Wednesday, 11 January 2017

IT Security in India - A SWOT Analysis

Information Technology (IT) is the vital part of the world order and economy as it eases the lives by bringing automation in many vectors. With the boom, we have started seeing the effects of a new breed of computer artists taking a prominent place in the scene – a. hackers: any highly skilled computer expert capable of breaking into computer systems and networks using bugs and exploits, for resource benefits; b. computer scientists: any personal with significant formal education on the subject and actively working in the academia in building better architecture by looking at the tools we're currently using, how they work now and how they can work in the future.

Our economic vitality, national security and daily life depend on a stable, safe, and irrepressible cyberspace. Cyberspace and its core infrastructure are vulnerable to a wide range of risk stemming from both physical hazards as well as digital misadventures. Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services in less developed nations.

While writing, our team conducted a research on the trends and prospectus of information security in India and has come out with a SWOT analysis report. Following are our findings –


Various ministries in India have implemented swadeshi technologies or have their concept note prepared. Few of these initiatives include – ICT implementation by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (INAMPRO, FastLane, ePace, INFRACON, etc.) – which also happens to be sourced from a forerunning apolitical campaign named #ITForParivahan – citizen centric crowd sourcing of ideas to improve transportation led by Mr. Vinit Goenka, (Chairman AIM-IT), Ministry of Home Affairs (CCTNS, CIPA, etc), Ministry of External Affairs (passport services and immigration services, etc.), Ministry of Shipping to implement suggestion of the IT Task Force Report released in November 2016. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has its indigenous cloud solution ‘MEGHRAJ’ for all government offices. Government is also implementing;, and email addresses to give the government machinery a corporate feel. But, does implementing projects mean that the ball is in favourable court? No.


With the arrival of such technologist work style, data integration in various departments and data security is a huge concern. Many departments have reported data alteration, data loss and data theft from the network – which is a grave threat to national security.

Securing defense, federal and state networks are vital with all the possible tools available – more the swadeshi element, better it is as the response can be quick and data flow could be restricted and monitored as needed.


Reading about the strengths and weakness, we are sure you would want to know the opportunities in the information security industry in coming days.

A. Securing networks – units need to work with federal civilian department and agency to effectively respond to ever-changing threats against their networks.

B. Protecting critical infrastructure – data security agents (physical and digital, alike). By digital, we refer to white hat hackers and physical agents need to train well to dispose hard drives after erasing data irrecoverably.

C. Cyber incident response – private agencies will need support CERT-In to provide assistance to potentially impacted entities, analyzes the potential impact across critical infrastructure, investigate those responsible in conjunction with law enforcement partners, and coordinates the national response to significant cyber incidents.

D. Information security insurance – protects businesses and individuals from Internet-based risks and from risks relating to information technology infrastructure and activities; and provides financial assistance to encourage activities in the space. Information sharing is essential to the protection of critical infrastructure and to furthering cyber-security for the nation.


Threats to information security are from both outside and within the defense. ATM breach that had made chaos at many levels in September 2016 was because of irresponsible attitude in maintaining and monitoring the banking network and relying on inputs from large organizations. Also, hacking of multiple embassy websites that release details of Indian citizens living in those states was because of poorly coded websites with SQL vulnerabilities. Education in this space is inevitable so is proper logical product development in this space.

ICTE Innovation & Manufacturing in India - Key Regulatory & Policy Challenges

India’s electronics sector is one of the priority sectors for the present government as announced during the ‘Make in India’ initiative where it was realised that this sector will become a $400 billion strong by 2020, from the present $80 billion. It is also true that India’s electronics sector will surpass oil to become the second most import-intensive sector after gold. Hence, the ‘Digital India’ initiative recognises the electronics sector as one of the key sectors to increase technology adoption in the country and has ‘Net Zero Imports by 2020’ as one of the key missions as part of the initiative so that India becomes a self-reliant and powerful ICTE nation, where a healthy innovation and manufacturing climate will prevail for the entire globe.

With so much positivity and initiatives taking shape since 2014, there still remains a glaring gap between an ideal and realistic climate due to various regulatory and policy challenges that have been plaguing the electronics sector since the 1980s.


