Indian Ministry of Defence plans to strengthen the country's cybersecurity

On 19 June, the Department of Defence held a workshop on the development of the Cyber Security Framework. It was inaugurated by the Minister of Defence, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman and more than a hundred representatives from the Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA), the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA) and the Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factories attended the workshop.

In an official press statement released by the Ministry, according to the Chief Information Security Officer of Department of Defence Production (DDP) Dr Amit Sahai, the workshop was held to discuss the cybersecurity threats the Ministry faces and to develop a plan to implement a policy based on the document released by Department of Defence Production earlier this year.

During the workshop, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Defence sector has become more prone to cyber-attacks and it is the Ministry’s top priority to safeguard the country’s cyberspace and added that it is necessary for the country’s workforce in all establishments to fall in line with the nation’s goal to become a dominant force in cyberspace.

The Ministry has outlined a Cyber Security Framework for the Draft Defence Production (DDP) policy. According to the document released by Draft Defence Production, the policy aims to facilitate faster assimilation of technology and create a secure industrial ecosystem in the country.  The policy is an important part of the “Make in India” initiative which was initiated by Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, to reduce India’s dependence on imports from other nations. The Ministry said it will use the latest technologies and manufacturing processes in order to be more self-reliant in this sector.

Additionally, to address the growing number of cybercrimes and other cybersecurity related issues, the Ministry has established cybersecurity cells at various levels in the country. India has already taken steps to lower cybercrime rates such as implementing the Information Technology Act 2000, which gives citizens legal protection from cyber-attacks, and developing the National Cybersecurity Policy under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. 

The policy aims to protect information and information infrastructure in cyberspace, build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber threats, reduce vulnerabilities and minimise damage from cyber incidents through a combination of institutional structures, people, processes, technology and cooperation.

The IT Ministry said that through the National Cybersecurity Policy strives to create a secure cyber ecosystem in India, foster trust and confidence in Information Technology systems and its transactions in cyberspace and to increase the use of Information Technology in all sectors of the economy.

The Secretary of Defence Production, Dr Ajay Kumar noted that all Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) and Ordnance Factories have already started to use and rely more heavily on Information Technology. The Indian Ordnance Factories organisation functions under the Ministry of Defence and is involved in the research, production, testing, development and marketing of land, sea and air systems.

However, in spite of the measures taken by the Ministry, compromise in information and cybersecurity in the Defence Production sector can have far-reaching consequences on the effectiveness of India’s defence forces and national security. Therefore, the Ministry has stressed that it is important to establish a strong, robust and resilient cybersecurity infrastructure.

According to the press release, the framework follows the National Policies & Guidelines rules and provides a common platform for enterprises to describe their current cybersecurity position and the target area for cybersecurity.

The framework will also be able to identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement and will regularly assess progress towards the target areas.

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