By Murali Krishnan
New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) In order to ensure that vital information
stored in computers does not fall into wrong hands, the Indian
government has directed all ministries and departments to submit a
quarterly report on cyber security to the Intelligence Bureau.
The theft of hard drives from the Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO) offices of the Scientific Analyses Group (SAG) and
the Institute for System Studies and Analyses (ISSA) as well as the
leakage in the War Room of the naval headquarters have provided the
spur, official sources said.
According to senior officials, a detailed set of guidelines has been
issued to make government data secure and a cyber security officer
appointed in each ministry under the new security regime.
"We will also conduct checks at random to see if the storage of critical
data in computers is carried out properly and, more important, if it is
in safe custody. The move is also to ensure there is no theft of
classified information," said an intelligence officer.
A trained network administrator will strictly monitor the security of
passwords, the use of flash drives and floppies for computer servers
used for classified applications.
The implementation of this move will begin in October.
The government already has in place a Computer Emergency Response Team
(CERT-In) aimed at protecting from hackers the networks of defence
forces, air and rail traffic and other vital security and economic
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has himself called upon government
departments and the IT industry to work together to tighten cyber
At a meeting to review the steps taken by the government and industry to
tackle cyber crimes last year, he underlined the need to maintain high
standards of quality, confidentiality and reliability in the business.
There have been several high-profile cases of both theft and leakages
from government departments to warrant this move.
The theft of hard drives from the DRDO complex some years ago proved a
major embarrassment for the scientific establishment.
In the War Room leak, cases were filed against military officers
including a former wing commander of the air force, two ex-naval
commanders and a former naval captain in June this year.
Again in June, computer parts went missing from the headquarters of the
Integrated Defence Services (IDS) here, forcing the government to order
a court of inquiry into the incident.
The government action came after the theft of 13 computer printer
cartridges worth Rs.17,000 from the store room of the well-protected
military installation in the heart of the capital.
While these measures will indeed make it more difficult to pilfer
information and raise the stakes for those attempting to subvert the
system, they are by no means sufficient.
"There can be no let-up in vigilance as ultimately, in ensuring cyber
and digital security, it is the human element that is the weak link,"
said the intelligence official.
Whether it is the written-down password lying around carelessly or a
corrupt security guard, a small chink can have serious consequences.
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