar, security breaches have moved information security from a hidden corner of the IT function to a topic of strategic importance to both business and society.

“Towards the beginning of 2016, cyber security had started to become a boardroom discussion. It has emerged to be a key concern for IT and business managers alike this year. In 2017, if security is not attended to, it will negatively impact not only the brand reputation but also the shareholders’ trust, revenue loss and result in higher risks for organisation,” Kumar told IANS.

With more and more Indians buying phones, enhanced security for the devices became another concern this year. India is the second-largest mobile phone market globally, with over one billion mobile subscriptions. Of this, smartphone users account for approximately 240 million subscriptions, which is expected to grow to 520 million by 2020, said a joint study by Assocham and Deloitte released in December.

The threat gets bigger with more and more people embracing mobile digital payments in the wake of demonetisation. “Mobile continues to be an area of exposure. As we get more and more used to transactions with mobile banking or e-commerce, mobile becomes more of a financial gateway and the implications are huge,” said Anand Ramamoorthy, Managing Director, South Asia, Intel Security.

Keeping this in mind, the IT industry’s apex body Nasscom and the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) launched a detailed road map for the next 10 years. Titled “Growing Cyber Security Industry, Road Map for India,” the report identifies Managed Security Service (MSS), Security and Vulnerability Management (SVM) and Network Security (NS) as attractive emerging opportunities globally.

Nasscom-DSCI have also established the Cyber Security Task Force (CSTF) initiative that aims to create one million cyber security jobs and 1,000 cyber security start-ups by 2025.

As the year drew to an end, the hacker group “Legion” broke into the Twitter accounts of the Congress Party, its Vice President Rahul Gandhi, controversial liquor baron Vijay Mallya and TV journalists Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar, threatening to leak data that will create “chaos” in India.

The government later asked the micro-blogging website to strengthen its security and announced measures like audit of the Indian IT infrastructure and setting up a task force to quicken action on cyber security.

Highlights of the Indian cyber security scene in 2016:

* The government announced it will set up the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) to provide near real-time situational awareness and rapid response to cyber attacks; expected to be operational by March 2017.

* India poised to build a cyber security product and services industry of $35 billion by 2025 and generate a skilled workforce of one million in the security sector.

* The Ministry of Electronics and IT ordered review of the IT Act 2000 and set up a crack team to respond to cyber security incidents quickly.

* Nasscom and the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) launched a detailed road map for the next 10 years.

(Nishant AroraIANS)


NYT scribe recounts being trolled with hatred for slaughter house story

I was operating in a straitjacket and I was ready to get beating. I was not receiving a cool criticism. It is real angry and hatred, saying I am Hinduphobic, racist and The New York times again started attacking the BJP.



yogi adityanath NYT

New Delhi, May 23 : A senior New York Times journalist on Wednesday said he had to face anger and hatred and was called “Hinduphobic” and “racist” after he did a story on how closure of slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh may have been the reason for dogs attacks humans in the state.

At a panel discussion on “Journalistic Challenges in Modern Era”, Jeffrey Gettleman, South Asia Bureau Chief for The New York Times, said he was trolled by the readers despite the fact that he had carefully balanced the story by including the other side of it in the write up published on Tuesday.

“I was operating in a straitjacket and I was ready to get beating. I was not receiving a cool criticism. It is real angry and hatred, saying I am Hinduphobic, racist and The New York times again started attacking the BJP.”

He said the news story “Killer dogs take 14 lives. Did closing slaughterhouses play a role?” tried to explain the reason for the attacks by canines in Uttar Pradesh.

Jeffrey said that dogs were initially eating the scraps of meat around these slaughter houses and their closure by “the Hindu rights groups was one of the unintended consequence of the creation of aggressive dogs”.

“That was not me saying, people living around the area said,” he remarked.

The panel also included senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai who said newsrooms had undergone “McDonaldization”.

“Like a fast burger. One gets it, eats it and forgets.”

Cautioning against the danger of the polarization, Sardesai lamented that those who question were being branded as “presstitutes”.

“Some younger Indians are cheering this off. This makes the future journalists difficult to find the middle path,” he said.

Echoing Gettleman, Sardesai said not all stories contain the other side. However, when he did that “I was accused of being monkey balancer or sold out”. He said journalists in India were in either way in a difficult position. “If I criticize you I am sold out, even if I don’t, I am sold out.”

Looking at the American scribe, he said: “You have one Trump! We have dozens of putative Trumps in this country, each of whom wants to teach the media a lesson.”


