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Indian IT industry in wait-and-watch mode on Ukraine

As the Russia-Ukraine crisis escalates, India’s information technology and business process management industry is on a wait-and-watch mode.

Even though Indian IT companies do not have large operations in Ukraine, they have big centres in Eastern European countries like Hungary, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic, where business continuity plans are being activated. Companies like HCL Technologies said that they are assessing the situation to track employee and client dependency.

According to research firm ISG, there are about 50,000 tech workers and 200,000 odd technology freelancers in Ukraine who could be affected by the hostile situation, in turn impacting operations across tech companies globally. ISG has also warned companies of disruptions due to cyberattacks. “Cyber risk outside Ukraine has increased significantly over the past 48 hours… All enterprises should be prepared, whether they use Eastern Europe as a technology delivery location or not,” it said in its advisory.

HCL Technologies, India’s third largest software services firm, said it is closely monitoring the situation in delivery centres in the region.

“The safety of our employees is of utmost importance to HCL. We are also focused on maintaining the highest service delivery levels for our clients. We have therefore been closely monitoring the situation and have already activated the required business continuity measures,” said a spokesperson.

IT industry body NASSCOM said that it is in constant touch with its members to understand the impact of the Ukraine crisis and initial feedback indicates no immediate impact as the industry does not have a significant presence in Ukraine. “Eastern Europe is a key part of the global delivery operations for companies and business continuity plans are being put in place as a matter of abundant caution,” said Sangeeta Gupta, chief strategy officer, NASSCOM.

According to industry experts, tech companies in these regions tend to hire a larger local employee base.

In a note on the Ukraine crisis, ISG said on Saturday: “…based on discussions over the past 48 hours, it’s our view that, while some IT services employees have left the country, most are sheltering in place. This is likely to remain the situation for the near term as the Internet has been disrupted, many roads are blocked, and air space has been closed to commercial air traffic.”

This means that not only is delivery being impacted in some cases, but also that short-term relocation out of the country as part of some providers’ business continuity plans may be impacted, ISG said.

It added that the possibility for cyberattacks against critical infrastructure providers outside of the country is now very real. The average dwell time for these types of attacks is more than six months, which means it’s likely some organisations have already been breached but are not yet aware.

“All enterprises should be prepared, whether they use Eastern Europe as a technology delivery location or not. Firms should 1) heighten awareness of cyber risks, 2) review internal and external communication plans, 3) continue to be diligent in patching systems, 4) ensure backup technology and resources are ready and available, and 5) ensure open lines of communications with third-party technology providers that may also be compromised,” it said. Pehal News

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