Author Archives: PTLB

Contemporary Malware Are Defeating Cyber Security Products And Services

Perry4Law-Organisation-P4LOInfection and compromise of systems and devices is not a recent phenomenon. However, malware in the contemporary times are highly sophisticated in nature. In fact, as per a report, malware nuisance would significantly increase in the year 2016.

Malware writers are no more script kiddies who hack for the sake of fun. Now the motive of these hackers ranges from cyber espionage, financial gains to cyber warfare. Naturally, malware play a key role in achieving these objectives.

Malware are a big cyber security nuisance for long. Cyber security vendors have been trying to contain various sophisticated malware that come up from time to time. As the nations and state actors have become interested in these malware and some of them are even funding their development and exploitation, cyber security products and services are finding it difficult to match their capabilities.

Till the time a cyber security product or service is launched to contain a sophisticated malware, the havoc and damage is already done. In this article titled “Malware Are Defeating Cyber Security Safeguards With Ease“, this fight between malware and cyber security products has been aptly described.

Presently malware are clearly winning the fight between security and system infections as security products are inherently incapable of tackling zero day vulnerabilities and state sponsored cyber attacks.

In the research article titled “Prospective Cyber Security Trends In India 2015“, Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) predicted that state sponsored cyber attacks would increase. This actually happened and even Twitter and Google issued warnings that state sponsored cyber attacks may be there for their products and services. The “Cyber Security Trends In India 2016” have also predicted the rise of botnet, malware and cyber attacks against critical infrastructures around the world.

It is a wake up call for the cyber security vendors to either improve their security products and services or become redundant and ready to be exiled. What is the purpose of an anti virus that cannot detect and remove a malware?

At the same time there is a need to change the attitude towards cyber security by individuals, companies and governments. At the organisation level, there must be a techno legal policy for cyber security that should be religiously followed. Any lapse in the policy may be lethal for the financial and brand value of the organisation.

As far as India is concerned, India is still struggling to establish the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) culture. Even at the government level, CISO culture is still missing. For instance, recently the Prime Minister Office (PMO) of India appointed Dr. Gulshan Rai as the first CISO of India. Although this is a very good and pro active move yet we have seen little development in this regard so far. Similarly, appointing the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) was made mandatory for all banks in India in 2012 yet till 2016 banks have not done so. In fact, cyber security of banks in India is in a very poor condition.

Even the government projects like National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), etc have failed to achieve for what they were contemplated. There are no cyber breach disclosure norms in India as well. As a result we have almost missing cyber security infrastructure in India that needs to be revamped and strengthened immediately. This is more so when India has introduced the “Digital India” project that would make Indian infrastructure vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks from around the world. When everybody is passing the buck who is going to bell the cat named malware.

Smart Cities Cyber Security In India: The Problems And Solutions

Smart cities are the future of urbanisation and population sustainability. The aim of smart cities is to provide a conductive environment for living, commercial activities, healthcare and overall development. Smart cities also predominantly rely upon use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to render public services. Wherever applicable, Internet of Things (IoT) (PDF), cloud computing and virtualisation and machine to machine (M2M) system usage is also there. However, this omnipresent usage of ICT, IoT, M2M, cloud computing, etc has a potential drawback as well in the form of indifference towards smart cities cyber security.

It is not difficult to visualise a scenario of cyber attacks against the critical infrastructures of the smart cities that are run by ICT and technology. Such a cyber attack can cripple the entire smart city if properly executed. Critical infrastructure protection in India (PDF) is still at nascent stage. The national cyber security policy of India 2013 is also very weak and even that has not been implemented by Indian government so far. The much awaited cyber security policy of India 2015 is also missing so far.

A strong cyber security infrastructure of India is need of the hour especially when there is no well settled international legal issues of cyber attacks that can be invoked in the case of a cyber incidence. It is very important that international legal issues of cyber attacks must be resolved by various government and non government stakeholders. There is no globally acceptable cyber law treaty and cyber security treaty (PDF) that can govern the relationships between various countries.  Even the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare  (PDF) is just an academic document with no legal binding obligations. The truth is that Tallinn Manual is not applicable to international cyber warfare attacks and defence and countries are free to take measures as per their own choices.

