– Dr. Anil Kumar Nigam
Cyber security is a global issue today. The faster the digitalization is increasing in various countries including India, the more the threat of cyber attacks is looming. India’s infrastructure remains at risk of cyber attacks. America, India and Brazil are direct targets of cyber attackers. Along with the healthcare and finance sectors, critical parts of infrastructure such as the aviation industry, oil, gas and energy sectors and technology companies are being targeted by cyber attacks. Although India is paying a lot of attention to its cyber security, but the manner in which India’s topmost medical institute – All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi was targeted in November 2022 is extremely worrying. The question is, if cyber attackers hack India’s infrastructure like power supply, railway signalling, PNG gas supply, banking system, will India be able to deal with it? Are the measures for the security of information systems in India sufficient?
In the year 2022, there were 82 cyber attacks on government institutions in India. This figure is eight times more than the previous year 2021. According to the report of Cloudsec, a company that studies cyber attacks, there has been a sharp increase in cyber attacks targeting government institutions in India. In 2021, only 11 attacks were registered in public sector organizations of the country. India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) in its India Ransomware Report for 2022 said that there has been a 51 per cent increase in the number of ransomware attacks across sectors including critical infrastructure in India.
It is known that the activities of AIIMS were adversely affected by the cyber attack. All the files on the main and backup servers of the hospital were corrupted. Cyber attackers were successful in stealing the data of about four crore patients. This also includes very sensitive data. It is also known that in the year 2021, the colonial pipeline of America was attacked by Russian attackers with ransomware. After that there was chaos. This pipeline was stalled for six days. There was an acute shortage of gas in 17 states of America. In fact, ransomware is a type of malware that prevents access to computer files, systems or networks. Through this, the aggressor gets his demand fulfilled from the aggrieved party.
CloudSec believes that India has the second largest number of cyber attacks on the health sector in the world. In the year 2021, 7.7 percent of the cyber attacks on the health sector in the world took place in India. However, in the case of cyber attacks, America is the most targeted. In 2021, the US alone had 28 percent of the cyber attacks on the health sector in the whole world. This is a result of the rapid digitization of the world, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. IndusFace, another software security company, said that its customers were subjected to over one million cyber attacks, of which 2,78,000 attacks took place in India.
G-20 countries believe that in the coming times, dependence on computers, smart phones and internet will increase in many aspects of life in different countries. This will also benefit the countries but it will also increase the risk of cyber attacks. Countries are less than ten years away from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but global losses from cyber attacks are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2025. Despite India’s many efforts, hackers have been successful many times in penetrating India’s cyber security system. This has alerted the Government of India. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has instructed all the states to make special preparations and give special training to the employees to strengthen cyber security. Nevertheless, India needs to make a serious study of the attackers’ tactics, techniques and procedures to keep its infrastructure safe from the ravages of hackers.
(The author is a freelance commentator.)
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