Blog

Security Challenges and Cyber security

SECURITY CHALLENGES & THEIR MANAGEMENT IN BORDER AREAS

India’s security perspectives is inevitably governed by the interplay of its domestic imperatives, regional balance of forces and the global challenges which impinge on its role and capabilities.

India with its size, resource potential and strategic location is being increasingly seen as a regional influential poised on the threshold of emerging as a centre of power in the new international order. This is as much a recognition of its credible democratic functioning as the potential of its vast economic resources and political clout. India is a large multiplural society which has been able to successfully manage the challenges emanating from regional, linguistic and religious diversities without damaging its national cohesiveness.

The remarkable resilience of its democratic functioning in a secular federal framework, despite some distortions, has continued to bely the scepticism of its worst critics.

India’s democracy remains fundamentally secure, underpinned as it is by an active judiciary, free media and a functioning and vigilant Opposition. India’s economic development has also remained steady over the years. In the last couple of years, the Indian economy has registered an impressive growth rate of 7 per cent. The expansion and diversification of its industrial capacity have made important strides. Currently India ranks among the topmost industrialised nations of the world. It has the distinction of having the third largest pool of trained and scientific manpower in the world. Agricultural production has also shown substantial growth resulting in not only self-sufficiency in food grains but also reserves of impressive buffer stocks.

Today with its burgeoning middle class, huge untapped markets for trade and industry, and large scale foreign investments, India has emerged as an economic power of some significance on the global scene. India has also built an impressive level defence capability. It has the fourth largest Army in the world with an impeccable professional record. It has a credible and self-reliant defence structure which has been built assiduously over the past three decades. India’s missile development programme has also grown apace underlining its indigenous technological capabilities.

It is clear that India is slated to play an increasingly larger role in the coming decades. Its future as a credible power would, however, depend as much on its ability to manage the present stage of transition as on the projection of its strategic perspectives and policy options for the future.

An overarching framework of India’s national security has to take cognisance of military and non-military dimensions in terms of both external threats and internal challenges to its territorial integrity and national unity. Threats to a nation emanate as much from external aggression as from internal strife but at times internal factors can erode national security more critically than any external danger. National power based on political stability, societal cohesion and economic development would thus remain central to the future of India’s national security.

India’s growing inability to manage political and economic challenges on the domestic front is a cause of deep concern. Although India’s national integrity remains fundamentally secure, pressures from fissiparous cleavages in growing challenges of communalism and religious fanaticism have acquired disturbing dimensions. Political manipulation of religious sentiments for narrow political ends has long-term implications for the future of India’s secular federal framework.

The incipient threats to Indian federal polity in many parts of the country are putting growing strains on the political structure. Although India has been so far able to manage these challenges with a certain skill and patience, there is growing anxiety about the pressures getting intensified at a time when there is a steady erosion in the state’s role in resolving conflict and bringing about social transformation. This is accompanied by a decline in the mediating role of the governing elite and party system. Decline in the state’s order and authority has led to greater violence outside the established political channels, compounding the general law and order situation.

Continuing civil strife and incipient secessionism poses a major problem for India’s national security. The north-east continues to be characterised by an uneasy peace. Although there is no full scale armed insurrection for secessionism as resorted to by the Nagas and Mizos in the Sixties, the problem of insurgency in Tripura, Manipur and Nagaland continues. Assam which had settled to a period of normal political functioning after the volatile agitation on the influx of foreign nationals in the early Eighties, is once again going although the fire of violence perpetrated by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) which is committed to armed struggle for the formation of a sovereign “ASOM”.

Punjab went through the unfortunate agony of sustained armed violence for over a decade before normal political processes were restored after heavy-handed crushing of Khalistan terrorists. The people of the state have, however, paid a heavy price for the then government’s short-sighted policies for narrow political ends which changed what was essentially a party agitation to a Sikh movement encompassing divergent orientation and rationales. This has important lessons for the future of Indian federal polity which can only be ignored at one’s own peril.

The situation in Kashmir remains a cause for deep and continuing concern. Mishandling of a brewing political crisis brought about by the state government’s dismal performance, marked by rampant corruption and inefficiency, led to an explosive situation in the sensitive valley. The eruption of violence in 1990 served to underline the appalling failure of the intelligence agencies and the complete isolation of the political and administrative machinery from the ground realities. In the event, alienation of large sections of the civil population and their growing sympathy for the militants left little meeting ground between the people and the government. The recent restoration of political processes in the state following Parliamentary and Assembly elections and the increased weariness of the people with economic dislocation and high-handed intrusion of outside militants is leading to a slow change in the equation of forces on the ground. But the overall situation remains precarious.

The process of rebuilding the sundered economic and political fabric in the state and winning over the confidence of its people for any worthwhile and lasting solution continues to remain in uphill task. There is no gainsaying that the problems facing Indian polity are enormous as evidenced by the persistence of insurgency and slow entrenchment of terrorism in several parts of the country. If left unresolved, these could critically jeopardise India’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity from within.

India shares its borders with seven other countries. Some of which are friendly and are easy to access and other are not so easy to cross. India borders in the North with Nepal, China and Bhutan. On Western side lays Pakistan. Myanmar and Bangladesh on East province. And Sri Lanka on South separated by sea. It is an International Border of 3,323 km long. There are 3 points of division.

Pakistan

First is Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir in India from Kashmir in Pakistan. Then is Wagah Border, which separates the Punjab state in India and Punjab Province of Pakistan, in the east. The third is the Zero Point that divides the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan to Sindh province of Pakistan, in the south.

The LoC is considered to be the highest tense border around the world. At the end of the LoC lies the Siachen Glacier which is located in the eastern Karakoram Range in the Himalaya Mountains. It is considered to be the highest battleground on Earth. Both the countries have maintained a permanent military existence at the height of over 6,000 m. Since 2007, India allows limited mountaineering and trekking trip to the area.

Bhutan

India and Bhutan shares 699 km long border and link up Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim. The entry points between these two countries are between Jaigaon in West Bengal, India and Phuntsholing in South West Bhutan. It is one of the friendly cross borders among the international borders of India.

People from India, Bangladesh and Maldives do not need visa for entering. Bhutan is a beautiful destination to visit lying in the Himalayas region. 

Nepal

It is one of the friendly borders of India. You can easily cross the borders. It shares 1,236 km border with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim. One can easily cross the countries without any visa or passport either by road or by flight.

