By Mahul Brahma & Jacob Cherian
31 Aug, 2007
Not long ago, one of Indias well-known banks received a complaint from a
clerk that there may have been an accounting error in the charge of
interest rates on overdraft accounts. The bank usually charged an
interest rate of 10%, but on a few accounts, the charge was just 5%.
The difference ran into several lakhs of rupees. All records were
checked and found to be accurate, but still the money was missing. The
bank hired a small firm specialising in detection of cyber crimes to
check if a fraud had been committed on its network.
The firm checked the 259 programs that the bank used and found in the
systems nine more that were not in the official list of software. Three
of them that accessed the database produced no audit trail. The firm
came up with the hypothesis that someone should have briefly reset the
The extra software could have been installed when the bank was upgrading
its systems to newer software. The day of the fraud was identified, the
accounts named and the officer staffing a certain desk questioned. It
didnt take much to extract the confession from him. The bank took
remedial action without involving the police. A small firm had busted a
racket that a big bank could not initially fathom.
This case is illustrative of an increasing number of cyber crimes in
India and abroad, which have in turn, yielded business opportunities of
various hues for small entrepreneur-driven firms. Large companies have a
high cost base and depend on nimble start-ups to swoop down on online
criminals threatening their business. Cyber security for large and small
firms is not merely important, but critical.
A leading Supreme Court advocate says the market for cyber security
services and products will grow 100 times within five years, due to
increased adoption of technology and higher awareness and possibility of
For instance, if there is a major security breach in the banking
industry or the stock market, the impact on the country would be
devastating. The lack of security could undermine the growth and
credibility of Indias outsourcing industry, which has given the country
global attention and recognition.
Terrorists and criminals will continue to add their contribution to make
the security business prosperous. Be prepared to plan for a long term
and you will reap the benefits, says Naa Vijayashankar, director, Cyber
Law College and founder of Naavi.org, a techno legal information
security consultancy based in Bangalore. As criminals become more and
more tech savvy, a war has broken out between them and law keepers.
Nations and companies need an army of specially trained warriors to take
the attack to the criminals, Mr Naavi says.
Like any other start up in a new field, investments are the key and
appealing to a venture capitalist is difficult. Unless the services are
institutionalised, investments are hard to come by. Saurabh Srivastav,
the president of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), Delhi, says that
investing in the area of cyber security is finding global interest.
However, he adds: You wont succeed unless you have a world-class product
or service, as today you are competing in a global market. You cant
offer something that is simply the best in India. Cyber security is not
country specific. It isnt like banking software, where the software for
an American system of banking is different from the Indian system. Cyber
security is cyber security, the world over.
It is very important for entrepreneurs not to lose sight of individuals
since security is important for every information user. If Mobile
Security is a target, then millions of mobile users are also the target
clients. Ultimately, client selection is part of a business strategy and
a good mix of mass markets which are stable but of low individual value
has to be planned along with high value clientele who would obtain
services on retainership.
There is plenty of scope for start up companies in the field of cyber
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