Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

[op-ed snap] We should offer to safeguard the world’s telecom networks


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 3- Cyber security in the wake of Huawei ban and concerns over cyber security in 5G age.


India should grab cybersecurity opportunities instead of focusing on smaller issues like import tariffs during Trump’s visit.

Opportunity for India in the US-China trade war

  • Technology will be an important front in the emerging trade war between the US and China.
    • It will create significant opportunities for India as global supply chains re-adjust to geopolitical pushes and pull.
    • In manufacturing: The immediate opportunity is in across-the-board manufacturing, especially if the Government puts in place a special task force to unclog the regulatory issues.
    • In cybersecurity: Beyond manufacturing, the unfolding US-China technology war is creating opportunities for India in the cybersecurity space on a scale that could match Y2K.

Balance national security and industry economics

  • The UK’s approach: It is a carefully constructed middle path.
  • Not allowing high-risk vendors: The UK decided that “high-risk vendors” will not be permitted in its core networks.
    • High regulatory and security oversight: High-risk vendors will also be subject to higher levels of regulatory and security oversight.
    • Ability to switch: Operators are expected to have the ability to switch away from such vendors should the government so require.
  • 35% restriction: The UK restricted to less than 35% of the equipment base of each telecom operator.
  • The EU approach:  The European Union is likely to adopt some variant of the British approach.
    • This means Chinese-made equipment will be deployed across EU countries but under tighter surveillance, audit and assurance regime.

How is it going to create opportunities?

  • 5G and more need for more security professionals
    • More base stations: 5G networks will employ many more base stations than existing networks.
    • The internet of things (IoT) is set to bring billions of connected sensors and devices online.
    • The requirement of security professionals: Tightening security norms will require both telecom firms and their customers to employ a lot of cybersecurity professionals in a wide range of roles, of varying levels of sophistication and sensitivity.
  • Shortage of cybersecurity professionals
    • The problem is: the world is already short of cybersecurity professionals.
    • Even before 5G networks are rolled out, estimates suggest that there are 2 to 3 million unfilled cybersecurity vacancies around the world.
    • Scrutiny of the Chinese vendors and employment opportunities: The more stringent the security regimes around Chinese vendors, the greater the demand for cybersecurity professionals security regimes around Chinese vendors, the greater the demand for cybersecurity professionals.
  • Where is the opportunity for India? The industry is responding to this shortage by employing more automation.
    • But demand for human will increase: The demand for trustworthy, reliable and competent human beings to keep an eye on cyber threats will only increase.
    • Where can hundreds of thousands of technology professionals who might be able to fill this gap come from? India and China.
    • Advantage India: Chinese firms and individuals are unlikely to be chosen to keep an eye on Chinese equipment makers and state-linked cyber attackers, it is advantage India.

Can India grab this opportunity?

  • Inadequate professionals in India: India doesn’t have adequate numbers of cybersecurity professionals either.
    • Skill initiative by the government: The government has launched a skills initiative to plug the shortage, but we’re far away from addressing our own cybersecurity needs.
    • India has all the necessary conditions to become as big a player in the global cybersecurity market.
    • India has the numbers, the companies and the market-driven economic models that can produce the skills that the industry wants.
  • Private sector’s role: During the 1990s’ information technology boom, India produced hundreds of thousands of software engineers not because of any government skills development programme, but because private firms popped up and supplied the skills that people and their employers wanted.

Way forward

  • Government to government arrangements: Unlike the Y2K days, the global demand for cybersecurity professionals has entry barriers that firms and individuals cannot easily cross on their own. Government-to-government arrangements can help Indian firms and individuals get clearances for cybersecurity roles.
  • Developing cybersecurity partnership: India will have to work on developing cybersecurity partnerships with the US, UK and the EU, focused on opening up their markets to Indian firms.
  • Win the trust: The latter, for their part, must work on gaining the trust of the West’s national security establishments.



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