This has necessitated that cyber security related projects in India must be not only expedited but they must also be successfully implemented as soon as possible. Unfortunately, cyber projects like National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) of India, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIPC) of India, Grid Security Expert System (GSES) of India, National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India, Cyber Attacks Crisis Management Plan of India, Crisis Management Plan Of India For Cyber Attacks And Cyber Terrorism, Cyber Command For Armed Forces Of India, Tri Service Cyber Command for Armed Forces of India, Central Monitoring System (CMS) Project of India, National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project of India, Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project of India, etc have still not been implemented successfully by Indian government.

This raises the pertinent question as to how Indian government would ensure cyber security of smart cities in India. We at Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research and Development in India (CECSRDI) believe that Modi government must take cyber security seriously. The cyber security challenges in India would increase further and India must be cyber prepared to protect its cyberspace. CECSRDI believes that the starting point is to draft the cyber security policy of India 2015 as the 2013 policy is highly defective and of little significance. We also believe that a dedicated cyber security law of India is need of the hour. The same must be a techno legal framework keeping in mind contemporary cyber security threats. Further cyber security disclosure norms in India must be formulated by Modi government. The cyber security awareness in India must be further improved so that various stakeholders can contribute significantly to the growth and implementation of cyber security initiatives of Indian government.

India Opposes Proposal To Include Cyber Security Technologies Under The Wassenaar Arrangement

India Opposes Proposal To Include Cyber Security Technologies Under The Wassenaar ArrangementOne of the ways to prevent technologies and weapons from falling into wrong hands is to restrict and regulate their export out of the jurisdictions possessing the same. By putting export restrictions, weapons and technologies can be exported according to set norms and under scrutiny.  The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (Wassenaar Arrangement) is one such arrangement between many western countries.

The Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability. Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of restricted items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities. The decision to transfer or deny transfer of any item is the sole responsibility of each Participating State. All measures with respect to the Arrangement are taken in accordance with national legislation and policies and are implemented on the basis of national discretion.

The Wassenaar Arrangement is focusing primarily on the transparency of national export control regimes and not granting veto power to individual members over organisational decisions. It is not a treaty, and therefore is not legally binding. However, through its collective decision making process, it can prohibit the transfer of a particular technology to non member nation(s). India is one such non member Nation and she has keen interests in import of technologies like cyber security software and hardware.

UK, France have now proposed amendments to Wassenaar Arrangement to include cyber security technologies. Naturally, India has expressed her concerns regarding this attempt as India is primarily dependent upon foreign nations for her cyber security related requirements. Changes were made to the Wassenaar Arrangement in December 2013 at a plenary meeting held at Vienna following the Snowden revelations.

”These changes could have severe impact on India’s cyber security programme — both software and hardware — as these would come under export control regime, the entire inventory of high-end cyber technology is with the Western countries like the US and they may deny products to Indian organisation,” said a senior Government official.

A high level meeting of the National Security Council was recently held to discuss the next course of action. The problem is that the products included in the control list have not yet been made public and the next round of plenary meeting to be held at the end of this month is expected to see the formal adoption of this agreement.  Since India is not part of the agreement, it does not have access to the decisions or means to influence the proceedings. Therefore, Indian may seek membership to the exclusive club.

“The best way to deal with this would be to have our own technologies and invest in R&D but that would take time. We would like to engage with countries like US and UK to take our view on board before listing out products under export control,” said a Government official directly dealing with the issue.

The official also said that as a pre-emptive move India was looking to purchase critical technology before the new arrangement is finalised. An expert committee has been set up to figure out the future course of action, including negotiating with six countries — the US, the UK, Israel, Germany, France and Canada.

CERT-In has claimed that some softwares supplied to India are tweaked which become prone to hacking. India was given a solution of the “Heart Bleed” malware, which impacted security of softwares, by vendors after a year of its discovery. Software companies under the product sale agreement are bound to provide solution of any vulnerability found in their product(s) immediately after detection.

Sources said Ministry of External Affairs was of the view that high technology items are always an issue for the US but India could influence the decision by seeking membership of the Wassenaar Arrangement.