Microsoft India, the National Association for Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), and the Indian government have jointly launched a three-year programme to train 1000 women engineering graduates in cyber security. The programme, which has been named Cyber Shikshaa, will be undertaken in ten locations across India and the trained graduates will be offered employment opportunities in Microsoft India.
Cyber Shikshaa, whose first phase will roll out in Noida, Patna, Hyderabad, and Mohali is open to women science graduates aged between 20 and 27. India witnessed at least one cyber-crime every 10 minutes during the first half of 2017 and Indian companies are struggling to strengthen their cyber-security teams due to resource shortages. This programme aims to bridge that gap and create employment opportunities in the field of cyber security.
According to recent reports, the number of internet users worldwide was 3.58 billion, up from 3.39 billion in the previous year. Easier access to computers, technological advancement, and an increased penetration of smart-phones have contributed to this increased internet usage. As of March 2017, there were approximately 731 million internet users in China and 287 million internet users in the United States. Subsequently, the global mobile data traffic is set to surpass 49 Exabyte per month in 2021, up from seven Exabyte per month as of 2016.
Social networking is one of the most popular online activities and Facebook is the most popular online network based on active usage. As of the fourth quarter of 2016, there were a total of roughly 1.86 billion monthly active Facebook users, accounting for almost half of internet users worldwide. With people investing more in online assets and technology evolving at rates faster than ever before, the opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit the situation is also increasing.
Dangers of online data
Smartphones have taken over the world. Most people think cyber security is all about keeping technology safe from online hackers but that is not the case. A missing cell phone is actually easier to hack as it already has all the information stored within.
Also having an iPad or iPhone means that it is probably connected by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Every individual has his own Internet of Things (IoT). IoT basically refers to the growing number of gadgets and devices that are being synced to the internet. All of these devices are increasingly interacting with each other online. This definitely makes things convenient for the vast majority of people, including cyber criminals trying to access information.
Negligence and social networking sites
The biggest danger is people readily making personal information available online which drastically increases the risk of falling prey to hacking. Popular social networking site Facebook recently said that it discovered a security breach which affected 50 million accounts. User data leaks, security breaches and the spread of misinformation have forced Facebook to confront hostile hearings and backlash from users. This breach adds to the concerns that the company is collecting too much personal information and not looking at its security. But this is not the first time Facebook has been in the news for the wrong reasons. The Cambridge Analytica scandal from earlier this year involved a developer handing over Facebook user profile information to a third party and that affected nearly 85 million people. But this recent breach is far worse because hackers were able to log in as the holder of the account giving them access to information that was not otherwise public. This is not the only case of high profile hacking. A 16-year-old Australian boy hacked into Apple’s mainframe, accessed customer accounts and downloaded internal files which included 90GB of secure files. When taken to court, the lawyer argued that his client had hacked into the Apple system as his client admired the company.
Online banking and money
Online banking offers people 24-hour access to their accounts. It is quick and convenient, allowing one to perform their transactions anywhere, anytime and from any computer with access to the internet. Due to the open nature of the internet, all web-based services such as online banking are inherently subject to risks. While most banks put in necessary security measures to safeguard against these risks, it is not possible to design a security system that will be completely impervious to hacking attempts. In what can surely be termed as one of the biggest-ever breaches of financial data in
India, debit cards of some 3.2 million users was compromised, enabling fraudsters to steal funds. The worst affected banks were said to be SBI, HDFC, ICICI, Yes Bank, and Axis Bank. The debit card breach, which happened between May and July of 2016, originated in a malware introduced in systems of Hitachi Payment Services. The company later acknowledged that a sophisticated malware injected into its network led to the breach.
Cyber-security in India
Cyber Shikshaa will comprise a four-month course with theory, case studies and hands-on projects managed by a group of training partners led by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, a research organisation of the ministry of electronics and information technology. Cyber Shikshaa will also include mentoring sessions and workshops with industry leaders as well as soft skills training and technical sessions by Microsoft's employee volunteers.
Anant Maheshwari, President of Microsoft India, recently told the press, “India is fast emerging as a prime destination for offshore cyber security research and development (R&D) as well as security operations centres. This will lead to the next wave of jobs - one we must be ready for, with a skilled work force.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs recently released a press statement outlining the current measures the government has taken to strengthen the country’s cyber security. It stated that it is planning to set up an autonomous body to deal with cyber security issues. The government approved a framework to enhance security in cyberspace for cyber security in the Indian cyberspace, with the National Security Council Secretariat functioning as the nodal agency. India is at present at number 23 of the UN Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) 2017. According to Gulshan Rai, the National Cyber Security Coordinator, it is not a desirable number but is much better than many of the countries on the list. He said that India’s target this year is to make it among the top 10.