China

India shares 3,380 km with China. The McMahon Line is a boundary between China and India. It is regarded by India as the legal national border, but is disputed by China. Indian nationals can visit China on tourist visa with a limit to 10 – 15 day. Nathu La Pass between Sikkim in India and Southern Tibet has recently reopened for trade between the two countries. This pass is not open for tourists.

Myanmar

Also known as India- Burma Border is 1,624 km long border. India shares 4 states with Myanmar, which are Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. Myanmar is also the part of India- Thailand highway. Moreh is on the India-Myanmar border. Since 2014, permit is necessary for crossing the boundaries.

Bangladesh

It is an international border that delineates six divisions of Bangladesh and India. It is the fifth longest land border in the world of 4,096-km long. It includes Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and West Bengal from India side and Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet and Chittagong from Bangladesh division.

The border has created a narrow strip known as “Siliguri Corridor” or “Chicken’s Neck.” The most common way to cross the border is through buses that operate from Kolkata, Siliguri and Agartala.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and India are separated by sea. It is believed that Adam’s Bridge, also known as Rama’s Bridge, or Rama, is a former land connection between the two countries. The bridge is built between Pamban Island (Rameswaram Island), lies in the coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, which is in Sri Lanka. The bridge is of 30 km long.

Challenges

Indo- Bangladesh Border

India and Bangladesh are separated by a 4098-km border passing through flat and hilly terrain, rivers and jungles. In some parts, the border passes through heavily populated areas with cultivation extending to the very edge of the border. Border pillars remain the only identification of the international boundary. What makes the areas abutting the border both interesting and complex is that the communities who straddle the political boundary are of the same ethnic stock, with common language, traditions and culture. Since there are countless streams and rivulets, it is not easy to establish and maintain border pillars on these river islands or chars. Varying seasons make it even more difficult to identify where Bangladesh begins. Many of these islands, clearly visible during the dry seasons, disappear when the monsoons arrive with thunderclaps. 

This makes effective patrolling difficult in these areas. It however encourages smugglers of all kinds—trading in contraband and cattle. The matter of cattle smuggling would have remained a law and order problem but for the incidents of firing by the Indian security forces in which Bangladeshis have died. Bangladesh has accused the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), the paramilitary unit tasked with manning the International Boundary, of killing its citizens. The Indian authorities have strongly refuted these allegations, justifying the firing as preventive action to stop smugglers and other criminals from trespassing into India. The Indian authorities assert that the attacks on the border personnel by the smugglers have increased in recent years, forcing the soldiers to resort to firing.

These accusations and counter-accusations have further deepened suspicion and bitterness between the two neighbours. Although there are no official statistics either from Bangladesh or India about the number of people killed or their nationalities, NGOs in Bangladesh claim that over 1000 Bangladeshis have been killed on the border between 2001 and 2010. This figure could be exaggerated but it has led to a great deal of resentment in Bangladesh. There is no denying that deaths do take place on the border and one of the main reasons is the rampant smuggling of cattle.

Attempts have been made to arrive at a comprehensive settlement of the land boundary between India and Bangladesh (the erstwhile East Pakistan) since 1947. The Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958 and the Agreement Concerning the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and Related Matters of 1974 (referred to as 1974 LBA) sought to find a solution to the complex nature of the border demarcation involved. However, three outstanding issues pertaining to an un-demarcated land boundary of approximately 6.1 km, exchange of enclaves and adverse possessions remained unsettled. The Protocol (referred to as the 2011 Protocol) to the 1974 LBA, signed on 6th September 2011 during the visit of the Prime Minister to Bangladesh, paves the way for a settlement of the outstanding land boundary issues between the two countries.

This historic agreement will contribute to a stable and peaceful boundary and create an environment conducive to enhanced bilateral cooperation. It will result in better management and coordination of the border and strengthen our ability to deal with smuggling, illegal activities and other trans-border crimes In building this agreement, the two sides (India and Bangladesh) have taken into account the situation on the ground and the wishes of the people residing in the areas involved. As such, the 2011 Protocol does not envisage the displacement of populations and ensures that all areas of economic activity relevant to the homestead have been preserved.

The 2011 Protocol has been prepared with the full support and concurrence of the State Governments concerned (Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal). In planning the agreement, an elaborate process of consultation with people in the areas involved was carried out, including through the visit of an India–Bangladesh delegation to some of the enclaves and Adverse Possessions in May, 2007. The feedback received indicated that the people residing in the areas involved did not want to leave their land and would rather remain in the country where they had lived all their lives. The views of the concerned State Governments in favour of realigning the boundary to maintain status quo in respect of territories in adverse possession were also taken into account.

Although this was contrary to the 1974 LBA, which stipulated the exchange of territories in adverse possession, both sides decided that to avoid large scale uprooting and displacement of populations against their wishes, it would be necessary to preserve the status quo and retain the adverse possessions as would be determined through joint surveys. The 2011 Protocol accordingly departs from the 1974 LBA in seeking to maintain the status quo of adverse possessions instead of exchange of territories in deference to the wishes of the people to remain in their land. 4 Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement

The 2011 Protocol will result in a fixed demarcated boundary in all the un-demarcated segments, exchange of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh with 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India and a resolution of all adversely possessed areas. In the exchange of enclaves, India will transfer 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh, while Bangladesh would transfer 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India.

Indo- Nepal Border

India shares a 1751 Km long border with Nepal. Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim are the States, which share the border with Nepal.

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is the Border Guarding Force at IndoNepal Border. Border Out Posts SSB has established 474 Border Out Posts (BOPs) on Indo-Nepal border.

The Government of India has approved construction of 1377 km of roads along Nepal border at a total cost of Rs.3853 crore, in the States of Uttarakhand (length 173 km, cost Rs.530 crore), Uttar Pradesh (length 640 km; cost Rs.1621 crore) & Bihar (length 564 km; cost Rs.1702 crore).

The previous mandate, which was in effect from 1981 to 2007, saw the countries settle 97 percent of border discrepancies using modern technology.

The topic of the border with India is a hot-button issue in Nepal; many feel that the current border does not protect Nepali sovereignty. There are a couple swathes of land that both countries claim.

But with renewed talks comes new hope that India will focus its attention and investment in its backyard. Earlier this month, the two countries signed the Indo-Nepal Power Trade Agreement, which appears more favorable to water-rich Nepal than previous agreements.

Two areas in particular strike a chord in Nepal: Kalapani and Susta, which lie on the western and eastern border of Nepal, respectively.