When was the last time an Indian scientist won a Nobel Prize for science and innovation? After loads of brain-scratching and googling, we come across the great Dr. C.V. Raman who was recognized through this prestigious award for his achievements in Physics way back in 1930. Has India not done any innovations since then? While this may be true, let us look at some statistics to prove this point.

As per the ‘Global Innovation Index 2016’ report, India stands at 66 out of 128 economies, ahead only of Brazil (69) among the BRICS nations. Russia (43), China (25) and South Africa (54) are performing much better than India, which ironically is the world’s fastest growing economy with ~7.4% GDP growth.

As per the recent figures released by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), India filed 1,423 patents in 2015, as compared to Japan’s 44,235, China’s 29,846 and South Korea’s 14,626 during the same period.

The root-cause of India’s poor show on Innovation lies in its school education system, which has not adapted to fast changing global business environment. India’s education system is also not mapped to the present industry requirements, resulting in huge skill gaps. Another major reason for failure of various educational institutions in the country is due to lack of accountability of academicians. Performance of students and quality of PhD thesis must be mapped to the performance of academicians. School and college projects on science and technology themes must be encouraged and showcased on larger platforms to encourage students to think and innovate.


While the ‘Make in India’ initiative has been able to kick-start major changes to improve the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ environment as well as drive foreign direct investments for the electronics sector, it has lacked the intent to support the domestic ICT industry that once were a powerhouse in India’s development during the 1980s. Wipro Infotech and HCL were two home-grown ICT hardware organizations that had to close down their respective PC manufacturing facilities in 2013 as there was heavy competition from major MNC brands like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, etc. who had economies of scale in operations and manufacturing processes due to a steady component supply chain in China and Taiwan. Had the Central government focused more on reviving the domestic ICT and electronics sector, the ‘Make in India’ would have proven to be more sensible for India’s ICT growth. It is not surprising to mention that as per ITU’s 2016 global study, India ranks at dismal 138 on the ICT Development Index.

Lack of Component Manufacturing is another critical area that needs immediate attention. India needs a sustainable, conducive and dedicated supply chain of components to push electronics manufacturing in the country. It is a known fact that majority of India’s current ICTE manufacturing activities consist of assembling Semi Knocked Down and Complete Knocked Down kits, which are directly imported from China and Taiwan.

The Preferential Market Access Policy of 2013 and the Public Procurement Bill of 2012, which were formulated to provide assured government business to domestic ICTE companies, are currently not implemented in the right spirit. Various government tenders still put in absurd clauses that make Indian organizations ineligible to bid for contracts. Various developed and developing countries have proven time and again that that government projects provide major impetus to indigenous ICTE solutions in the interest of national security and growth of domestic markets.

For the present government to prove Make in India, Digital India, Startup India, Stand Up India, Skill India, Smart Cities initiatives as catalysts for its growth would need to also ensure that there is sustained ICT and technology adoption in the country. There is a dire need for local content development and affordable computing devices to make India a tech-savvy nation. 

Domestic manufacturing of mobile devices and tablets were given a major boost in the past budget by providing duty differential benefit of 10.5% as against direct import of such ICT products, which has resulted in more than 40 mobile manufacturing units churning out ~20 million devices every month since September 2015. This duty benefit must be extended to the entire value chain of computing devices so that the entire range of ICT hardware products are made in India for the world.

The complex taxation regime of India has been one of the major hurdles for the development of manufacturing ecosystem in the country. Under the VAT regime, similar ICTE products are charged differently by different states, excise and customs officials due to lack of technical knowledge charge penalties for a certain category of ICTE product range, which otherwise was notified to be duty-free. India was a combination of 28 different markets, causing huge inconvenience to ICTE manufacturing companies. With speedy implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, we hope to see a streamlined taxation regime that removes the cascading effect of multiple taxes and converts India into a cost-efficient global hub for ICTE manufacturing in the coming years.

India is on the brink of achieving a global status for ICTE manufacturing and innovation. The above 'man-made' challenges may be easily eradicated with a strong political will.