Centre for Internet & Society

The DSCI Best Practices Meet 2013 was organized on July 12, 2013 at Hyatt Regency, Anna Salai in Chennai. Kovey Coles attended the meet and shares a summary of the happenings in this blog post.

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

Last year’s annual Best Practices Meet, sponsored by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), was held in here in Bangalore, and featured CIS associates as panelists for an agenda focused mostly around mobility in technology. This year, the event was continued in nearby Chennai, where many of India’s top stakeholders in Cyber Security came together at the Hyatt hotel to discuss the modern cyber security landscape. Several of the key points of the day emphasized how the industry realm needed to be especially keen on Cyber Security today. Early speakers explained how many Cyber-Attacks occur as opportunistic attacks on financial institutions, and that these breaches often take months to be discovered, with the discovery usually being made by a third-party. For those reasons, it was repeatedly mentioned throughout the day that modern entities must anticipate attacks as inevitable, and prepare themselves to be able to respond and successfully bounce-back.

Several panelists of the event expanded upon the evolving challenges facing industries, and explained why service based industry continually grows more susceptible to Cyber-Attack. There were representatives from Microsoft, Flextronics, MyEasyDoc, and others, who explained how technological demands of modern consumers resulted inadvertently in weaker security. For example, with customers expecting real-time access to data rather than periodic data reports, i.e financial data reports, industries must now keep their data open, which weakens database security. Overall, the primary challenge faced by the industry was effectively summarized by Microsoft India CSO Ganapathi Subramaniam, stating that within web services, “Security and usability are inversely proportional.” Essentially, the more convenient a product, the less secure its infrastructure.

Despite discussion of the difficulties facing modern producers and consumers, there were undoubtedly highlights of optimism at the conference. A presentation by event sponsor Juniper Networks shed light on practices which combat Cyber-Attackers, including rerouting perceived Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and finger-printing suspected hackers through a series of characteristics rather than just IP addresses (these characteristics include browser version, fonts, Add-Ons, time zone, and more). Notably, there was a call for cooperation on all fronts in combatting Cyber-crime, for public-private partnerships (PPP), and many citizens stood and spoke on the behalf of civil society’s incorporation in the process as well. One speaker, Retired Brig. Abhimanyu Ghosh admirably tore down sector divisions in the face of Cyber-Security threats, saying “We all want to secure ourselves. It is not a question of industry versus government, government versus industry. Government needs industry, and industry needs government.”

Finally, a few speakers used their opportunity at the conference to highlight issues related to rights and responsibilities of both citizens and government in internet. Nikhil Moro, a scholar at the Hindu Center for Politics and Public Policy, spoke at length about the urgent condition of laws which undermine freedom of speech and freedom of expression in India, especially within while online. His talk, which occurred near the end of the event, stirred the crowd to discussion, and helped remind the attendees of the comprehensiveness of issues which demand attention in the realm of a growing internet presence.

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