Kalapani, which is where India, China, and Nepal meet, has a strategic military position and has been held by India’s Indo-Tibetan border security forces since the 1962 war with China. The Mahakali River defines the border in Kalapani, but India and Nepal each claim the river originates in different places, thus the conflict.

In eastern Susta, the Narayani river forms the Indian-Nepali border. But several large floods have re-shaped the river, causing a 14,500 hectare Indian encroachment into Nepal. Here, again, Nepalese are sensitive to the perceived threat to their sovereignty. According to reports, lands disputes among locals are usually won by Indian nationals who have the support of the armed Indian Border Police Force (Seema Sashastra Bal) SSB.

Indo- Bhutan Border

India shares a 699 Km long border with Bhutan. Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are the States, which share the border with Bhutan. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is the Border Guarding Force at Indo-Bhutan Border. SSB has established 131 Border Out Posts (BOPs) out of 132 sanctioned on Indo-Bhutan border.

The 1949 Friendship Treaty has guided the contemporary Indo-Bhutan relationship, ensuring India’s non-interference in Bhutan’s internal affairs, while Article 2 of the treaty critically gave India a role in guiding Bhutan’s foreign policy.

Bhutan is bounded on three sides by India. From east to west, the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh (formerly the North-East Frontier Agency) border Bhutan. In view of the long-standing political disputes and border confrontations between India and China, Bhutan has long been part of India’s strategic defense plan. In the view of some Indian strategists, Bhutan was a weak link in India’s defense against China.

The key document guiding relations with India was the Treaty of Friendship Between the Government of India and the Government of Bhutan of 1949. The ten-article treaty, in force in perpetuity, called for peace between the two countries and assures Indian noninterference in Bhutan’s internal affairs in return for Bhutan’s agreeing “to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations” (Article 2).

The treaty provided for compensation by India at a higher rate than provided in the 1865 and 1910 British treaties, and it returned Bhutan’s Dewangiri territory seized by Britain in the Duar War. It also guaranteed free trade between the countries and duty-free transit across India of Bhutan’s imports. Furthermore, the treaty assures the rights of citizens of each country and the extradition of criminals seeking refuge in either country.

Following Britain’s victory in the 1865 Duar War, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding land to British India. Ugyen WANGCHUCK – who had served as the de facto ruler of an increasingly unified Bhutan and had improved relations with the British toward the end of the 19th century – was named king in 1907. Three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs, and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs.

Indo -Myanmar Border

India shares a 1643 km long border with Myanmar. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram are the States, which share the border with Myanmar. The State-wise length of the borders is as under

Assam Rifles has been deployed for counter-insurgency and border guarding role on this border. Out of sanctioned strength of 46 battalions, 31 battalions are for counter-insurgency and 15 are for border guarding role. Presently, all 15 border guarding battalions are deployed along IndoMyanmar border on Company Operating Base (COB) approach, not as per the BOP system. The companies are deployed on all routes of ingress/egress and are checking infiltration, smuggling of arms, ammunition, drugs, fake currency notes etc.

The ministry of home affairs is considering the creation of a 29-battalion India-Myanmar Border Force from the corps of the Assam Rifles and the Indo-Tibetan Border Force to patrol India’s 1,643-km long mountainous border with Myanmar to curtail drugs and arms smuggling and also crimp the activities of Manipuri and Naga insurgents who take advantage of the porous border.

The new force will patrol right up to the border. Currently, the 46-battalion strong Assam Rifles safeguards this border but patrols up to 500 meters from the so-called zero line, which leaves the border partly porous.

This will ensure that ITBP not only patrols the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control with China but also the border with Myanmar. “The proposal will be put up before the Union Cabinet after due diligence and obtaining the views of the forces guarding the Indian borders,” said a senior Home Ministry official, who asked not to be identified.

Border management between the two sides has been framed around a range of concerns, from the security threat India perceives from insurgent groups in India’s northeast to the regulation of local economic activity between people on both sides of the border, which is of interest from both sides to unlock the opportunities of cross-border connectivity while managing the challenges it poses.

Of late, however, the focus has also been on the Rohingya crisis, with local Indian politicians in particular playing up fears about illegal immigration and the resulting security consequences.

India has also begun to take some steps along both the India-Myanmar and India-Bangladesh borders to manage any potential infiltration, including the deployment of more personnel and technology and the mulling of new methods of regulation.

Despite these challenges, India and Myanmar have also slowly continued to move forward on specific elements of border management, be it movement toward the opening of new border points or alignment on visa regulations.

India – Pakistan Border

In 1949, following the first India-Pakistan War the UN Ceasefire Line was accepted as the line of administrative control for defense purposes. In 1972 the Shimla Agreement was signed by India and Pakistan and the Line of Control was recognized as the “line of Conflict’, not an international border, but one that protects the recognized position of both nations. The UN map of Pakistan clearly demarcates the LOC as per the Shimla Agreement and places a disclaimer that the international boundary as shown is not an endorsement by the UN.

All neutral agencies follow the UN lead and map the Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir region as disputed territory. The United Nations’ stand is not an official endorsement of the territorial authority by either nation, nor does the international community accept any demarcation till the two nations have reached an agreement.

It is called the Radcliffe Line, which is the boundary demarcation between India and Pakistan established on 17 August 1947. It is named after its architect, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was the then chairman of the Border Commissions. This line has a very interesting story, so interesting that it affects the lives of over a billion people till this day, 70 years after it was drawn.

For one, the architect of the border line, Sir Radcliffe had never been to India and had no prior knowledge of the history of the place. Without such knowledge, it becomes far more difficult to draw border lines without fueling sectarian violence.

Moreover, the decision was made in haste and Radcliffe himself had resorted to truism that no matter what he did, people would suffer. He was eager to leave India as early as possible and thus he left on the day of Independence itself, without waiting to oversee the situation.

The border between India and Pakistan is divided in two parts. It is international border, where it is well defined at time of partition of sub continent,, and Line of control (LOC), where cease fire took place, and we are in actual control. LOC is in J&K, where part of J&K is in Pak control.

Indo- China Border

What is commonly referred to as the “border dispute” between India and China manifests itself in two distinct and separate areas of contention. One is Aksai Chin, a virtually uninhabited high-altitude desert expanse of about 37,000 square kilometres. The other is what is now the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a diversely populated hill region with a population of around 1.4 million people spread out over 84,000 square kilometres, much of which China claims as Lower Tibet.

