With an ever-expanding population of internet subscribers, India is one of the fastest-growing digitising economies in the world. While the digital revolution has opened a new set of opportunities for businesses, cyber threats have also increased, and become more sophisticated, with technological advancements. From viruses in the 1990s, cyber threats have evolved to worms, botnets and Advanced Persistent Threat. Hence, enterprises have to be more vigilant against cyber attacks.
Phishing, ransomware, cyber-terrorism, cryptojacking, Distributed Denial-Of-Service (DDOS) attacks, and threats to mobile devices are some of the key cyber-security risks for an evolving digital economy like India. As per a report, Indian enterprises faced 14.6 crore malware attacks in 2019, a Year on Year (YoY) growth of 48 percent compared to the previous year. Manufacturing, Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI), education, healthcare, IT/ITES, and the government are high-risk in the country.
Increasing interconnectivity across devices using cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and third-party Application Programming Interfaces (API) into the enterprise networks have benefitted enterprises (and consumers), but has also made them more susceptible to cyber-attacks.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of organisations are having to adapt to a full-scale Work from Home (WFH) model. The availability and security of the enterprise Virtual Private Network (VPN) servers are extremely important as employees perform a remote login to their office machines to execute their assigned tasks. As per a report by the Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In), there has been an increase in the number of cyber-attacks on computers, routers, and unprotected home networks used by employees who have switched to WFH due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cert-In has stated that VPN servers are critical to companies in the current circumstances. Therefore, it is important to keep the servers patched and up to date. It is recommended that employees use Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) or browser-based webpage to access the data and applications on the office machine. Data should only be available on the remote server with the restriction of downloading data on the employee’s machine that is used for accessing the office network. Official documents, excel sheets, and other vital data should be stored in an encrypted format. IT administrators should ensure that all the remote access connections from the organisation’s firewall are encrypted.
The remote sessions should have an automatic time-out after a specified period of inactivity and would need to re-authenticate to use the remote network services again. Mobile Application Management (MAM) helps in keeping the data of the enterprise secure, along with enhancing productivity by protecting the application data. Employees should also be mandated to use Two-factor authentication (2FA), before using the remote servers so that an extra level of security is added to confirm their identities.
Increased inter-connectivity using cloud technologies and IoT has increased the attack area and has also enhanced vulnerabilities, making them susceptible to cyber-attacks. As per a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report titled ‘India Cyber Risk and Resilience Review 2019’, “70% of IoT devices have serious security vulnerabilities such as insecure web interfaces & data transfers, insufficient authentication methods and a lack of consumer knowledge which leaves users open to attacks.”
Digital technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), etc. are changing the manufacturing sector and the outside world. As the manufacturing sector gears towards Industry 4.0 (I4.0), Information Technology (IT), Operational Technology (OT), and Intellectual Property (IP) assets are becoming integrated. This brings in the possibility of the details related to the manufacturing processes to be stolen, which may modify the firmware, and even cripple the entire production line. The technology infrastructure at every layer should follow proper security standards so that risks of third-party vulnerabilities are minimised.
CII has been active in broadening the knowledge base when it comes to cyber-security and protecting the critical information infrastructure. It regularly engages with diverse stakeholders such as cyber-security experts, IT Companies, law enforcement agencies, defence establishments, R&D agencies, risk & insurance companies, and others to deliberate on various aspects of cyber-security for businesses. Initiatives such as the National cyber forensic lab and Cyber Protection Awareness and Detection Centre (CyPAD) are some of the notable efforts by the Government to better equip the country against cybercrime.
As dependence on technology increases due to the Coronavirus, it is important to be fully aware of, and prepared for any cyber threat to safeguard one’s personal and professional data.