Indian government needs to worry about rising cyber-security

The demonetization drive by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck at a time when banks in the country are still in the process of updating their security architecture for online operations. Now with the cashless motive of the government, more and more people are making use of plastic money and e-wallet which increases the risk of cyber attack all the more. Banking sector thus faces the challenge of fending off cyber attacks in the wake of rising digital transactions.

Paytm, a digital wallet platform, has registered a 435 per cent rise in its traffic and a 1,000 percent jump in online recharges in the two days following a ban on high-value currency bills. Another mobile wallet Ola Money has reported a 1,500 per cent increase in recharges across the 102 cities of its operation since the day.

In today’s tech era, our digital identities are immensely linked to our actual personas.

Last week, a handful of personal and institutional twitter handles and emails were hacked. Cyber fiends also broke into the official website of main opposition party, Congress and hacked the twitter handle of party’s vice-president, Rahul Gandhi. The repeated cyber invasions prompted senior leaders to question digital safety at a time Modi has been urging his fellow citizens to go cashless.

Incidents like this have happened across the world, hackers have been brought to book, hackers have got away.

While people are mostly looking at these as mere Twitter hacks, an intrusion into the virtual social existence and email accounts of a person exposes the personal data as well and it can be an attack on the person’s identity, personality, private life and more dangerously, financial profile.

While the nation is still not questioning these hacks as a society, it poses a bigger threat to the future of cyber security and it is scary that our society is happy to live with a constant threat to our digital security.

Do we really have a robust banking network spread inclusively in all parts of the country as has been claimed by our finance minister, Arun Jaitley? India still isn’t prepared to imbibe the language of technology in day to day life but the policy has forced people to resort to e-banking mode.

Despite India’s prowess in information technology, a major worry is that most banks and financial institutions have until recently underestimated cyber-security as a threat. Just a simple SMS from a bank stating your bank balance could end up being a key to exploiting you, email access is like opening the entire door.

Data and information security are particularly weak in India. Many firms take months before undertaking the required security upgrades. There is a need to upgrade cyber-security infrastructure as data from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) shows a 69 per cent increase in cyber-crimes in recent years.

To top all the risk is the weak policy of government against cybercrime which needs to be strengthened if Mr Modi really needs to develop India as a strong cashless country. Even misuse of a digital wallet should be dealt with in the toughest way to send a message that cyber security is not something that can be messed with.

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