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Why India needs its own cyber army

December 07, 2010 19:30 IST

Three days after being hacked by the Pakistan Cyber Army, the website of the Central Bureau of Investigation is still not working. According to sources in the CBI, experts are still working on getting the website up and running.

Of the many facts emerging from the cyber attack, the most disturbing one is that the Indian government is yet to notify a large number of sensitive websites as protected systems.

The amendment to the Information Technology Act included a provision urging the government to notify all sensitive sites under it as protected systems. Under this provision, a mere attempt to access a protected system would invite a jail term of up to ten years. Though this would not deter a Pakistan-based hacker from encroaching into the system, it would at least ensure that the website is protected from domestic cyber attacks.

Pavan Duggal, an expert on cyber security, told rediff.com that most sensitive government websites in India are not notified as protected systems. The fact that the government has not done this despite the IT act being in place for nearly two years highlights its lack of seriousness in fighting cyber crimes.

India does have a group of computer experts or hackers to protect its systems, but one of them told rediff.com the various problems they face.

These hackers don't enjoy the patronage of the government, whereas their Pakistani counterparts are provided security by the government and the Inter Services Intelligence.

Indian hackers also complain about too much interference by the police. "We should not be told how to go about our jobs. This kills our motivation and we feel that our own system is against us. Our job requires precision and a lot of dedication and at times we have pointed out the problems faced by the Indian systems. However, there has not been much reaction to this and we have been clearly told that we need to work only when we are asked to work," said the hacker, who didn't wish to be named.

Duggal points out that though there many hackers who help out the government, India doesn't have a 'cyber army'.

"It is high time India thinks in that direction in order to act proactively to protect our sovereign interests," he said.

He cites the hacking of the CBI website as an example. "It has been four days and it is still not up when the damage should have been repaired in only three hours. The message we have sent out is loud and clear -- that we lack a pro-active national strategy on cyber crime. Pakistan-based hackers have exploited the loopholes in our security system and we are only showing how weak we are by undertaking the restoration process so late," he rued.

The Intelligence Bureau, on the other hand, has constantly warned against such attacks.

"There could well be a situation where our crucial data is accessed. We need a fully functional and dedicated cyber army comprising IT professionals. It is more important that they constantly work towards securing our websites than hack into the system of our neighbouring nations," says a source in the IB.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation say that it is developing a mechanism to protect Indian websites from such hackers. The DRDO believes that cyber crimes pose a serious threat to national security.

Vicky Nanjappa