Committee Calls for Tighter Cybersecurity on Besieged Government Portals

by | Feb 11, 2024

A parliamentary committee focused on communications and information technology has released a strongly worded report, highlighting the growing threat of cyber attacks on government websites and critical digital infrastructure. The report reveals alarming statistics, indicating that a shocking 373 government websites were hacked between January 2018 and September 2023. These findings have prompted urgent action to strengthen security measures.

The report places the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) at the forefront of efforts to safeguard government cyber infrastructure. While MeitY has previously issued cybersecurity guidelines, the committee insists on the immediate update of these guidelines to keep pace with evolving threats and technological advancements.

One of the committee’s main concerns is the use of outdated Windows operating systems in government offices, leaving computers and laptops vulnerable to cybercriminals. In response, the committee demands that MeitY undertake a comprehensive overhaul of the entire government infrastructure to fix this vulnerability.

Under the leadership of Member of Parliament Prataprao Jadhav, the parliamentary committee calls for swift action to strengthen the cybersecurity of government websites and critical digital infrastructure. The report emphasizes the importance of secure digital payment systems and online security measures in protecting sensitive data. It urges the implementation of strong security protocols to ensure secure transactions and protect citizens’ privacy.

The increasing number of reported website hacking incidents in recent years is cause for concern. In 2018 alone, 110 incidents were reported, followed by 54 in 2019, 59 in 2020, 42 in 2021, 50 in 2022, and a further 58 (as of September) in 2023. These figures highlight the consistent rise in cyber threats targeting government websites, posing risks such as compromised information, service disruption, and erosion of public trust.

To address these challenges, the committee emphasizes the need for collaboration between MeitY, CERT-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team), and other relevant agencies. CERT-In, responsible for reporting and tracking cybersecurity incidents, has played a crucial role in mitigating risks. However, the committee insists on regular updates regarding the actions taken to counter cyber threats and safeguard government websites.

The report underscores the importance of robust security measures for digital payment systems. It emphasizes the need for strong encryption, multi-factor authentication, and routine security audits to protect personal and financial data from unauthorized access. By implementing these safeguards for digital transactions, the government can instill confidence in its citizens and maintain the integrity of its digital infrastructure.

Furthermore, the committee highlights the significance of continuous monitoring and swift response to cyber threats. It advocates for the use of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect and prevent cyber attacks. By investing in cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions, the government can strengthen its digital infrastructure and proactively stay ahead of malicious actors.

With the recent release of the report on February 8, the government must take prompt action to review and implement the committee’s recommendations. In today’s interconnected world, enhancing the cybersecurity of government websites and critical digital infrastructure is not a luxury but a necessity.

In conclusion, the parliamentary committee’s report serves as a strong call to action to address the increasing number of hacking incidents targeting government websites. Protecting sensitive information and implementing robust cybersecurity measures are crucial for the government’s success. By heeding the committee’s recommendations, strengthening security protocols, and proactively countering evolving threats, the government can ensure the integrity of its digital infrastructure and maintain public trust in the digital age.