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Strengthen cyber security the right way

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May 17, 2022

Why in news?

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has issued directions relating to information security practices, procedure, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents under Section 70-B(6) of  Information Technology Act 2000.

What are the new directions issued by CERT-In regarding Cyber security?

  • Synchronisation of computer clocks to the network time protocol set at the National Physical Laboratory and National Informatics Centre (NIC).
  • Mandatory reporting of all cyber incidents within 6 hours of noticing or being brought to their notice in the prescribed format.
  • Designating point of contact and notifying CERT-In.
  • Perform the actions notified by CERT-IN for cyber security mitigation.
  • Maintain all logs of all ICT systems up to 180 days within Indian jurisdiction.
  • Data centres, virtual private network service providers, cloud service providers and virtual private server providers has to maintain all records of their users and usage for a minimum of 5 year even after the cancellation or withdrawal of registration.
  • The virtual asset industry too will have to maintain all KYC records and details of all financial transactions for five years.

Why new directions are issued?

  • CERT-IN has been struggling to get information and incident reporting from service providers, intermediaries as per section 70B(4) of the IT Act.
  • This was impacting its responsibility as a collector, analyser and disseminator of information on cyber incidents as well as coordinating incident responses and emergency measures.

What are the concerns raised regarding these new directions?

  • Unrealistic deadlines - A window of 60 days has been provided before implementation of these compliances begins. Given the scale of the revamp, this might be too short a window.
  • Multiple companies even from the MSME sector will take time to set up systems for compliances.
  • Recruitment of additional manpower for compliance may take far longer.
  • Also penalty for non-compliance is stiff (including up to one year of imprisonment and monetary fines).
  • Additional data storage requirement - At present, most entities maintain logs for around 30 days. To maintain logs for 180 days, the additional data storage device cost would be huge.
  • To maintain the data for 5 years the compliance cost is going to rise substantially.
  • Data localisation - Many entities having offshore servers have to shift their servers geographically in line with the government’s objective of localising data storage.
  • Privacy concerns - VPNs and virtual asset wallets are being asked to store and share KYC and transaction data. This raises privacy concerns.
  • VPNs have been successful for corporates as well as individuals because they address privacy concerns.
  • Incidents to be reported - The directions do not differentiate between the scales and nature of the incident to be reported.
  • An organisation might receive hundreds of phishing emails and the effort to notify each would drastically increase their compliance cost.
  • In the absence of data protection law there is ambiguity on which information can be held back or how his sensitive personal information is being protected.

 

Reference

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/strengthen-cyber-security-right-way-7920843/

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