In its quest to create a safe ecosystem for cybersecurity, the Telangana government has not only set up a Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, but is working with the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) to bring the first cybersecurity law in the country. The state is also seeing several multi-national companies opening their data centres in the soon-to-be “preferred IT destination” of the country.
Speaking about the state government’s vision, Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, (I&C) and Information Technology (IT), told News18: “The fast pace of new technology advancements and the rapid push for digitalisation has given a great opportunity for India. I see this as a second Y2K time, when global companies will rely more and more on the prowess of India. Within India, we have successfully established Hyderabad as the go-to destination for all possible technology related work. However, we also know that whatever progress we can potentially make can be pushed back through weaknesses in cyber security. It is said that nefarious forces are always a step ahead and are on a constant lookout for weaknesses that can be exploited. Since the past many years, we feel responsible for creating a strong cybersecurity ecosystem which gives comfort to the companies who choose to operate here.”
He further said the ecosystem comprises large tech companies and niche companies, who work on cybersecurity product development, a state of the art Security Operations Centre (SOC), with advanced incidence monitoring tools, cybersecurity skilling and innovation. “Many tech companies, when they have to make a location choice, prefer Hyderabad, among other things, also because of this robust cybersecurity ecosystem and the ease with which they can become a part of the ecosystem and benefit from it,” he added.
Why we need new cybercrime laws
Explaining why a new cybersecurity legislation is a good idea, Mathew Chacko, partner in Spice Route Legal, said: “India’s cyber offences laws were created with the Information Technology Act,2001. However, since then, there have been sea changes in how technology can be used to commit crimes. They have revealed the inadequacies of our laws, too. Ours is a flexible system of laws due to our common law heritage. Criminals have now become more sophisticated on the internet, and that is why, we need a more robust legal system to deal with the new-age crimes.”
He stressed that the country also needs cybercrime regulator, who will formulate rules under the law. The regulator should have the power to issue directions to the police, defining what consists a crime and what does not.
Explaining how the present laws are inadequate, the lawyer said: “The manner in which evidence is examined in cybercrime issues is complicated. At the time the existing laws were formulated, no one was using smartphones. How do you expect them to provide protection now? For example, if there is an incident of smishing, the laws that it falls under are the ones formulated to deal with impersonation. If I do a complicated smishing fraud, the law that deals with it is a 19th century statute. There is no clarity on laws dealing with deepfake videos too. I think the initiative by the Telangana government to bring new cybercrime legislation is commendable.”
Telangana is also focusing on capacity building in cybersecurity. Speaking about the Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, Rama Devi Lanka, who heads Emerging Technologies for Telangana government, said: “We established Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence in 2019, in association with the Data Security Council of India. We had the foresight to realise that cybersecurity is an area that the government needs to focus on. We came out with a cybersecurity policy way back in 2017. One of the reasons for doing so was to attract investments in this area,” said Rama Devi.
It is to be noted here that CyberArk, a global leader in cyber security research, expanded its presence in Hyderabad by setting up a new R&D centre.
“Capacity building is one of the key areas we focus on. As hackers adopt new technologies, we need people who can deal with them. We have training programmes for professionals who are already working in this area, for students who are interested to join this field, and for law enforcement officials (police). We identify problem areas that need solutions, in consultation with the industry and academia. We also provide support to start-ups in this field,” she added.