27 Nov 2017 16:47 IST

‘Cyber threats will be a big form of terror for the world’

'You have to minimise the risks,' says Chairman of MitKat Advisory Services

Indian cyber security is just about “satisfactory”, but “needs to be good”, says former army man Lt Gen (retd) Sudhir Sharma. Now the Chairman of Mumbai-based MitKat Advisory Services, a risk management consultancy, Sharma says a digital India will invite new threats. However, India has to keep investing in cyber security to stay ahead of the curve. India reportedly faced nearly 27,000 cyber attacks in 2017 itself. On the sidelines of the Horasis Asia Meeting, Sharma spoke to BusinessLine about the growing threats to India’s cyber security systems, the need to minimise such risks and how the country has been faring so far in this regard.

How do you see India’s cyber security preparation in today’s context?

Cyber threats are going to become a big form of terror, to India and to the world. You have to minimise the risks. The government should have enough power and technology available to mitigate the threats to tolerable levels.

When you create the architecture (for cyber defence), India and its people should be on top for creating that system.

In the global context, how do you rate India’s cyber security preparations?

Overall, it is just satisfactory. It needs to be good.

Is India ready to take the different security threats arising nowadays?

India underplays its abilities. We have the architecture. From the military perspective, I will be happy if a little more is done to create a holistic, strong and impregnable cyber-shield. At the moment, I see there is a lot of potential, which needs to be harmonised.

So as a former army man, what is your suggestion?

Network-centric warfares will soon take place. Everything will depend on communication and network. So the Army itself should be creating a cyber-space command over a period of time to look after this. These are early days, but we have to be very cautious of the fact that cyber security will play a very dominant role in making our weapon systems.

India is conscious of the threats then?

It is very conscious of the threats. There is enough technology available in India. But, it is not putting all its resources together and optimising them.

What about the funds required for tackling cyber threats?

Status quo is not an option. Trillions of dollars are going to be lost through cyber threats. That is scary. So it is imperative that we, as a country, create both the software and hardware. India is positioning itself to be a big economy and we need to be ahead of the game.

Any particular geography that can be identified as potential threat zones?

The threats are building up from independent hackers in China and Korea. In rest of the regions, the threats are not so palpable or strong. See hacking is a small issue. Cyber threat is a more serious issue. As an army man, I am more concerned that our complete defence platforms — our carriers, nuclear submarines, our strategic assets — must be protected and firewalled.

But do you see the need to have a global cyber security law which has all nations on board?

It is utopian. It is going to be difficult as countries are very protective about their cyber security laws. I do not see countries like India, China, Korea, Russia or others coming together and compromising to deal with cyber security. It is good thought (a global cyber security law), but very difficult to handle.

(The article first appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine.)