Ground Zero Summit

Posted by Amber Sinha at Dec 22, 2015 01:00 PM |
The Ground Zero Summit which claims to be the largest collaborative platform in Asia for cyber-security was held in New Delhi from 5th to 8th November. The conference was organised by the Indian Infosec Consortium (IIC), a not for profit organisation backed by the Government of India. Cyber security experts, hackers, senior officials from the government and defence establishments, senior professionals from the industry and policymakers attended the event.

Keynote Address

The Union Home Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, inaugurated the conference. Mr Singh described cyber-barriers that impact the issues that governments face in ensuring cyber-security. Calling the cyberspace as the fifth dimension of security in addition to land, air, water and space, Mr Singh emphasised the need to curb cyber-crimes in India, which have grown by 70% in 2014 since 2013. He highlighted the fact that changes in location, jurisdiction and language made cybercrime particularly difficult to address. Continuing in the same vein, Mr. Rajnath Singh also mentioned cyber-terrorism as one the big dangers in the time to come. With a number of government initiatives like Digital India, Smart Cities and Make in India leveraging technology, the Home Minister said that the success of these projects would be dependent on having robust cyber-security systems in place.

The Home Minister outlined some initiatives that Government of India is planning to take in order to address concerns around cyber security - such as plans to finalize a new national cyber policy. Significantly, he referred to a committee headed by Dr. Gulshan Rai, the National Cyber Security Coordinator mandated to suggest a roadmap for effectively tackling cybercrime in India. This committee has recommended the setting up of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I-4C). This centre is meant to engage in capacity building with key stakeholders to enable them to address cyber crimes, and work with law enforcement agencies. Earlier reports about the recommendation suggest that the I-4C will likely be placed under the National Crime Records Bureau and align with the state police departments through the Crime and Criminal Tracking and Network Systems (CCTNS). I-4C is supposed to be comprised of high quality technical and R&D experts who would be engaged in developing cyber investigation tools.

Other keynote speakers included Alok Joshi, Chairman, NTRO; Dr Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator; Dr. Arvind Gupta, Head of IT Cell, BJP and Air Marshal S B Dep, Chief of the Western Air Command.

Technical Speakers

There were a number of technical speakers who presented on an array of subjects. The first session was by Jiten Jain, a cyber security analyst who spoke on cyber espionage conducted by actors in Pakistan to target defence personnel in India. Jiten Jain talked about how the Indian Infosec Consortium had discovered these attacks in 2014. Most of these websites and mobile apps posed as defence news and carried malware and viruses. An investigation conducted by IIC revealed the domains to be registered in Pakistan. In another session Shesh Sarangdhar, the CEO of Seclabs, an application security company, spoke about the Darknet and ways to break anonymity on it. Sarangdhar mentioned that anonymity on Darknet is dependent on all determinants of the equation in the communication maintaining a specific state. He discussed techniques like using audio files, cross domain on tor, siebel attacks as methods of deanonymization. Dr. Triveni Singh. Assistant Superintendent of Police, Special Task Force, UP Police made a presentation on the trends in cyber crime. Dr. Singh emphasised the amount of uncertainty with regard to the purpose of a computer intrusion. He discussed real life case studies such as data theft, credit card fraud, share trading fraud from the perspective of law enforcement agencies.

Anirudh Anand, CTO of Infosec Labs discussed how web applications are heavily reliant on filters or escaping methods. His talk focused on XSS (cross site scripting) and bypassing regular expression filters. He also announced the release of XSS labs, an XSS test bed for security professionals and developers that includes filter evasion techniques like b-services, weak cryptographic design and cross site request forgery. Jan Siedl, an authority on SCADA presented on TOR tricks which may be used by bots, shells and other tools to better use the TOR network and I2P. His presentation dealt with using obfuscated bridges, Hidden Services based HTTP, multiple C&C addresses and use of OTP. Aneesha, an intern with the Kerala Police spoke about elliptical curve cryptography, its features such as low processing overheads. As this requires elliptic curve paths, efficient Encoding and Decoding techniques need to be developed. Aneesha spoke about an algorithm called Generator-Inverse for encoding and decoding a message using a Single Sign-on mechanism. Other subjects presented included vulnerabilities that remained despite using TLS/SSL, deception technology and cyber kill-chain, credit card frauds, Post-quantum crypto-systems and popular android malware.


There were also two panels organised at the conference. Samir Saran, Vice President of Observer Research Foundation, moderated the first panel on Cyber Arms Control. The panel included participants like Lt. General A K Sahni from the South Western Air Command; Lt. General A S Lamba, Retired Vice Chief Indian Army, Alok Vijayant, Director of Cyber Security Operation of NTRO and Captain Raghuraman from Reliance Industries. The panel debated the virtues of cyber arms control treaties. It was acknowledged by the panel that there was a need to frame rules and create a governance mechanism for wars in cyberspace. However, this would be effective only if the governments are the primary actors with the capability for building cyber-warfare know-how and tools. The reality was that most kinds of cyber weapons involved non state actors from the hacker community. In light of this, the cyber control treaties would lose most of their effectiveness.

The second panel was on the Make for India’ initiatives. Dinesh Bareja, the CEO of Open Security Alliance and Pyramid Cyber Security was the moderator for this panel which also included Nandakumar Saravade, CEO of Data Security Council of India; Sachin Burman, Director of NCIIPC; Dr. B J Srinath, Director General of ICERT and Amit Sharma, Joint Director of DRDO. The focus of this session was on ‘Make in India’ opportunities in the domain of cyber security. The panelist discussed the role the government and industry could play in creating an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs in skill development. Among the approaches discussed were: involving actors in knowledge sharing and mentoring chapters which could be backed by organisations like NASSCOM and bringing together industry and government experts in events like the Ground Zero Summit to provide knowledge and training on cyber-security issues.


The conference was accompanied by a exhibitions showcasing indigenous cybersecurity products. The exhibitors included Smokescreen Technologies, Sempersol Consultancy, Ninja Hackon, Octogence Technologies, Secfence, Amity, Cisco Academy, Robotics Embedded Education Services Pvt. Ltd., Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Skin Angel, Aksit, Alqimi, Seclabs and Systems, Forensic Guru, Esecforte Technologies, Gade Autonomous Systems, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), Indian Infosec Consortium (IIC), INNEFU, Forensic Guru, Event Social, Esecforte Technologies, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and Robotic Zone.

The conference also witnessed events such Drone Wars, in which selected participants had to navigate a drone, a Hacker Fashion Show and the official launch of the Ground Zero’s Music Album.