Centre for Internet & Society

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) organized a conference on facing cyber threats and challenges at Hotel Hilton in Chennai on July 13, 2013. Kovey Coles attended this conference and shares a summary of the event in this blog post.

This research was undertaken as part of the 'SAFEGUARDS' project that CIS is undertaking with Privacy International and IDRC

The conference hosted by CII in the Hotel Hilton, was well attended, and featured a range of industry experts, researches and developers, and members of the Indian armed forces.

Participants focused on the importance of Indian entities reaching new, adequate levels of cyber security. It was stated early in the event that India is one of the world's most targeted areas for cyber-attacks, and its number of domestic internet users is known to be rapidly increasing in an age which many view as a new era of international information warfare. Despite this, the speakers considered India to be too far behind other countries in its understanding of cyber security. In the opening remarks, CII Chairman Santhanam implored "We need hard core techies in this field… we are not producing them." Another speaker, Savitha Kesav Jagadeesan, a practicing lawyer in Chennai, asked if India would wait until the "9/11 of cyberspace" occurrence before we establish the same level of precautionary measures online as it exists now in transportation security.

With the presence of both the government’s executive forces and the private industries, the aura circulating the conference room was that of a collective Indian defense, a secure nation only achieved through both secure governmental and industrial aspects. Similar to the previous day’s DSCI cyber security conference, many speakers discussed security issues pertinent to the financial and banking industries, and other cyber crimes which had pecuniary goals. For people seeking to avoid the array of scams and frauds online, some talks shared some of the most basic advice, like safe password practices. "Passwords are like toothbrushes," said A.S. Murthy of the CDAC, "use them often, never share them with anyone, change them often." Other talks went into the intricacies of various hacking schemes, including tab-nabbing and Designated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, describing their tactics and how to moderate them.

In the end, the conference had certainly informed the attendees of the goals, and the challenges, that India will face in the coming months and years. The speakers (all of them) showed how the world of cyber security was quickly evolving, and demonstrated the imperative in government and industry entities evolving their own practices and defenses in stride. The ambitions of several presentations matched the well-publicized "5 lakh cyber professionals in 5 years" plan, placing a strong emphasis in the current and future training of young students in cyber security. Ultimately, I think, the conference helped convince that cyber security is neither a futile, nor completely infallible concept. As CISCO Vice President Col. K.P.M. Das said towards the end of the evening, the most ideal form of cyber security is truly "all about trust, the ability to recover, and transparency/visibility."

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