Aksai Chin lies between the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and China’s Xinjiang province, both regions that are also riven by separatist conflicts as well as India’s long-running dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.

Arunachal Pradesh borders Tibet, which has its own separatist movement. India claims that these borders were agreed between British India and the independent or semi-independent authorities in Xinjiang and Tibet in the early days of the last century. China does not agree with this argument.

Both countries agree that these are legacies of history and cannot be solved in the short or medium term and are best left for the future.

But what causes friction between the two is that they do not have agreed a Line of Actual Control (LAC) to separate the jurisdictions under the control of their armies. The perceptions of the LAC differ at many places. In some places it might be by just a few metres, and elsewhere by tens of kilometres.

To minimise the risk of tensions caused by regular patrols by the two sides’ security forces, they have a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement that sets out the norms of behaviour for both sides. The most important elements are that nothing of a permanent nature will be built on these disputed areas, and that the patrols take every precaution to ensure they do not confront each other. This means that if they come face to face they will both withdraw. The corollary to this is that the patrols will not follow each other.

The agreement also requires local commanders to frequently meet and exchange views and sort out their local differences. Despite the adverse geographical and climatic conditions, and the overarching tensions between Asia’s biggest economies, the troops on the ground are able to show surprising bonhomie and friendliness towards each other.

But periodically, either due to a misunderstanding or local posturing by either side, there are frictions that threaten to erupt into conflict. But it has not happened since 1967 when the two armies fought a fierce localised battle in the Sikkim sector.

The two countries are gripped by a strong nationalism, bordering on jingoism, which makes give and take, so vital in the resolution of such vexatious disputes, extremely difficult.

CHALLENGES TO COASTAL SECURITY AND ISLAND TERRITORIES

India’s long coastline presents a variety of security challenges including illegal landing of arms and explosives at isolated spots on the coast, infiltration/ex-filtration of anti-national elements, use of the sea and off shore islands for criminal activities, and smuggling of consumer and intermediate goods through sea routes.

Absence of physical barriers on the coast and presence of vital industrial and defence installations near the coast also enhance the vulnerability of the coasts to illegal cross-border activities. In addition, the Indian Ocean Region is of strategic importance to India’s security. A substantial part of India’s external trade and energy supplies pass through this region. The security of India’s island territories, in particular, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, remains an important priority. Drug trafficking, sea-piracy and other clandestine activities such as gun running are emerging as new challenges to security management in the Indian Ocean region.

With a 7,517-km long coastline, India sits centrally at the crossroads of trans-Indian Ocean routes. Most cargo ships that sail between East Asia, America, Europe and Africa pass through Indian territorial waters. This has contributed hugely to India’s growth and played a significant role in making India one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This statement may be further substantiated by the fact that around 95% of India’s trade by volume and 70% by value is done through maritime transport. However, India’s vast coastline and island territories also make it susceptible to attacks, infiltration for smuggling and terrorism, and other security threats.

In the wake of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008, the government took several measures to strengthen coastal and maritime security along the entire coast as well as island territories. The ongoing Coastal Security Scheme (CSS) was augmented with plans to build more coastal police stations (CPSs) and surveillance infrastructure. Phase I of the scheme, with an estimated expenditure of 495 crore INR, was completed in 2011 and Phase II, with a budgeted outlay of 1,579 crore INR, is expected to be completed by 2020.

The Government of India (GoI) launched a scheme for the issuance of biometric identity (ID) cards to coastal fishermen at a total cost of 72 crore INR. Eight coastal radars have been set up within the frameworks of the National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) programme to help counter potential infiltration from terrorists and pirates.

Due to the coordinated efforts of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard (ICG), marine police and other Central and state agencies, the overall maritime security is much stronger than before. However, our experience and interactions with the industry suggest that many challenges in the domain are yet to be addressed. Foremost among these is the lack of integrated coordination between multiple stakeholders, resulting in limited focus from the Central and state governments towards the execution of coastal security measures. Unavailability of critical technology infrastructure like surveillance mechanisms to monitor coastal security across coastal states and union territories (UTs) leads to gaps in security that need to be filled at the earliest

India’s coastline and island territories

India has a coastline of 7,517 km, of which the mainland accounts for 5,422 km. The Lakshadweep coast extends for 132 km and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a coastline of 1,962 km. The Indian coastline is distributed among nine coastal states and four UTs, and almost the entire coast of India falls within the tropics. The nine coastal states are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. India also has large coastal wetlands, which cover an area of over 41,401 km², which is 27.13% of the total area covered by wetlands in India. India’s inland wetlands, on the other hand, cover 1,05,649 km².

Most cargo ships that sail between East Asia, America, Europe and Africa pass through Indian territorial waters. According to the Ministry of Shipping (MoS), around 95% of India’s trade by volume and 70% by value is done through maritime transport. Special economic zones (SEZs) are being developed in close proximity to several ports, thereby providing a logistical advantage to industries within these zones.

The government has announced plans to develop 14 coastal economic zones (CEZs) in a phased manner for port-led development in all of the nine maritime states. According to the Maritime Zone Act, 1976, the maritime zones of India are divided into five Coast Guard regions, with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) responsible for the enforcement of maritime zones.

The five regions are North-West, West, East, North-East and Andaman and Nicobar, with the respective regional headquarters located at Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Port Blair. The regions are further divided into twelve Coast Guard ‘districts’, one each for the nine coastal states on the mainland, two in the Andaman and Nicobar region and one at Kavaratti in the Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands. In addition, there are Coast Guard Air Stations (CGASs) and Coast Guard Air Enclaves (CGAEs) for air operations from various locations along the coastline.

There are presently 12 major ports and 200 notified minor and intermediate ports in India. The 200 non-major ports are in the following states: Maharashtra (48), Gujarat (42), Tamil Nadu (15), Karnataka (10), Kerala (17), Andhra Pradesh (12), Odisha (13), Goa (5), West Bengal (1), Daman and Diu (2), Lakshadweep (10), Pondicherry (2), and Andaman and Nicobar (23). Apart from five main fishing harbours— Mangalore (Karnataka), Kochi (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Raichak in Kolkata (West Bengal). Further, 23 minor fishing harbours and 95 fish-landing centres are designated to provide landing and berthing facilities to fishing craft.

