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NASSCOM-DSCI Annual Information Security Summit 2015 - Notes

Posted by Sumandro Chattapadhyay at Jan 19, 2016 07:58 AM |
NASSCOM-DSCI organised the 10th Annual Information Security Summit (AISS) 2015 in Delhi during December 16-17. Sumandro Chattapadhyay participated in this engaging Summit. He shares a collection of his notes and various tweets from the event.
NASSCOM-DSCI Annual Information Security Summit 2015 - Notes

Annual Information Security Summit (AISS) 2015


Details about the Summit

Event page:



Notes from the Summit

Mr. G. K. Pillai, Chairman of Data Security Council of India (DSCI), set the tone of the Summit at the very first hour by noting that 1) state and private industries in India are working in silos when it comes to preventing cybercrimes, 2) there is a lot of skill among young technologists and entrepreneurs, and the state and the private sectors are often unaware of this, and 3) there is serious lack of (cyber-)capacity among law enforcement agencies.

In his Inaugural Address, Dr. Arvind Gupta (Deputy National Security Advisor and Secretary, NSCS), provided a detailed overview of the emerging challenges and framework of cybersecurity in India. He focused on the following points:

  • Security is a key problem in the present era of ICTs as it is not in-built. In the upcoming IoT era, security must be built into ICT systems.
  • In the next billion addition to internet population, 50% will be from India. Hence cybersecurity is a big concern for India.
  • ICTs will play a catalytic role in achieving SDGs. Growth of internet is part of the sustainable development agenda.
  • We need a broad range of critical security services - big data analytics, identity management, etc.
  • The e-governance initiatives launched by the Indian government are critically dependent on a safe and secure internet.
  • Darkweb is a key facilitator of cybercrime. Globally there is a growing concern regarding the security of cyberspace.
  • On the other hand, there exists deep divide in access to ICTs, and also in availability of content in local languages.
  • The Indian government has initiated bilateral cybersecurity dialogues with various countries.
  • Indian government is contemplating setting up of centres of excellence in cryptography. It has already partnered with NASSCOM to develop cybersecurity guidelines for smart cities.
  • While India is a large global market for security technology, it also needs to be self-reliant. Indian private sector should make use of government policies and bilateral trust enjoyed by India with various developing countries in Africa and south America to develop security technology solutions, create meaningful jobs in India, and export services and software to other developing countries.
  • Strong research and development, and manufacturing base are absolutely necessary for India to be self-reliant in cybersecurity. DSCI should work with private sector, academia, and government to coordinate and realise this agenda.
  • In the line of the Climate Change Fund, we should create a cybersecurity fund, since it is a global problem.
  • Silos are our bane in general. Bringing government agencies together is crucial. Trust issues (between government, private sector, and users) remain, and can only be resolved over time.
  • The demand for cybersecurity solutions in India is so large, that there is space for everyone.
  • The national cybersecurity centre is being set up.
  • Thinktanks can play a crucial role in helping the government to develop strategies for global cybersecurity negotiations. Indian negotiators are often capacity constrained.

Rajendra Pawar, Chair of the NASSCOM Cyber Security Task Force, NASSCOM Cybersecurity Initiative, provided glimpses of the emerging business opportunity around cybersecurity in India:

  • In next 10 years, the IT economy in India will be USD 350 bn, and 10% of that will be the cybersecurity pie. This means a million job only in the cybersecurity space.
  • Academic institutes are key to creation of new ideas and hence entrepreneurs. Government and private sectors should work closely with academic institutes.
  • Globally, cybersecurity innovation and industries happen in clusters. Cities and states must come forward to create such clusters.
  • 2/3rd of the cybersecurity market is provision of services. This is where India has a great advantage, and should build on that to become a global brand in cybersecurity services.
  • Everyday digital security literacy and cultures need to be created.
  • Publication of cybersecurity best practices among private companies is a necessity.
  • Dedicated cybersecurity spending should be made part of the e-governance budget of central and state governments.
  • DSCI should function as a clearing house of cybersecurity case studies. At present, thought leadership in cybersecurity comes from the criminals. By serving as a use case clearing house, DSCI will inform interested researchers about potential challenges for which solution needs to be created.

Manish Tiwary of Microsoft informed the audience that India is in the top 3 positions globally in terms of malware proliferation, and this ensures that India is a big focus for Microsoft in its global war against malware. Microsoft India looks forward to work closely with CERT-In and other government agencies.

