Fortifying Our Borders: Cybersecurity’s Critical Role in National Security

Over the last two decades, the world has undergone a profound transformation and entered an era where digital connectivity has become indispensable. This shift towards a network society has brought about numerous advantages, but it has also exposed us to an escalating array of threats and vulnerabilities in the realm of national security.

Evolving Threats and Vulnerabilities

With over 40 billion IT devices connected to the internet, numerous threats have emerged, including software glitches, unsecured software, phishing, and ransomware. From a national security standpoint, ransomware and phishing are the most significant challenges, as such threats target unsuspecting citizens who lack awareness on these issues. In fact, many public organizations have also fallen victim to phishing attacks in the recent past, and the growth in ransomware continues to be worrisome. The heterogeneity of devices being used and increasing software complexities further fuel threats.

Government Strategies and Regulatory Response: Need for Collaboration

With the evolving nature of security threats and vulnerabilities, governments and regulatory bodies have recognized the urgency of addressing cybersecurity risks. Initiatives like updating Cybersecurity Policy 2013, along with other upcoming policies and measures, aim to tackle these challenges. The National Cyber Security Strategy is likely to be released to address the issues of emerging cyber threat. In addition, working groups like the International Counter Ransomware Initiative – Resilience Working Group are being set up.

From a strategic standpoint, national cybersecurity priorities focus on strengthening the regulatory framework, promoting research and development in cybersecurity, securing e-governance services, encouraging open standards, creating an assurance framework, and establishing a secure cyber ecosystem, among others.

Simultaneously, the government is encouraging collaboration with and among regulators like the RBI, SEBI, ADA, and sector-specific stakeholders to dynamically update strategies and policies to keep pace with evolving threats. As the cybersecurity landscape matures, cyber risks are no longer isolated; they transcend sector boundaries, making coordination and information exchange essential involving coordination with multiple agencies, across borders. International collaboration plays a vital role as lessons learned from cybersecurity incidents in one country can benefit others. Information sharing helps understand techniques and tactics employed by attackers, aiding in the development of effective countermeasures.

User organizations are also taking proactive measures by creating and updating their own cybersecurity policies, aligning them with the technologies they employ, including Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and communication systems.

Focus on Cybersecurity Education and Capacity Building

The increasingly complex cyber threat landscape is necessitating a heightened emphasis on cybersecurity education and capacity building. From engineering programs to specialized cybersecurity certifications, students, citizen and professionals are now exposed to the intricacies of protecting data, systems, and networks.

Moreover, capacity building has emerged as a crucial pillar of cybersecurity readiness. Research shows that India is unable to fill 30% of cybersecurity jobs due to the skill gap. Investing significantly in human resource training, both public and private sectors offer cybersecurity programs, refresher workshops, hands-on exercises and simulations, to prepare professionals for real-world challenges, latest threat vectors and best practices.

Furthermore, companies recognize their role in fostering a cyber-literate society. As part of their CSR, they collaborate with educational institutions and cybersecurity organizations to support training programs and cybersecurity awareness campaigns.

Striking a Balance: Technological Innovation and Security

The field of cybersecurity is ever-evolving, with new technological innovations like AI, ML, Cloud, IoT, and 5G emerging regularly. While these innovations are opening new frontiers for enhancing resiliency of cyber infra, new risks are also coming to the forefront. The exposure surface vulnerable to threats is constantly increasing due to high levels of interconnectedness and data proliferation. Striking a balance between technological innovation and robust security measures is crucial for building a resilient future for the nation. It requires a collective effort from individuals, organizations, governments, and international collaborations to adapt to emerging threats, enhance cybersecurity practices, and ensure the protection of critical systems, data, and infrastructure.

Dr. Gulshan Rai
Former National Cyber Security Coordinator
Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this feature article are of the author. This is not meant to be an advisory to purchase or invest in products, services or solutions of a particular type or, those promoted and sold by a particular company, their legal subsidiary in India or their channel partners. No warranty or any other liability is either expressed or implied.
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