The coastal areas are safeguarded by the police forces of the respective coastal states and UTs, which have jurisdiction of up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from the coast. India, a traditionally maritime country with a rich maritime heritage, has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nm from its coast. India is currently seeking to extend its EEZ to 350 miles. The ICG and the Indian Navy have jurisdiction over the entire maritime zone up to 200 nm, including the 12 nm of territorial waters.

MONEY LAUNDERING AND ITS PREVENTION

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of creating the appearance that large amounts of money obtained from criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist activity, originated from a legitimate source. The money from the illicit activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” the money to make it look clean.

Illegally earned money needs laundering in order for criminal organization to use it effectively. Dealing in large amounts of illegal cash is inefficient and dangerous. The criminals need a way to deposit the money in financial institutions, yet they can only do so if the money appears to come from legitimate sources.

There are three steps involved in the process of laundering money: placement, layering and integration. Placement refers to the act of introducing “dirty money” (money obtained through illegitimate, criminal means) into the financial system in some way. Layering is the act of concealing the source of that money by way of a series of complex transactions and bookkeeping tricks. Integration refers to the act of acquiring that money in purportedly legitimate means.

Money-Laundering Tactics

There are many ways to launder money, ranging from simple to complex. One of the most common ways to launder money is through a legitimate cash-based business owned by a criminal organization. For instance, if the organization owns a restaurant, it might inflate the daily cash receipts to funnel its illegal cash through the restaurant and into the bank. Then they can distribute the funds to the owners out of the restaurant’s bank account. These types of businesses are often referred to as “fronts.”

Another common form of money laundering is called smurfing, where a person breaks up large chunks of cash into multiple small deposits, often spread out over many different accounts, to avoid detection. Money laundering can also be done through the use of currency exchanges, wire transfers, and “mules” or cash smugglers, who smuggle large amounts of cash across borders to deposit them in offshore accounts where money-laundering enforcement is less strict.

Other money-laundering methods involve investing in commodities such as gems and gold that can be easily moved to other jurisdictions, discretely investing in and selling valuable assets such as real estate, gambling, counterfeiting and creating shell companies.

While traditional money-laundering methods are still used, the internet has put a new spin on an old crime. The use of the internet allows money launderers to easily avoid detection. The rise of online banking institutions, anonymous online payment services, peer-to-peer transfers using mobile phones and the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin have made detecting the illegal transfer of money even more difficult. Moreover, the use of proxy servers and anonymizing software makes the third component of money laundering, integration, almost impossible to detect, as money can be transferred or withdrawn leaving little or no trace of an IP address.

In many ways, the new frontier of money laundering and criminal activity lays in cryptocurrencies. While not totally anonymous, these forms of currencies are increasingly being used in currency blackmailing schemes, drug trade and other criminal activities due to their anonymity compared to other forms of currency.

Money can also be laundered through online auctions and sales, gambling websites and even virtual gaming sites, where ill-gotten money is converted into gaming currency, then transferred back into real, usable and untraceable “clean” money.

Anti-money-laundering laws (AML) have been slow to catch up to these types of cybercrimes, since most AML laws attempt to uncover dirty money as it passes through traditional banking institutions. As money launderers attempt to remain undetected by changing their approach, keeping one step ahead of law enforcement, international organizations and governments are working together to find new ways to detect them.

Combating Money Laundering

The government has become increasing vigilant in its efforts to combat money laundering over the years by passing anti-money-laundering regulations. These regulations require financial institutions to have systems in place to detect and report suspected money-laundering activities.

In 1989, the Group of Seven (G-7) formed an international committee called the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in an attempt to fight money laundering on an international scale. In the early 2000s, its purview was expanded to combating the financing of terrorism.

Impact of Money Laundering

According to a 2016 survey from PwC, global money laundering transactions account for roughly 2% to 5% of global GDP, or roughly $1 trillion to $2 trillion annually.

Although the act of money laundering itself is a victimless, white-collar crime, it is often connected to serious and sometimes violent criminal activity. Being able to stop money laundering is, in effect, being able to stop the cash flows of criminals, including international organized crime.

Money laundering also impacts legitimate business interests by making it much more difficult for honest businesses to compete in the market since money launderers often provide products or services at less than market value. Where a financial institution or business is also regulated by the government, money laundering, or a failure to put reasonable anti-laundering policies in place, can result in a revocation of a business charter or government licenses.

Businesses that associate with people, countries or entities that launder money face the possibility of fines. Deutsche Bank, ING, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group are among institutions that have been fined for being involved with transactions associated with money-laundering activities in countries such as Iran, Libya, Sudan and Russia.

In one famous money-laundering case, international bank HSBC was fined for a failure to put proper anti-money laundering measures in place. According to the U.S. federal government, HSBC was guilty of little or no oversight of transactions by its Mexican unit that included providing money-laundering services to various drug cartels involving bulk movements of cash from HSBC’s Mexican unit to the Unites States.

The government said HSBC failed to maintain proper records as part of its AML measures. This included a huge backlog of unreviewed accounts and a failure by HSBC to file suspicious activity reports. After a year-long investigation, the federal government indicated HSBC had failed to comply with U.S. banking laws and consequently subjected the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious traveler’s checks and bearer share corporations. In 2012, the bank agreed to pay $1.92 billion in fines to U.S. authorities.

United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime. Established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention, UNODC operates in all regions of the world through an extensive network of field offices. UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90 per cent of its budget.

UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. In the Millennium Declaration, Member States also resolved to intensify efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, to redouble the efforts to implement the commitment to counter the world drug problem and to take concerted action against international terrorism.

The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:

  1. Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism
  2. Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions
  3. Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies

In pursuing its objectives, UNODC makes every effort to integrate and mainstream the gender perspective, particularly in its projects for the provision of alternative livelihoods, as well as those against human trafficking.

The international community confronts a host of menaces, including illicit drugs, threats to security and health and new and emerging crimes. As Governments and other development partners increasingly look to UNODC for specialized assistance and expertise, the Office has expanded it scope and volume of work to provide comprehensive and coherent responses to these challenges.

