Cert-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) has recently issued the “Guidelines on Information Security Practices” for Government Entities for Safe & Trusted Internet. The guideline has come at a critical time when the Draft Digital India Bill is about to be released, which is aimed at revamping the legal aspects of Indian cyberspace. These guidelines lay down the policy framework and the requirements for critical infrastructure for all government organisations and institutions to improve the overall cyber security of the nation.
What is Cert-In?
A Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a group of information security experts responsible for the protection against, detection of and response to an organisation’s cybersecurity incidents. A CERT may focus on resolving data breaches and denial-of-service attacks and providing alerts and incident handling guidelines. CERTs also conduct ongoing public awareness campaigns and engage in research aimed at improving security systems. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) oversees CERT-In. It regularly releases alerts to help individuals and companies safeguard their data, information, and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) infrastructure.
Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has been established and appointed as national agency in respect of cyber incidents and cyber security incidents in terms of the provisions of section 70B of Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.
CERT-In requests information from service providers, intermediaries, data centres, and body corporates to coordinate reaction actions and emergency procedures regarding cyber security incidents. It is a focal point for incident reporting and offers round-the-clock security services. It manages cyber occurrences that are tracked and reported while continuously analysing cyber risks. It strengthens the security barriers for the Indian Internet domain.
India is fast becoming one of the world’s largest connected nations – with over 80 Crore Indians (Digital Nagriks) presently connected and using the Internet and cyberspace – and with this number is expected to touch 120 Crores in the coming few years. The Digital Nagriks of the country are using the Internet for business, education, finance and various applications and services including Digital Government services. Internet provides growth and innovation and at the same time it has seen rise in cybercrimes, user harm and other challenges to online safety. The policies of the Government are aimed at ensuring an Open, Safe & Trusted and Accountable Internet for its users. Government is fully cognizant and aware of the growing cyber security threats and attacks.
It is the Government of India’s objective to ensure that Digital Nagriks experience a Safe & Trusted Internet. Along with ubiquitous applications of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) in almost all facets of service delivery and operations, continuously evolving cyber threats have become a concern for the Government. Cyber-attacks can come in the form of malware, ransomware, phishing, data breach etc., that adversely affect an organisation’s information and systems. Cyber threats leading to cyber-attacks or incidents can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of an organisation’s information and systems and can have far reaching impact on essential services and national interests. To protect against cyber threats, it is important for government entities to implement strong cybersecurity measures and follow best practices. As ICT infrastructure of the Government entities is one of the preferred targets of the malicious actors, responsibility of implementing good cyber security practices for protecting computers, servers, applications, electronic systems, networks, and data from digital attacks, also remain with the ICT assets’ owner i.e. Government entity.
What are the new Guidelines about?
The Government of India (distribution of business) Rules, 1961’s First Schedule lists a number of Ministries, Departments, Secretariats, and Offices, along with their affiliated and subordinate offices, which are all subject to the rules. They also comprise all governmental organisations, businesses operating in the public sector, and other governmental entities under their administrative control.
“The government has launched a number of steps to guarantee an accessible, trustworthy, and accountable digital environment. With a focus on capabilities, systems, human resources, and awareness, we are extending and speeding our work in the area of cyber security, according to Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics, Information Technology, Skill Development, and Entrepreneurship.
- Various security domains are covered in the standards, including network security, identity and access management, application security, data security, third-party outsourcing, hardening procedures, security monitoring, incident management, and security audits.
- For instance, the rules advise using only a Standard User (non-administrator) account to use computers and laptops for regular work regarding desktop, laptop, and printer security in the workplace. Users may only be granted administrative access with the CISO’s consent.
- The usage of lengthy passwords containing at least eight characters that combine capital letters, tiny letters, numerals, and special characters; Never save any usernames or passwords in your web browser. Likewise, never save any payment-related data there.
- They include guidelines created by the National Informatics Centre for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and staff members of Central government Ministries/Departments to improve cyber security and cyber hygiene in addition to adhering to industry best practises.
The government has been proactive in the contemporary times to eradicate the menace of cybercrimes and therreats from the Indian cyberspace and hence now we have seen a series of new bills and polices introduced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and various other government organisations like Cert-In and TRAI. These policies have been aimed towards being relevant to time and current technologies. The threats from emerging technologies like web 3.0 cannot be ignored and hence with active netizen participation and synergy between government and corporates will lead to a better and improved cyber ecosystem in India.
Authors: Mr. Abhishek Singh, Lead – Policy and Advocacy, CyberPeace