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IT minister exhorts start-ups, industry to position India as market leader in cybersecurity

The magnitude of digitisation across sectors, including banking, has necessitated a sharper focus on cybersecurity, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday exhorting start-ups, industry and academia to address rising complexities and challenges on a bigger scale to position India as a thought-leader and market leader in cyber safety.

The vulnerabilities have grown multifold in the new world of increasingly-connected systems, and require innovators and cybersecurity experts to be a step ahead of those who seek to compromise or hack digital systems.

Start-ups, working in the area of cybersecurity, should come up with innovative ideas to address such complex challenges, the minister said assuring the industry of full support from the government.

Citing the “magnitude of digitalisation” that has swept across the financial sector and other domains, the minister said that “in such a world, if we are not able to care for the security of every transaction, then the trust, which is the bedrock of the entire financial system, will be eroded”.

The minister was speaking at an event to felicitate winners of the Cyber Security Grand Challenge, a contest focused on strengthening the cybersecurity capabilities of the country, and the development of new solutions.

“I urge the youngsters, start-ups, academia, industry veterans to look at this from a much bigger scale”, Vaishnaw said. India has to become a thought leader, product leader, and market leader in cybersecurity, he said. The minister noted that technology had ushered a clear convergence of computing, communication and sensors, with a reduction in cost, and a phenomenal increase in capabilities and complexities.

“All three have combined together we have a world where most of the systems, whether they are industrial systems, manufacturing systems, banking systems, practically every system that you name, are today controlled digitally. And, in such a world these are the systems where vulnerabilities have grown multifold,” he said.

The system entry points that were well-defined earlier, are no longer as clearly defined. “Day in and day out, people who want to compromise the system, are making innovations. So, we have to be one step ahead in thinking, compared to those who want to compromise the system. That is where the bigger challenge comes,” he said.

Hacking is a term that has gone beyond the computer system in the conventional sense, to hacking pipeline systems, manufacturing systems and others.

“So, that’s where the youngsters really need to concentrate and their energies can help the entire country and the world,” Vaishnaw said.

In his address, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar asserted that the safety and trust of the internet are as important as connectivity and access.

Cybersecurity is at the centre of delivering public policy objectives of safety and trust on the internet.

Cybersecurity drives the expansion of the digital economy and creates investment opportunities, but is also key to addressing strategic capabilities, Chandrasekhar said.

The issue of cybersecurity is not trivial, amid the rising intensity of the internet and the growing proliferation of technologies like 5G and the futuristic 6G.

“The nature, dimension and the character of the internet is also rapidly evolving. So, there is intelligence, sensing, traditional equipment and users and huge amounts of data that have been created, generated and consumed,” Chandrasekhar said.

The capabilities in cybersecurity are important and will require collaboration between industry and government.

“And therefore, these new capabilities that India wants and the internet requires to keep it safe and trusted, will come from start-ups,” he said. PTI

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