Govt. to develop software to control cyber attacks

Posted: May 12, 2010 in Cyter Security, Internet

After growing worries over the cyber attacks on the Indian establishments, the government has planned to develop its own software and end the dependence on foreign operating systems and anti virus products. The government has formed a high level team to develop the plan for building software.

According to a report by Harsimran Singh and Thomas Philip of Economic Times, the panel will suggest different ways to conduct third-party audits on existing software in government offices to prevent online sabotage attempts until the software’s launch.

Followed by the cyber attacks by China based hackers, the Defence Ministry raised concerns over use of anti-virus products of foreign vendors and hence the government acted actively by forming a task force to get over with the problem. Hackers from Pakistan and terrorist organizations too have stepped up attacks on Indian websites in recent years. The taskforce is expected to submit its recommendations by June.

A technical head of a U.S. based network security firm said that it is very much in favour of the government to devise its own software for the operations. The person also added that it will give it the independence of customizing it according to its needs.

India is now making a late scramble to join nations that own both hardware and software technology critical for the safe upkeep of their defence, space and nuclear programmes. The government recently sanctioned Rs. 50 crore to design an indigenous microprocessor.

The government’s unease with foreign technology and hardware has been on the rise in recent years. Recently, it warned telcos against installation of foreign gear. Last week, Junior Minister for Communications & Information Technology Sachin Pilot told the Rajya Sabha about several measures the government has taken to detect and prevent cyber attacks.

No sensitive information will be stored on systems connected to the internet, while ministries and departments have been told to carry out regular IT systems audits. The government has also established a Crisis Management Plan against cyber attacks to be implemented by all central ministries, state governments and critical sectors, he said.

Last week, US counter terrorism head in the Clinton and Bush regimes, Richard Clarke, warned nations of an ‘electronic Pearl Harbour’ that can shut down power, transportation, communication and all money from banks and exchanges. He said a massive cyber attack could paralyse the U.S. in 15 minutes.

The defence ministry has already removed many of its computers off the internet. Its officers can’t carry pen drives inside offices. The government has also decided to connect all key government ministries and offices, which number over 5,000, to an alternate exclusive communication network that is being built for the armed forces. This will provide a secure backup during emergencies, or at times when the networks of private telecom operators cannot be used to transmit sensitive information.

State-owned BSNL and MTNL are building the Rs 10,000-crore, 40,000 km alternate-fibre network. The armed forces will shift a bulk of their communication needs to this network, thereby enabling them to vacate huge chunks of radio frequencies or spectrum they occupy for commercial telephony.

Globally, most operating systems and anti-virus software are linked via the internet. This ensures that as soon as security loopholes are found in browsers, operating systems or a product software, companies start installing and updating them online.

But glitches can still occur. Last week, US-based McAfee, the world’s second-largest anti-virus software maker, sent an update that started to recognise a genuine file as fake. This resulted in millions of computers getting shut down by themselves. The errors were rectified later.

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