India is on its way to becoming a digital-first economy. As the nation and its citizens slowly embraced the digital way of life over the last decade, everything has become faster, easier, and more convenient. However, there is one major caveat that comes with digital ecosystems that include millions of people and businesses – the rise of cyberattacks on an unprecedented scale. As the country becomes more and more digitally empowered, it can’t afford to overlook the ever-growing threat to cybersecurity.
According to The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the country has fallen prey to 23 large scale cyber-attacks between May 2006 and June 2020. It places the country third on the list of countries experiencing the most significant cyberattacks across the world.
Today, cyber attacks range from seeding malware and ransomware to more sophisticated attacks such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) and Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS). With time, the threats will only grow, evolving in scope, technique, and sophistication. Here are some trends affecting cyberspace that digital India needs to watch out for:
Implementation of 5G
The rollout of 5G technology is going to make cyberspace more vulnerable. It enables faster data transmission and wider bandwidth. With 5G, it will become easier for cyber criminals to infiltrate personal and business networks through connected devices and sensors.
Continuous improvement of AI can become a double-edged sword. Cyber criminals can use it to carry out more complex and sophisticated attacks. On the other hand, cybersecurity professionals can leverage the power of AI to stay ahead of threats. With threat intelligence, they can identify and remediate threats in a shorter time.
Growing Reliance on Cloud
Individuals and organizations have been growing more and more dependent on cloud technology. The work-from-home era has seen rapid cloud migration, which will continue in 2021 and beyond. This is set to create more security holes, mis-configuration issues, and outages.
Cybersecurity Skill Gap
The skill gap is another issue. In India, the demand for cybersecurity professionals exceeds supply and this gap will widen as cyberattacks are going to be on the rise. NASSCOM Cybersecurity Task Force has estimated that India will need 1 million well-trained cybersecurity professionals by the year 2025. If organizations are to protect themselves, making sufficient investment in in-house cybersecurity training is essential.
The need for cybersecurity training
Beside technological advancement, increased usage of mobile apps and connected devices have percolated the issue of cybersecurity into day to day life. It can be only addressed through combined participation and sustained efforts from individuals, businesses, and the government.
Organizations can only protect themselves by building cyber resilience. And education remains to be the first step. Every member of an organization has to understand the roles and responsibilities and do their part in implementing cyber hygiene.
Besides basic staff training, organizations need skilled full-time professionals devoted to cybersecurity. Their SOC team must have members who are adept in configuring and using threat detection tools, analyzing data, interpreting the results to identify vulnerabilities of applications and systems. The front-line professionals need to be well-trained in identifying red flags and addressing them as quickly as possible. They can master their craft by using a cyber range, a simulated, controlled environment that extends hand-on proficiency through hyper-realistic attack scenarios.
Fortunately, as India undergoes a digital transformation, both the private and public sectors are waking to the issue of cybersecurity. Businesses, even the small ones are devoting more resources to cyber education and training. However, they must match their preparedness with evolving threats if they are to safeguard the integrity of the digital ecosystem.
(Rakesh Kharwal is Managing Director – India at Cyberbit and the views expressed in this article are his own)