The session on Catching Fraudsters had two insightful presentations from Dr. Triveni Singh, Additional SP of Special Task Force of UP Police, and Mr. Manoj Kaushik, IAS, Additional Director of FIU.

Dr. Singh noted that a key challenge faced by police today is that nobody comes to them with a case of online fraud. Most fraud businesses are run by young groups operating BPOs that steal details from individuals. There exists a huge black market of financial and personal data - often collected from financial institutions and job search sites. Almost any personal data can be bought in such markets. Further, SIM cards under fake names are very easy to buy. The fraudsters are effective using all fake identity, and is using operational infrastructures outsourced from legitimate vendors under fake names. Without a central database of all bank customers, it is very difficult for the police to track people across the financial sector. It becomes even more difficult for Indian police to get access to personal data of potential fraudsters when it is stored in a foreign server. which is often the case with usual web services and apps. Many Indian ISPs do not keep IP history data systematically, or do not have the technical expertise to share it in a structured and time-sensitive way.

Mr. Kaushik explained that no financial fraud is uniquely committed via internet. Many fraud begin with internet but eventually involve physical fraudulent money transaction. Credit/debit card frauds all involve card data theft via various internet-based and physical methods. However, cybercrime is continued to be mistakenly seen as frauds undertaken completely online. Further, mobile-based frauds are yet another category. Almost all apps we use are compromised, or store transaction history in an insecure way, which reveals such data to hackers. FIU is targeting bank accounts to which fraud money is going, and closing them down. Catching the people behind these bank accounts is much more difficult, as account loaning has become a common practice - where valid accounts are loaned out for a small amount of money to fraudsters who return the account after taking out the fraudulent money. Better information sharing between private sector and government will make catching fraudsters easier.

The session on Smart Cities focused on discussing the actual cities coming up India, and the security challenges highlighted by them. There was a presentation on Mahindra World City being built near Jaipur. Presenters talked about the need to stabilise, standardise, and securitise the unique identities of machines and sensors in a smart city context, so as to enable secured machine-to-machine communication. Since 'smartness' comes from connecting various applications and data silos together, the governance of proprietary technology and ensuring inter-operable data standards are crucial in the smart city.

As Special Purposed Vehicles are being planned to realise the smart cities, the presenters warned that finding the right CEOs for these entities will be critical for their success. Legacy processes and infrastructures (and labour unions) are a big challenge when realising smart cities. Hence, the first step towards the smart cities must be taken through connected enforcement of law, order, and social norms.

Privacy-by-design and security-by-design are necessary criteria for smart cities technologies. Along with that regular and automatic software/middleware updating of distributed systems and devices should be ensured, as well as the physical security of the actual devices and cables.

In terms of standards, security service compliance standards and those for protocols need to be established for the internet-of-things sector in India. On the other hand, there is significant interest of international vendors to serve the Indian market. All global data and cloud storage players, including Microsoft Azure cloud, are moving into India, and are working on substantial and complete data localisation efforts.

Mr. R. Chandrasekhar, President of NASSCOM, foregrounded the recommendations made by the Cybersecurity Special Task Force of NASSCOM, in his Special Address on the second day. He noted:

  • There is a great opportunity to brand India as a global security R&D and services hub. Other countries are also quite interested in India becoming such a hub.
  • The government should set up a cybersecurity startup and innovation fund, in coordination with and working in parallel with the centres of excellence in internet-of-things (being led by DeitY) and the data science/analytics initiative (being led by DST).
  • There is an immediate need to create a capable workforce for the cybersecurity industry.
  • Cybersecurity affects everyone but there is almost no public disclosure. This leads to low public awareness and valuation of costs of cybersecurity failures. The government should instruct the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to get corporates to disclose (publicly or directly to the Ministry) security breeches.
  • With digital India and everyone going online, cyberspace will increasingly be prone to attacks of various kinds, and increasing scale of potential loss. Cybersecurity, hence, must be part of the core national development agenda.
  • The cybersecurity market in India is big enough and under-served enough for everyone to come and contribute to it.