UNODC has released a new Menu of Services published in October 2010, which provides a detailed overview of how clients can access targeted assistance or the range of publications and online tools available

UNODC can help in the following areas:

  1. Organized crime and trafficking UNODC helps Governments react to the instability and insecurity caused by crimes like the smuggling of illicit drugs, weapons, natural resources, counterfeit goods and human beings between countries and continents. It is also addressing emerging forms of crime, such as cybercrime, trafficking in cultural artefacts and environmental crime.
  2. Corruption: Corruption is a major impediment to economic and social development, UNODC partners with the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, to loosen the grip that corrupt individuals have on government, national borders and trading channels. In recent years, the Office has stepped up its efforts to help States recover assets stolen by corrupt officials.
  3. Crime prevention and criminal justice reform: UNODC promotes the use of training manuals and the adoption of codes of conduct and standards and norms that aim to guarantee that the accused, the guilty and the victims can all rely on a criminal justice system that is fair and grounded on human rights values. A strong rule of law will also instill confidence among citizens in the effectiveness of the courts and the humanness of the prisons.
  4. Drug abuse, prevention and health: Through educational campaigns and by basing its approach on scientific findings, UNODC tries to convince youth not to use illicit drugs, drug-dependent people to seek treatment and Governments to see drug use as a health problem, not a crime.
  5. Terrorism prevention: On this issue, UNODC is moving towards a more programmatic approach that involves developing long-term, customized assistance to entities involved in investigating and adjudicating cases linked to terrorism.

Reasons for Indian’s vulnerability to money laundering

Money Laundering refers to the conversion of money which has been illegally obtained, in such a way that it appears to have originated from a legitimate source. In India, money laundering is popularly known as Hawala transactions. It gained popularity during early 1990s when many of the politicians were caught in its net.

Hawala is an alternative or parallel remittance system. “Hawala” is an Arabic word meaning the transfer of money or information between two persons using a third person. The system dates to the Arabic traders as a means of avoiding robbery. It predates western banking by several centuries. The Hawala Mechanism facilitated the conversion of money from black into white. Black money refers to funds earned, on which income and other taxes have not been paid. Black money is earned through illegally traded goods or services.

Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is a region in Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar that is infamously known as a production region of drugs. Historically, the area was famous for its opium production and drug trade including drug trafficking, violence and people smuggling. Opium has been used as a recreational drug in South East Asia since the 1800’s when the Opium Wars occurred.

The Opium Wars took place between the Chinese and British traders after the traders began to smuggle opium into India and China with the goal of generating cash and as payment for tea purchases. The result was high addictions and unsettled situations in China who began to enforce serious drug penalties and sparked the Opium Wars. Production of opium continued to be a profitable business and demand for the product in Asia did not wane after the Opium Wars. Production increased dramatically during the 1950’s in the region of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar and huge amounts of money flooded into the region, hence the term, the Golden Triangle.

The governments of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar are all fighting the war against drug producers and traffickers of opium, but more increasingly methamphetamine. In the 1990’s the governments successfully cracked down on producers and traffickers of opium which resulted in a significant reduction in the cultivation in the area. But the reductions that were made in this region for opium resulted in the explosion of opium growing in Afghanistan. Today, Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium in the world after Afghanistan.

The rapid decline in production of opium left farmers and communities in Myanmar and Laos with a gap in crop production. This gap has been partially filled by legal cash crops and initiatives, however there are questions about the sustainability of these communities. Some have turned to production of new drugs due to the need for them to be able to sustain themselves, support families and be able to afford food, housing and water. That gap appears to have been filled by methamphetamine.

There has been a global increase in the use and manufacture of methamphetamines in the last 10 years, and particularly so in Southeast Asia. The drug is easily produced in clandestine setups from easy to procure chemicals. For people in Laos, Myanmar and parts of Thailand, the drug has a bigger financial return that traditional crops, requires less labor and is easier to manufacture. According to the UNODC, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand are vulnerable to manufacture of methamphetamine due to the availability of precursor chemicals, demand and because organized criminal groups target the region.

Methamphetamine is a popular drug in Asia because of the stimulative affects the drug produces. The drug can be snorted, smoked, swallowed or injected, making it easy and available for any drug user to consume. The drug increases energy and stamina which are particularly relevant and accepted, side effects especially to farmers and workers in the region. But affluent urbanites also enjoy the effects of the drug on weekends and to help them work harder and faster.

Methamphetamine, however, is highly addictive, dangerous and can cause significant social, family and mental problems. Withdrawals are painful and long lasting. Fatigue, apathy, depression and other health conditions can last for a long time. And the financial cost of attending rehabilitation programs is often out of the question for people in regional or rural areas.

Golden Crescent

The Golden Crescent is a mountainous area of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan where opium has been grown for hundreds of years. This area has been a main source of supply of heroin to the UK.

It is the name given to Asia’s principal areas of illicit opium production , located at the crossroads of Central, South and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent. Though only Afghanistan and Pakistan produce opium, with Iran being a consumer and trans-shipment route for the smuggled opium.

PREVENTION OF MONEY LAUNDERING

Laws against Money Laundering in India

Article 1 of EC Directive on Prevention of the use of the Financial System for the Purpose of Money Laundering, 1991 defines the term ‘money laundering’ as “the conversion of property, knowing that such property is derived from serious crime, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of assisting any person who is involved in committing such an offence or offences to evade the legal consequences of his action, and the concealment or disguise of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement, rights with respect to, or ownership of property, knowing that such property is derived from serious crime”.

The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) an intergovernmental body established by the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989 and responsible for setting global standards on anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism defines money laundering as the processing of criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin in order to “legitimize” the ill-gotten gains of crime.”

India became the 34th country member of the Financial Action Task Force in 2010. India is also a signatory to various United Nations Conventions which deal with anti money laundering and countering financing of terrorism.

India has criminalised money laundering under both the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), as amended in 2005 and 2009, and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act), as amended in 2001.

In India, before the enactment of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, a number of statutes addressed scantily the issue in question. These statutes were The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974,The Income Tax Act, 1961,The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988,The Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973,The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 is sought to be further amended by the The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011 hereinafter referred to as the ‘Bill’, which has been introduced by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011.

The Bill proposes to introduce the concept of ‘corresponding law’ to link the provisions of Indian law with the laws of foreign countries. It also adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary or a person carrying on a designated business or profession. The Bill expands the definition of offence under money laundering to include activities like concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 levies a fine up to Rupees five lakhs. The Bill proposes to remove this upper limit of fine.

The Bill seeks to provide for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person for a period not exceeding 180 days if the authority has reason to believe that the offense of money laundering has taken place. The Bill proposes to confer powers upon the Director to call for records of transactions or any additional information that may be required for the purposes of investigation. The Director may also make inquiries for non-compliance of the obligations of the reporting entities. The Bill seeks to make the reporting entity, its designated directors on the Board and employees responsible for omissions or commissions in relation to the reporting obligations.

