After A Bad Year For Cybersecurity, The Union Budget Looks At Some Solutions


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced yesterday while presenting the union budget that a new Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the finance sector will be formed to secure data and financial transactions.

There were many cyber attacks targeting Indian institutions last year, especially in the sensitive finance sector. In one of the biggest incidents, almost 3.2 million ATM cards were compromised by a hack on ATM networks.

"Cyber security is critical for safeguarding the integrity and stability of our financial sector," Jaitley said in his speech. "A Computer Emergency Response Team for our Financial Sector will be established. This entity will work in close coordination with all financial sector regulators and other stakeholders."

Cyber experts and security companies have welcomed the move while stressing that a lot more needs to be done.

"It would have been a very good initiative, had the government allocated funds for a Cyber Suraksha Programme that would work towards inculcating cyber awareness in the common man," Aunj Goel, founder of security company Cyware, said. "In addition, the domestic security industry also had hopes of support from the budget. But that hasn't happened."

Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal echoed the sentiment. "We need far more focus to safeguard computer networks and payment gateways targeted by state and non-state actors," he told IANS.

Atul Gupta, cyber security head of KPMG, said that establishing cyber and computer emergency response teams will help in the shift towards digital economy. "However, this needs to be implemented effectively with participation from all stakeholders, including regulators and LEAs to ensure that cyber response works seamlessly," he added.


Besides cyber attacks on financial targets, there have been other incidents in India highlighting security weaknesses in cyberspace. In November and December last year, Twitter accounts of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, fugitive industrialist Vijay Mallya, and journalists Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar were hacked. And, most recently, the National Security Guard website was allegedly attacked by Pakistani hackers.

Meanwhile, mobile wallets have started to secure their apps in the wake of demonetisation. Paytm has introduced a set of security features in its mobile and website offerings and, besides its own safety measures, Mobikwik has a Bug Bounty program that welcomes any outside help in securing its website. The government is also working towards making its BHIM e-payments app more widely usable.

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