The Keynote Address by Mr. Rajiv Singh, MD – South Asia of Entrust Datacard, and Mr. Saurabh Airi, Technical Sales Consultant of Entrust Datacard, focused on trustworthiness and security of online identities for financial transactions. They argued that all kinds of transactions require a common form factor, which can be a card or a mobile phone. The key challenge is to make the form factor unique, verified, and secure. While no programme is completely secure, it is necessary to build security into the form factor - security of both the physical and digital kind, from the substrates of the card to the encryption algorithms. Entrust and Datacard have merged in recent past to align their identity management and security transaction workflows, from physical cards to software systems for transactions. The advantages of this joint expertise have allowed them to successfully develop the National Population Register cards of India. Now, with the mobile phone emerging as a key financial transaction form factor, the challenge across the cybersecurity industry is to offer the same level of physical, digital, and network security for the mobile phone, as are provided for ATM cards and cash machines.

The following Keynote Address by Dr. Jared Ragland, Director - Policy of BSA, focused on the cybersecurity investment landscape in India and the neighbouring region. BSA, he explained, is a global trade body of software companies. All major global software companies are members of BSA. Recently, BSA has produced a study on the cybersecurity industry across 10 markets in the Asia Pacific region, titled Asia Pacific Cybersecurity Dashboard. The study provides an overview of cybersecurity policy developments in these countries, and sector-specific opportunities in the region. Dr. Ragland mentioned the following as the key building blocks of cybersecurity policy: legal foundation, establishment of operational entities, building trust and partnerships (PPP), addressing sector-specific requirements, and education and awareness. As for India, he argued that while steady steps have been taken in the cybersecurity policy space by the government, a lot remains to be done. Operationalisation of the policy is especially lacking. PPPs are happening but there is a general lack of persistent formal engagement with the private sector, especially with global software companies. There is almost no sector-specific strategy. Further, the requirement for India-specific testing of technologies, according to domestic and not global standards, is leading to entry barrier for global companies and export barrier for Indian companies. Having said that, Dr. Ragland pointed out that India's cybersecurity experience is quite representative of that of the Asia Pacific region. He noted the following as major stumbling blocks from an international industry perspective: unnecessary and unreasonable testing requirements, setting of domestic standards, and data localisations rules.

One of the final sessions of the Summit was the Public Policy Dialogue between Prof. M.V. Rajeev Gowda, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and Mr. Arvind Gupta, Head of IT Cell, BJP.

Prof. Gowda focused on the following concerns:

  • We often freely give up our information and rights over to owners of websites and applications on the web. We need to ask questions regarding the ownership, storage, and usage of such data.
  • While Section 66A of Information Technology Act started as a anti-spam rule, it has actually been used to harass people, instead of protecting them from online harassment.
  • The bill on DNA profiling has raised crucial privacy concerns related to this most personal data. The complexity around the issue is created by the possibility of data leakage and usage for various commercial interests.
  • We need to ask if western notions of privacy will work in the Indian context.
  • We need to move towards a cashless economy, which will not only formalise the existing informal economy but also speed up transactions nationally. We need to keep in mind that this will put a substantial demand burden on the communication infrastructure, as all transactions will happen through these.

Mr. Gupta shared his keen insights about the key public policy issues in digital India:

  • The journey to establish the digital as a key political agenda and strategy within BJP took him more than 6 years. He has been an entrepreneur, and will always remain one. His approached his political journey as an entrepreneur.
  • While we are producing numerous digitally literate citizens, the companies offering services on the internet often unknowingly acquire data about these citizens, store them, and sometimes even expose them. India perhaps produces the greatest volume of digital exhaust globally.
  • BJP inherited the Aadhaar national identity management platform from UPA, and has decided to integrate it deeply into its digital India architecture.
  • Financial and administrative transactions, especially ones undertake by and with governments, are all becoming digital and mostly Aadhaar-linked. We are not sure where all such data is going, and who all has access to such data.
  • Right now there is an ongoing debate about using biometric system for identification. The debate on privacy is much needed, and a privacy policy is essential to strengthen Aadhaar. We must remember that the benefits of Aadhaar clearly outweigh the risks. Greatest privacy threats today come from many other places, including simple mobile torch apps.
  • India is rethinking its cybersecurity capacities in a serious manner. After Paris attack it has become obvious that the state should be allowed to look into electronic communication under reasonable guidelines. The challenge is identifying the fine balance between consumers' interest on one hand, and national interest and security concerns on the other. Unfortunately, the concerns of a few is often getting amplified in popular media.
  • MyGov platform should be used much more effectively for public policy debates. Social media networks, like Twitter, are not the correct platforms for such debates.