‘Critical infrastructure, small businesses cyber vulnerable’

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Critical infrastructure
HUGE REQUIREMENT: Data Security Council of India predicts that the country needs one million cyber professionals by 2022.

Hyderabad: Cyber threats are on the rise both globally and in India. Critical infrastructure categories such as power, utilities, water treatment, industry manufacturing and automation are highly vulnerable for cyber threats. While large enterprises have invested in cyber security and defence, small businesses are not yet secured, points an expert.

India is short of the required cybersecurity professionals. According to Data Security Council of India (DSCI), the country needs one million professionals by 2022, whereas the nation has just around 10,000 now.

Sandeep K Shukla, head of Department of Computer Science and Engineering & joint coordinator, C3I Center, IIT Kanpur, told Telangana Today, “Power and water treatment facilities are easy targets. From the industry point of view, large businesses have money to deploy security tools while small and medium enterprises that are implementing automation do not have adequate tools or resources to invest in cybersecurity.”

“Institutions such as ours are making efforts to build the skill base. We are keen to introduce an M Tech and MS programme in cybsersecurity from 2020 onwards with intake of 25 to start with. IIT Kanpur’s Cyber Security and Cyber Defense of Critical Infrastructures (C3I) is focusing on power, industrial automation and water treatment now and there are serious plans to work on telecom, railway signaling and transport sectors,” he added.

In the coming 2-3 years, C3I aims to have tools and techniques that will allow IIT Kanpur to implement the cybsersecurity framework. There needs to be response, recovery and authentication tools and mechanisms.

Shukla informed, “We have plans to expand into new domains such as securing financial sector, railway signaling and air traffic control and are seeking right partners to achieve that.”

IIT Kanpur’s ties

IIT Kanpur has worked with the bourses to ensure cybersecurity, as per the SEBI directive. The institute is helping National Stock Exchange (NSE) in building cybsersecurity capabilities and also is offering security tools and products for intrusion detection and malware analysis.

In terms of industry ties, IIT Kanpur is working with Tech Mahindra and L&T in embedding cybersecurity component in their services.

“We are developing a honeypot technology (a trap that an IT professional lays for a malicious hacker, hoping that they will interact with it in a way that provides useful intelligence about origin and modus operandi). This will help the customers of Tech Mahindra. L&T is working with IIT Kanpur to set up a centre of excellence at the latter’s campus to cater to the needs of the company,” he informed.

IIT Kanpur has partnered with the DSCI for its upcoming national centre of excellence (CoE) for cybersecurity in Noida, as a research and development partner. The institute has also close ties with IIIT Allahabad for their M Tech programme. IIT Delhi is also planning to roll out M Tech, MS and PhD programmes in cybersecurity for which IIT Kanpur is extending its expertise.

There is also a need to create and nurture adequate faculty in cybsersecurity in addition to having higher academic programmes, Shukla points out.

Handholding startups

IIT Kanpur is in talks with the Centre to create an incubator dedicated to cybersecurity startups. It is also seeking specific funding from National Security Council.

The institute is also going to work with DSCI in helping startups in the cybersecurity space who are going to operate from Noida CoE, both in terms of expert advisory and mentorship.


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