The Bill states that in the proceedings relating to money laundering, the funds shall be presumed to be involved in the offence, unless proven otherwise. The Bill proposes to provide for appeal against the orders of the Appellate Tribunal directly to the Supreme Court within 60 days from the communication of the decision or order of the Appellate Tribunal. The Bill seeks to provide for the process of transfer of cases of the Scheduled offences pending in a court which had taken cognizance of the offence to the Special Court for trial. In addition, on receiving such cases, the Special Court shall proceed to deal with it from the stage at which it was committed. The Bill also proposes to bring all the offences mentioned under Part A of its Schedule to ensure that the monetary thresholds do not apply to the offence of money laundering.

Money Laundering is a global menace that cannot be contained by any nation alone. The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2011 was necessitated in view of India being an important member of the Financial Action Task Force and to bring prevention of money laundering legislation on par with global norms. The said Bill is still pending for approval in the Parliament.

CYBER SECURITY

Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. In a computing context, security includes both cybersecurity and physical security.

Ensuring cybersecurity requires coordinated efforts throughout an information system.

End-user education

One of the most problematic elements of cybersecurity is the quickly and constantly evolving nature of security risks. The traditional approach has been to focus most resources on the most crucial system components and protect against the biggest known threats, which necessitated leaving some less important system components undefended and some less dangerous risks not protected against. Such an approach is insufficient in the current environment.

According to Forbes, the global cybersecurity market reached $75 billion for 2015 and is expected to hit $170 billion in 2020.

Methods of Attacks

  1. Malware

Malware is an all-encompassing term for a variety of cyber threats including Trojans, viruses and worms. Malware is simply defined as code with malicious intent that typically steals data or destroys something on the computer. Malware is most often introduced to a system through email attachments, software downloads or operating system vulnerabilities.

The best way to prevent malware is to avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown senders. This is sometimes done by deploying robust and updated firewalls, which prevent the transfer of large data files over the network in a hope to weed out attachments that may contain malware.

  1. Phishing

Often posing as a request for data from a trusted third party, phishing attacks are sent via email and ask users to click on a link and enter their personal data. Phishing emails have gotten much more sophisticated in recent years, making it difficult for some people to discern a legitimate request for information from a false one. Phishing emails often fall into the same category as spam, but are more harmful than just a simple ad.

Phishing emails include a link that directs the user to a dummy site that will steal a user’s information. In some cases, all a user has to do is click on the link.

  1. Password Attacks

A password attack is exactly what it sounds like: a third party trying to gain access to your systems by cracking a user’s password. This type of attack does not usually require any type of malicious code or software to run on the system. There is software that attackers use to try and crack your password, but this software is typically run on their own system. Programs use many methods to access accounts, including brute force attacks made to guess passwords, as well as comparing various word combinations against a dictionary file.

Strong passwords are really the only way to safeguard against password attacks. This means using a combination of upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers and having at least eight characters or more. As a point of reference, an attacker using a brute force password cracking program, can typically unlock a password with all lower case letters in a matter of minutes. It’s also recommended not to use words found in the dictionary, no matter how long they are; it just makes the password attacker’s job easier.

  1. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

A DoS attack focuses on disrupting the service to a network. Attackers send high volumes of data or traffic through the network (i.e. making lots of connection requests), until the network becomes overloaded and can no longer function.

There are a few different ways attackers can achieve DoS attacks, but the most common is the distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. This involves the attacker using multiple computers to send the traffic or data that will overload the system. In many instances, a person may not even realize that his or her computer has been hijacked and is contributing to the DDoS attack.

Disrupting service can have serious consequences relating to security and online access. Many instances of large scale DoS attacks have been implemented as a sign of protest toward governments or individuals and have led to severe punishment, including jail time.

The best way to prevent an additional breach is to keep your system as secure as possible with regular software updates, online security monitoring and monitoring your data flow to identify any unusual or threatening spikes in traffic before they become a problem. DoS attacks can also be perpetrated by simply cutting a cable or dislodging a plug that connects your website’s server to the internet, so due diligence in physically monitoring your connections is recommended as well.

  1. “Man in the Middle” (MITM)

By impersonating the endpoints in an online information exchange (i.e. the connection from your smartphone to a website), the MITM can obtain information from the end user and the entity he or she is communicating with.

Normally, a MITM gains access through a non-encrypted wireless access point (i.e. one that doesn’t use WAP, WPA, WPA2 or other security measures). They would then have access to all of the information being transferred between both parties.

The best way to prevent them is to only use encrypted wireless access points that use WPA security or greater. If you need to connect to a website, make sure it uses an HTTPS connection or, for better security, consider investing in a virtual private network (VPN). HTTPS uses certificates that verify the identity of the servers you’re connecting to using a third-party company such as VeriSign, while VPNs allow you to connect to websites through virtual private networks.

  1. Drive-By Downloads

Through malware on a legitimate website, a program is downloaded to a user’s system just by visiting the site. It doesn’t require any type of action by the user to download. Typically, a small snippet of code is downloaded to the user’s system and that code then reaches out to another computer to get the rest and download the program. It often exploits vulnerabilities in the user’s operating system or in different programs, such as Java and Adobe.

Budapest convention

The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention, is the first international treaty seeking to address Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. It was drawn up by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States.

The Convention and its Explanatory Report was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at its 109th Session on 8 November 2001. It was opened for signature in Budapest, on 23 November 2001 and it entered into force on 1 July 2004. As of December 2016, 52 states have ratified the convention, while a further four states had signed the convention but not ratified it.

Since it entered into force, important countries like Brazil and India have declined to adopt the Convention on the grounds that they did not participate in its drafting. Russia opposes the Convention, stating that adoption would violate Russian sovereignty, and has usually refused to cooperate in law enforcement investigations relating to cybercrime.

On 1 March 2006, the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime came into force. Those States that have ratified the additional protocol are required to criminalize the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems, as well as threats and insults motivated by racism or xenophobia.

EXISTING COUNTER CYBER SECURITY INITIATIVES

The number of cyber security incidents has gradually increased in India over the last few years. As per the information collected by India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in), 44,679, 49,455 and 50,362 cyber security incidents took place in India during the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. These incidents include phishing, website intrusions and defacements, virus and denial of service attacks amongst others.