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Major Gogoi involved in human shield row detained with teenage girl at Srinagar hotel

Police said Major Leetul Gogoi was handed over to his unit and the incident will be investigated by a Special Investigation Team.



Major Gogoi

Major Leetul Gogoi, the Rashtriya Rifles officer who shot to fame after tying a Kashmiri civilian to the front of his jeep to perceptibly prevent stone-pelting attacks, was detained by the police on Wednesday in circumstances that are still unclear.

Also detained with him was a woman and a local man. The woman was initially suspected to be a minor but the police later confirmed she was over 18 years of age. They, however, did not share details on her age.

According to the police, they were summoned to Grand Mamta Hotel, where Gogoi had booked a room in his own name (the booking had been done online). The two locals came to the hotel and asked to go up to Gogoi’s room and got into an altercation with the hotel staff when they were not allowed. The hotel staff called the police.

Gogoi has been released and has rejoined his unit, police said, adding that the two locals were still being questioned.

“A police party was deputed to the hotel, and it surfaced that a woman and a man, Sameer Ahmed of Budgam, had come to see some person in the hotel. The hotel reception didn’t allow them to meet the person. All three were brought to the police station,” said a police spokesperson.

He added that they later learnt that the woman had come to meet an army officer.

North Srinagar’s superintendent of police Sajad Ahmad Shah declined to name the army officer, but the hotel management said the booking was in the name of Leetul Gogoi, a resident of Tinsukia, Assam. “What we know is that a man and a woman had come to meet him. The hotel staff did not allow them, leading to an altercation,’’ Shah added.

“The room was booked online. A person came along with a local girl and sought (to go to) the room. Our hotel manager asked him for his identity and the identity of the girl. The girl was a local and according to our hotel policy we don’t provide rooms to local unmarried couples,’’ said the hotel owner, Manzoor Ahmad.

A person familiar with the matter said that Gogoi claimed he had booked the room to meet with a “source”, although this is highly irregular and not in keeping with army procedures. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently confirm this.

It is not clear whether Gogoi knew the woman he was meeting.

An Army spokesman declined to comment, saying the details of the incident were being ascertained.

Last April, during by-elections for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, Major Gogoi had tied a civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar, to a bonnet of his jeep as a human shield to deter stone-pelters from targeting his troops. The incident led to a massive human rights controversy. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat awarded Gogoi a commendation card for his “sustained efforts” on counter-insurgency operations.

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Maldives more inclined towards China: Navy chief



Navy chief Sunil Lanba

New Delhi, May 23 : Maldives is a “challenge” for India at the moment as the current government in the island nation is more inclined towards China, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said today, indicating that the ties between New Delhi and Male are yet to reach a level of normalcy.

Lanba, however, added that patrolling of the Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the Indian Navy has again commenced and that India would continue to work with the government of the archipelago nation.

He also said there is no necessity to get a military dimension to the Quad involving India, the US, Australia and Japan.

“Maldives is a challenge at the moment. The present government in Maldives is more inclined towards China. The constitution has been tweaked and some islands have been given to the Chinese for development. There is no news at the moment of any listening post in the Maldives. There is some development that is going on,” Lanba said in response to a question at an event at the Vivekananda Foundation International.

India’s ties with Maldives nose-dived after it criticised the Abdulla Yameen government for imposing a 45-day emergency in the archipelago nation earlier this year.

During the crisis, India had ignored calls for military intervention from the opposition parties in the island nation.

The influence of China on Maldives, an island nation in the Indian ocean, considered a backyard of India, has been growing and it is seen as a concern in New Delhi.

Maldives neither participated in the multi-national ‘MILAN’ naval conclave, a congregation of littoral navies conducted biennially by the Indian Navy at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which was held in mid-March this year nor did its defence minister lead his country’s delegation to take part in the DefExpo2018.

“We (India) have an EEZ patrolling (exercise) that we regularly do with Maldives. The one (exercise) previously held had been called off by the Maldivian government, but that has been recommenced. We continue to train their personnel. We just finished a special forces training camp. We will continue to work with the Maldivian government,” Lanba said.

Responding to another question on the Quad, the Navy chief said it was a discussion forum for international good order and peace and following the norms of the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“We are not going down that route. I don’t think there is a necessity to get a military dimension to the Quad,” he said.

The Quad is also seen as a move to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region where Beijing has been trying to spread its influence.

The meeting was held in Manila in November last year, which was attended by leaders of the four countries.

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