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IT ministry launches Cyber Swachhta Kendra to deal with botnet, malware

23 February 2017

Extending the 'Swachh Bharat' campaign to the cyber world, the minister of electronics and information technology(MeitY), Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Wenesday launched the Cyber Swachhta Kendra to address the problem of malware and botnets that affect networks and systems.

This is a part of MeitY's Digital India initiative aimed at creating a secure cyber space by detecting botnet infections in India and to notify, enable cleaning and securing systems of end-users to prevent further infections.

The centre, which is operated by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), aims to enhance coordination between the government and industry in order to encourage cyber hygiene among all end-users and to create a secure and safe internet ecosystem in India, an official release stated.

Speaking on the occasion, Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister of electronics and information technology said, ''India today joined the distinguished club of countries that have malware cleaning systems for the use of its citizens. As of now, we have 13 banks and internet service providers using this facility. With the expanding digital footprint in the country, I see a surge in start-ups in the area of cyber security by the end of the year.

"With the expanding role of information and communication technology across sectors and growth in volume of transactions and data exchange via internet, cyber security has emerged as the most critical factor in India's move towards a digital world.

"Combating cyber threats requires a partnership approach. The centre being launched today will work in coordination with the internet service providers and industry. It will also enhance awareness among citizens regarding botnet and malware infection along with measures to be taken to secure their devices'', the minister added.

He said the National Cyber Coordination Centre will be operational by June 2017. The government proposes to set up sectoral CERTs that would operate under CERT-In.

CERTs are to be set up in the state level as well. Besides, 10 more Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQCs) testing facilities will be set up. Testing fee for any star-up that comes up with a digital technology in the quest of cyber security will be reduced by 50 per cent.

It will also empower designated forensic labs to work as the certified authority to establish cyber crime.

The centre will operate in close co-ordination and collaboration with internet Service Providers (ISP) and anti-virus companies. Whenever an infection is detected, the centre will send alerts on the infected IP addresses to the internet service providers, who in turn will inform the end-user about the malware and botnet infections on their system. The centre will also work in close collaboration with the banks to detect malware infections in their banking network and enable remedial actions.

The launch of the Centre will help the Internet service providers and the banks to keep their networks clean and prevent cases of cyber fraud and theft.

Aruna Sundararajan, secretary, MeitY, said, ''With the increased penetration of ICT infrastructure in our country, the threat of cyber security has become more serious and visible. Today, the common man is confronted with hacking, spamming, malware and loss of data, yet public awareness about these issues and how to protect themselves is extremely low. There is a need to collaborate and come forth with solutions like the Cyber Swachhta Kendra in order to ensure a safe and secure cyber world for the citizens of India.''

With the growth in digitalization and proliferation of broadband and mobile internet, security of end users' systems is vital for enhancing their trust in ICT and online transactions.

Meanwhile, the centre has released some tools for cyber security, which include:

  • USB Pratirodh - A desktop security solution, which protects from USB mass storage device threats;
  • AppSamvid - A desktop solution which protects systems by allowing installation of genuine applications through white listing. This helps in preventing threats from malicious applications; and.
  •  M-Kavach An indigenously developed solution to address the security threats in mobiles.

With no shield for malware, Indian cyber security is under threat as the devices which have been installed to protect systems from malware and cyber attacks are below par.

The revelation came out after Hitachi had hired a Bengaluru-based company to investigate the whole issue. The agency was hired to find out reason behind security breach at Hitachi, an ATM provider.

The audit report says that the hackers used a sophisticated software code that can be used to breach many anti-malware walls.

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