India and Pakistan, not the friendliest of neighbours, have fought three major wars and are now engaged in another in cyberspace. As per latest reports, hackers from across the border are working overtime to launch cyber attacks on Indian websites in their cross hair.
Though the Indian side is known for its prowess in IT and related fields, it is becoming apparent that a dearth of firepower has left the Indian cyberspace particularly vulnerable to Pakistani attacks.
Reports indicate that around 40-50 sites are being hacked by Pakistani hackers on a daily basis whereas around 10 Pakistani sites are being hit by their Indian counterparts. According to analysts, one of the reasons India has been forced on the backfoot in this cyberwar is the reactive attitude it has chosen to adopt instead of being a proactive player.
There are other factors as well and studies suggest how the laidback attitude of both corporate sector and the government on cyber security has impeded a positive approach.
Cyber security expert Ankit Fadia was quoted inthe media as saying that the need to counter such attacks usually sets in after an attack happens. He adds that though ethical hacking is the answer to such attacks and does come at a cost, it is not prohibitively expensive.
Ethical hackers are also known by such names as white hackers, white knights or sneakers. They are computer security experts who specialise in penetration testing and related testing methodologies to check vulnerability of a company's information systems.
According to Nasscom surveys there exists an unprecedented demand for qualified and experienced information security professionals in the wake of increased information security threats, but Fadia says the supply of ethical hackers in the country falls much short of the demand for qualified information security professionals.
According to Fadia, social networking sites have become hackers' favourite hunting grounds these days marking a change in strategy from the e-mail route of passing a virus.
Fadia says ethical hacking communities have been operating in the country, however India does not have a strong and serious community of ethical hackers.
He says after passing out of engineering colleges classmates do form ethical hacking communities but these turn out to be short lived affairs not going beyond the level of a collective hobby.
According to industry sources, the shortfall could be made up by starting structured courses, though the first generation of ethical hackers was largely self-taught. Fadia says it may be time for colleges to introduce formal courses in ethical hacking.