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Delhi Government Audits IT Systems to Ensure Cybersecurity

The Delhi government is planning a major security audit of all its information technology (IT) systems, websites, web-enabled applications and services, and mobile applications. The move aims to identify and prevent cyberattacks/threats.

A news report has stated that thanks to improved e-governance, many public services are available online, saving time and resources. However, the move to online modes of service delivery has also left data susceptible to cyberattacks. The Delhi eGovernance Society, run under the city’s Department of Information Technology, has floated a request for proposal (RFP) to select a cybersecurity agency to conduct the comprehensive security audit. The audit will cover the government’s departments, local bodies, and autonomous bodies. It will also find vulnerabilities in the government’s IT system and ways to secure the system against related threats. The RFP defines a deliberate attack as a malicious attempt to gain unauthorised access to an IT system, such as through password guessing to compromise systems and data integrity, availability, or confidentiality. It could also be a benign, but purposeful, attempt to circumvent system security.

New threats evolve as technology does and organisations struggle to maintain information security. Organisations often leverage new technologies to extend their functionality and reach more clients and partners but simultaneously, their exposure to risk grows. The RFP explained that a rapid growth in discovered vulnerabilities in applications makes it easier for an attacker to find a path into a network. In-house and commercially-developed applications often put speedy development and convenience over security, which results in vulnerabilities such as authentication bypass, SQL Injection, and cross-site scripting. The RFP added that applications are also preferred targets for attackers, as they almost always allow access to internal resources through the firewall.

The vulnerabilities and security issues could include broken authentication and access controls, weak passwords, cryptography, and session management; forceful browsing, ‘cookie poisoning’, denial-of-service, and parameter tampering; improper error handling, third party misconfigurations, and information leakages; server misconfigurations, form/hidden field manipulation, back doors and debug options, errors triggering sensitive information leaks, and GI-BIN manipulation.

Recently, India was ranked 10th in the Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) 2020, which was released by the United Nations specialised agency for ICT, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The United States ranked first, followed by the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. Estonia was ranked third, South Korea, Singapore, and Spain shared the fourth spot. Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia shared the fifth spot, Lithuania came in sixth followed by Japan, Canada, and France. The countries were measured along five pillars, namely, legal measures, technical measures, organisational measures, capacity development, and cooperation to generate an overall score. The countries were asked 82 questions where 20 indicators were measured. India answered questions on legal measures for data protection of its citizens and its Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), which is responsible for coordinating responses to computer security events on a national level. India’s overall score was 97.49. It placed 4th in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Indian government will release a new cybersecurity strategy this year, according to the National Cyber Security Coordinator, Rajesh Pant. He announced this at an event organised by the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI). He said the strategy would holistically cover the entire ecosystem of cyberspace in India. The new strategy would serve as a guideline to cover various aspects, including data as a national resource, building indigenous capabilities, and cyber audits.

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