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Concerned about global spurt in cybercrimes, PMO’s cyber chief issues cyber-advisory for online users


India’s top cyber-security chief, reporting to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Lt. General Rajesh Pant has issued a ‘cyber-advisory’ for the lockdown. It comes in the backdrop of cyber criminals taking advantage of the emerging work from home (WFH) environment during the lockdown.

Talking exclusively to ET Online, Lt Gen. Rajesh Pant, India’s National Cyber Security Coordinator, said, ” Dear Indian citizens, please do NOT click on any suspicious links sent via email or sms.” Pointing out that the current crisis has increased our dependence on the Internet, Pant asserted, “Fraudsters and cyber criminals are taking advantage” of the new reality ”to steal money and data.”

Pant is working from his office since he is part of the “essential services” needed by the Government of India to deal with the crisis. “I urge every Indian to ‘adopt good cyber hygiene’. I recommend all to go through https://mycyberhygiene.com for a self test,” said Pant.

Recommending the above twenty minutes free online cyber course, he said the module would help Indians deal with the menace of cyber criminals, who are targeting weak links in our systems to attack our computer devices and mobile phones.

The Estonia-based cyber-security company Cybexer Technologies is offering the free online cyber hygiene e-learning course available in 13 languages, including English. Ukranian National Academy of Internal Affairs has been a user of the free service, and now the Indian government is pitching for the online cyber course.

Sources in the PMO cyber-security secretariat also spoke to ET Online and confirmed that Estonia, known for best cybersecurity practices in the world, is offering India some immediate help to deal with cyber criminals during these turbulent times. “India is following the best global practices such as those adopted by Estonia,” said government sources.

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Talking exclusively to ET Online, Katrin Kivi, ambassador of Estonia to India, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh said, “Pretty much every large organisation in the world has suddenly moved to remote work, including most governments, and may need to sustain this for many months.”

Pointing out that Estonia had prioritised business diplomacy in India especially around digitalisation, e-governance, cyber security, and defence even before the crisis, she added,“ Our MIDA cybersecurity and cloud monitoring tool can rapidly be deployed to help a large organisation monitor and enforce security policies across a (newly) distributed enterprise. It’s particularly helpful to governments with remote workers processing sensitive, personal, or national security information”.

Government sources added India is also looking at its domestic home-grown technology companies to offer cyber solutions.

“Indian Ministry of Communication and Technology (MeitY)’s e-governance department is also doing a fantastic task of promoting Indian apps related to Covid-19,” said government sources.

The real-world telemetry data from K7 Labs, an Indian cyber security firm, for the period February 2, 2020 to March 25, 2020 shows that there is a 30% increase in cyber-attacks, with 1,756 blocked malicious attempts, specifically using the Covid-19 theme.

A recent report from International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) warned 194 member countries, including India, that cyber attackers were attempting to target major hospitals and medical institutions, in the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, with ransomware.





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