As per the ‘2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: India’ the average total cost of a data breach paid by Indian companies increased by 9.5 percent, while the per capita cost increased by 8.7 percent and the average size of a breach grew by 8.1 percent. Although, the government has taken certain cyber security initiatives as discussed below, more expansive and aggressive measures are required to meet the rising challenges.

Government Initiatives

National Cyber Security Policy, 2013:

The Government of India took the first formalized step towards cyber security in 2013, vide the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Department of Electronics and Information Technology’s National Cyber Security Policy, 2013.

The Policy is aimed at building a secure and resilient cyberspace for citizens, businesses and the Government. Its mission is to protect cyberspace information and infrastructure, build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber attacks, and minimise damages through coordinated efforts of institutional structures, people, processes, and technology.

The objectives of the policy include creating a secure cyber ecosystem, compliance with global security standards, strengthen the regulatory framework, creating round the clock mechanisms for gathering intelligence and effective response, operation of a National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre for 24×7 protection of critical information infrastructure, research and development for security technologies, create a 500,000 strong cyber security workforce, to provide fiscal benefits to businesses for adopting cyber security practices, to build public private partnerships for cooperative cyber security efforts.

Some of the strategies adopted by the Policy include:

  1. Creating a secure cyber ecosystem through measures such as a national nodal agency, encouraging organisations to designate a member of senior management as the Chief Information Security Officer and develop information security policies.
  2. Creating an assurance framework.
  3. Encouraging open standards.
  4. Strengthening the regulatory framework coupled with periodic reviews, harmonization with international standards, and spreading awareness about the legal framework.
  5. Creating mechanisms for security threats and responses to the same through national systems and processes. National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) functions as the nodal agency for coordination of all cyber security efforts, emergency responses, and crisis management.
  6. Securing e-governance by implementing global best practices, and wider use of Public Key Infrastructure.
  7. Protection and resilience of critical information infrastructure with the National Critical .Information Infrastructure Protection Centre operating as the nodal agency.
  8. To promote cutting edge research and development of cyber security technology.
  9. Human Resource Development through education and training programs to build capacity.

In 2014, the Prime Minister’s Office created the position of the National Cyber Security Coordinator. In 2016, in response to the intrusions by infamous hacker group ‘Legion’, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued several orders and directives. These included use of the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) to audit the financial sector, review and strengthening of the IT Act, directives to social networking site Twitter to strengthen its network, and directives to all stakeholders of the financial industry including digital payment firms to immediately report any unusual incidents.

Some agencies that deal with cyber security in India are National Technical Research Organisation, the National Intelligence Grid, and the National Information Board. In 2016, India’s first chief information security officer (CISO) was appointed with the aim of enhancing cyber security in the country and subsequently all ministries were asked to appoint Central Information Security Officers. To address cyber security issues in India, government has recently introduced some other important measures as discussed below.

Cyber Swachhta Kendra’ (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre)

To combat cyber security violations and prevent their increase, Government of India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) in February 2017 launched ‘Cyber Swachhta Kendra’ (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) a new desktop and mobile security solution for cyber security in India.

The centre is operated by CERT-in under Section 70B of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The solution, which is a part of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s Digital India initiative, will detect botnet infections in India and prevent further infections by notifying, enable cleaning and securing systems of end-users. It functions to analyze BOTs/malware characteristics, provides information and enables citizens to remove BOTs/malwar and to create awareness among citizens to secure their data, computers, mobile phones and devices such as home routers.

The Cyber Swachhta Kendra is a step in the direction of creating a secure cyber ecosystem in the country as envisaged under the National Cyber Security Policy in India. This centre operates in close coordination and collaboration with Internet Service Providers and Product/Antivirus companies to notify the end users regarding infection of their system and providing them assistance to clean their systems, as well as industry and academia to detect bot infected systems. The center strives to increase awareness of common users regarding botnet, malware infections and measures to be taken to prevent malware infections and secure their computers, systems and devices.[5]

The Centre offers the following security and protective tools:

  1. “USB Pratirodh”, was also launched by the government which, Union IT and Electronics Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad states is aimed at controlling the unauthorised usage of removable USB storage media devices like pen drives, external hard drives and USB supported mass storage devices.
  2. An app called “Samvid” was also introduced. It is a desktop based Application Whitelisting solution for Windows operating system. It allows only preapproved set of executable files for execution and protects desktops from suspicious applications from running.
  3. M-Kavach, a device for security of Android mobile devices has also been developed.[7]It provides protection against issues related to malware that steal personal data & credentials, misuse Wi-Fi and Bluetooth resources, lost or stolen mobile device, spam SMSs, premium-rate SMS and unwanted / unsolicited incoming calls.
  4. Browser JSGuard, is a tool which serves as a browser extension which detects and defends malicious HTML & JavaScript attacks made through the web browser based on Heuristics. It alerts the user when he visits malicious web pages and provides a detailed analysis threat report of the web page.
  5. Collaboration with industry partners
  6. Development of Public Private Partnerships is an important strategy under the National Cyber Security Policy 2013. Pursuant to this aim, under the aforementioned Cyber Swachhta Kendra initiative, antivirus company Quick Heal is providing a free bot removal Tool.

To combat the ever-evolving techniques of cyber intrusions, the government also recognises the need for working in collaboration with industry partners. Consequently, Cisco and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) whereby a threat intelligence-sharing programme will be established, wherein personnel from Cisco and CERT-In will work collectively to tackle digital threats and develop and incorporate new ways to improve cybersecurity.[8]

International Cooperation Initiatives

Information sharing and cooperation is an explicit strategy under the 2013 Policy. Consequently, as an answer to the increasing international nature of cyber crime, the Indian government has entered into cyber security collaborations with countries such as the USA, European Union and Malaysia. The U.K. has agreed to assist in developing the proposed National Cyber Crime Coordination Centre in India. The shared principles of the U.S.-India Cyber Relationship Framework provide for the recognition of the leading role for governments in cyber security matters relating to national security; a recognition of the importance of and a shared commitment to cooperate in capacity building in cyber security and cyber security research and development, and A desire to cooperate in strengthening the security and resilience of critical information infrastructure.

The areas of corporation provide inter alia that both countries agree to share and implement cybersecurity best practices, share cyber threat information on a real-time basis, develop joint mechanisms to mitigate cyberthreats, promote cooperation between law enforcement agencies and improve their capacity through joint training programs, encourage collaboration in the field of cybersecurity research, and Strengthening critical Internet infrastructure in India.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *