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Cyber Security – A key foundation to build a New India

With Indian aspirations to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025 and USD 11 trillion economy by 2030, India has no option but to accept cyber security as a strategic enabler for economic growth, social wellbeing, political stability and global play

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Cyber security is globally seen as being transformative, disruptive and a game changer. It is poised to act as the much needed stimulus to drive economies in the coming decades. Cyber security might as well lead to an inflection point for planners across the globe.

With Indian aspirations to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025 and USD 11 trillion economy by 2030, India has no option but to accept cyber security as a strategic enabler for economic growth, social wellbeing, political stability and global play.

What do we need:

  1. 24X7 access to the open, safe and secure cyber space for citizen, businesses and government.
  2. Cyber defence capability against any machine or man-made cyber-attacks aimed at India.
  3. Develope deterrence in terms of cyber offensive to neutralise adversaries in full spectrum cyber and cyber-enabled warfare and cyber resilience.
  4. Collaborations at national, regional and global level, access and regulation for peaceful co-existence.

How can we achieve it:

  1. Building Secure Digital Infrastructure: The impact of security breaches on the global economy owing to insecure digital infrastructures will increase from USD 400 billion in 2015 to USD 1.2 trillion by 2020. It is imperative for India to accept seamlessly secure digital infrastructures as a strategic enabler for economic growth, military strength, social, political stability and a regional play in South Asia.
  • Secure Digital Networks: The networking components (switches, routers, chassis etc.) are the foundational blocks to build networks, data centers, storage and other cloud infrastructure. India, like many other countries, has overlooked this crucial capability building area and is 95% dependent on imports – (we manufacture little except some low-end networking appliances).
  • Cyber Security: Indian planners have made significant investments in creating organizations such as CERT-IN, NCIIPC, NTRO, DIARA etc to strengthen cyber security capability, capacity and delivery mechanisms. However, the emerging threats have overtaken these efforts. Hence, there is an urgent need to address cyber security concerns in a holistic manner. The challenge is that despite all past efforts, the national networks are not 100% secure against complex cyber-attacks. Our cyber intelligence has gaps, the Internet Monitoring and Control is wanting, and a military grade cyber defence and deterrence is an immediate national necessity.
  • Ignite National Spirit of Innovation and Disruption: India has over one million highly trained professionals across over 1,450 Global In-house Centres (GICs), which constitutes the largest global innovation and IP building hub outside USA. Further, India is also home to over 3 million high end IT/ ITeS professionals working in IT/ITeS, AI, ML, Big Data, Analytics, Cloud, IOT/ IIOT, Blockchain technologies, with significant global connect.
  • India has the critical mass of capability and capacity to ignite a national spirit of disruptive innovation to achieve and sustain overmatch in building cyber security. To achieve this it must unleash its power, based on its global technical resource pool, to build a formidable security industry with export potential of USD 35 billion by 2025.
  • Focus and Priority to Build Indigenous Capability and Capacity: Achieving self-reliance in cyber security, electronics and networking technologies is very crucial, and must be accorded the highest national priority. Accordingly, investments in building this capability are also critical.
  • Geo Political Dimension of Cyber Security: Medium and small economies have cyber security needs like those of large and developed countries, but cannot afford to build an in-house capability for the same. These countries therefore would heavily depend on those countries which possess cyber security capability and are aligned geo-strategically and geo-politically towards them. India is geo-strategically aligned to countries in the Indian Ocean Rim, Indo-Pacific, South and South East Asia, Middle East and Africa. This presents a unique opportunity for India to leverage its outreach initiatives to position these capabilities in geographies comprising of nearly 70 countries which are friendly and/or if significant strategic interest to India. This can be a game changer for India in geo-political and geo-strategic dimensions.
  • Need to Build Research & Development Eco-system: There is a need to build up and strengthen our cyber capability by identifying foundational research areas including science of cyber security., ideas, concepts and methods to forge relationships between cyber and defence systems such as electronic warfare and information operations. There is also a need to build a cohesive and contemporary cyber security community across government, industry and academia with global linkages.
  • Strategic Need for the Government to invest in building Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Cyber Security: There are numerous examples (Palantir, Google Earth, Keyhole, Fire Eye, Cloudera) in USA, China, Israel etc. where the governments have invested in equity and groomed such companies as core national assets in the private sector. Similarly, the Indian Government must take judicious steps to broaden, deepen and facilitate collaborations/ partnerships.

To summarize, India requires a national initiative to build cyber security capability. All stakeholders, namely, Govt., Private players, Education Institutes and the common man, have a role to play in creating an enabling eco-system. This initiative should be seen as a mega program, launched on an unprecedented scale, that should be developed and delivered on the lines of the country’s other initiatives like Swatch Bharat or Digital India. The success of this programme will have a key bearing on India becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025.

Authored by Lt Cdr. Pawan Desai (Retd), CISA, CBCP, Co-founder & CEO, MitKat Advisory Services


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