New Delhi, Sept. 8: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the government was working on a “robust cyber security structure” to tackle the threat that misuse of the Internet could pose to the country’s economy and social fabric.
Such cyber crime can have “potentially devastating results”, he told police bosses on the final day of a three-day conference of DGPs. The comments came weeks after morphed images of alleged atrocities against minorities in Assam sparked an exodus of people from the Northeast.
“Our country’s vulnerability to cyber crime is escalating as our economy and critical infrastructure become increasingly reliant on interdependent computer networks and the Internet. Large-scale computer attacks on our infrastructure and economy can have potentially devastating results,” the Prime Minister told the meet hosted by the Intelligence Bureau director. Singh, who referred to the “ethnic disturbances” in the Northeast, said the cyber strategy the Centre was working on would address threat management and mitigation, assurance and certification, capacity building and research.
There was also a word of caution. While working on ways to counter cyber crime, he said, care should be taken to make sure it didn’t infringe on freedom of expression.
On Thursday, home minister Sushil Shinde and IB chief Nehchal Sandhu had underscored the threats to India’s cyber space. Officials said government computer networks had already experienced cyber attacks. Intelligence officials said the strategy was to secure the water, petroleum and power grids besides Indian cyber space. Singh called for building partnerships between the government, academia and the private sector to work out the security structure. India and the US have a working group on assessing and working out ways to ward off cyber threats.
The Prime Minister conceded that the use of bulk text messages and networking sites to aggravate social tensions was a new challenge. “We need to fully understand how these new media are used by miscreants,” he said.
Pointing to the impact of the violence in Assam, the Prime Minister said disturbances in the Northeast had assumed a national dimension. Some 30,000 people from the region had fled Bangalore last month, though many have since returned.