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You don’t wanna cry

You don’t wanna cry
Highlights

The world has embraced the digital way of life like never before. From banking to buying vegetables online, the cyber world has become an essential part of our daily life these days. Healthcare services will come to a standstill and transportation networks will collapse around the world if the computers and the software that operates them don’t function properly. 

The world has embraced the digital way of life like never before. From banking to buying vegetables online, the cyber world has become an essential part of our daily life these days. Healthcare services will come to a standstill and transportation networks will collapse around the world if the computers and the software that operates them don’t function properly.

To put it bluntly, our life comes to a standstill if the cyber world halts even for a second. This has amply been proved when ransomware named WannaCry raised its ugly head last week. Ransomware is a type of malware designed to block access to a computer system until some ransom is paid.

WannaCry crippled computers in over 100 countries, sending shivers down businesses and governments alike. In this case, cyber attackers demanded a ransom starting from $300. At the last count, they collected nearly $70,000 in ransom which was paid in Bitcoins. But the damage the attack caused was huge.

Luckily, India has not been affected the way some countries like the United Kingdom whose National Health Services (NHS) was suspended and even surgeries postponed as most of its systems were corrupted by the malware. Barring isolated attacks in AP, Kerala and Gujarat states, India has not experienced any major damage.

The country has escaped from the malicious software partly due to an outdated software ecosystem it has. But the latest attack should be a wake-up call for the country. Though known for its software development prowess and IT industry which took roots in 1990s, India did not have a cyber security policy till three years ago.

The National Cyber Security Policy announced by the Centre in July 2013 enunciated several objectives. Strengthening the regulatory framework for ensuring a secure cyberspace ecosystem and creating a workforce of 5 lakh cyber security professionals in the country in five years are among the policy’s key objectives. But India still doesn’t have many cyber security professionals.

Experts feel that there is an urgent need to update the policy framework and make concerted and committed efforts to develop robust cyber security systems in the country. Hopefully, the governments at the Centre and in the states heed their advice and strengthen India’s cyber borders.

The other area that requires the immediate attention of the policymakers is to increase insurance coverage for cyber attacks. According to insurance industry estimates, less than 300 cyber liability insurance policies have been sold in the country so far and most of the companies are from software and financial technology space.

With rise in malware attacks, business entities face increasing risks in cyber space. Such attacks may lead to operational and other serious interruptions. Therefore, insurance coverage against cyber attacks is going to be essential for them.

For India, there is also an urgent need for robust cyber security protocols, adequate number of cyber security professionals and empowered regulatory framework to protect its cyberspace. Otherwise, the country will be on tenterhooks whenever ransomware-like attacks take place.

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