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Defending The Digital Frontier

Cyberspace- the term, was coined by William Gibson, a science-fiction writer who used it in a short story in 1982 and later in a novel, Neuromancer. In the book, Mr. Gibson describes cyberspace as “a graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system.” Cyberspace today is the environment of devices, networks, fibre-optic cables, wireless links and other infrastructure that bring the Internet to billions of people around the world. While the connections enabled by these technologies have brought tremendous benefits to everyone every day, cyber vulnerabilities are a reality as well. Underscoring its importance, our Cybersecurity Engagement Center in New Delhi is committed to security and partnering with India in its digital transformation. It will serve as a platform for Microsoft to foster a safer digital world by enabling deeper cybersecurity collaborations with public and private sector organizations in India, and the public at large.

Cyber vulnerabilities are real and present – and the latitude of security breaches can go beyond the individual and affect entire enterprises and countries as well. In April 2007, when the small Baltic country of Estonia witnessed a series of cyberattacks that knocked out websites of its government, political parties, newspapers, corporates and banks, it was a wake-up call not just for Estonia, but for every country, corporation, and individual around the world. More recently, in August 2015, the Pentagon’s network was breached through a never-before-seen social media account encryption attack. The attack affected over 4,000 military and civilian personnel and shook the world with questions regarding security. Cybersecurity is clearly more relevant than ever before. And while it may affect enterprises and the state at large, it is fundamentally about protecting the people and what’s important to them. People are at the heart of Microsoft’s vision of empowerment – and security is key to this empowerment. Building on our more-than-20-year history in online safety, Microsoft remains committed to doing its part to help grow and shape a better and safer Internet for everyone.

How vulnerable are we?

The Individual

People are one of the most critical, yet one of the weakest, links in the cyber defense chain. With the growing ease of transacting technology, people extensively use their computers and mobile phones to carry out banking transactions, to avoid the hassle of long queues and travel. From sharing passwords to working on malware-infected devices, to banking transactions; people are vulnerable to cybercriminals through ransomware, AdWare, data stealing and more.

The Enterprise

The last few years have seen an increase in cybercrime across regions and sectors for the enterprise. Given the proliferation of connected technologies, organizations face a significant challenge to be resilient against cyberattacks and incidents. Today, C-level executives and board members are concerned about increasing cyberattacks and newer incidents are being reported including DDOS attacks, data theft, ransomware, backdoors, payment systems, and business email frauds.

The Government

Cybersecurity, whether national, state, tribal, or local, is crucial for all government agencies. Microsoft is committed to supporting the needs of the government by enabling Cybersecurity across government priorities. Our services ensure that government organizations have the trust, security and compliance they need for sensitive data. Our Cybersecurity Center, supported by the Digital Crimes Unit, enables governments to do more and achieve more for the citizens they serve.

India’s digital frontier

Source: Internet Live Stats

The ambitious Digital India vision, combined with opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution, demand a comprehensive security infrastructure. Data is becoming all pervasive as nearly 500 million people in India get online. What’s more, with more people and businesses using various devices to connect to the Internet, security and privacy threats are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and malicious. With the Indian government laying emphasis on projects such as Digital India and Smart Cities, which rely on electronic infrastructure to store, retrieve and manage data, securing the country’s e-defenses is more crucial than ever before. As a long-term partner to India’s success, Microsoft is tuned-in to this need and is well-positioned to support the country’s digital transformation while providing the highest levels of data security and privacy with the India Cybersecurity Engagement Center. The pace of change in business continues to accelerate as the industry increasingly uses cloud computing and continues the adoption of personal and mobile devices in the workplace. The need of the hour is for India to support and sustain its digital transformation with the highest levels of security and privacy, which in turn, requires innovative technology adoption and public-private partnerships. Microsoft’s CSEC will help in providing a robust security layer for critical information infrastructure and help reduce malware and digital risk in the country. Enabling a safe digital India will enhance not only personal computing experiences but also productivity and competitiveness of businesses on the Indian economy.

“Cybersecurity is crucial for Digital India. A data driven economy can flourish only when governments, businesses and individuals have access to hyper scale and hyper flexible cloud computing with the confidence that their data is secure. Our Cybersecurity Engagement Center in New Delhi underlines our relentless commitment to security and partnering with India in its digital transformation.”

Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India

The Microsoft India Cybersecurity Engagement Center (CSEC)

With the launch of Cybersecurity Engagement Center in India, Microsoft has taken an industry-leading role in approaching cybersecurity in the country. Based out of Gurgaon, the center now joins a network of six similar centers across the world in Washington DC, Beijing, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore.

“Microsoft is presently partnering with agencies such as CERT India to conduct workshops by cybersecurity-related subject matter experts. We are also keen to collaborate with more government organizations to enable India address cybersecurity.”

Meenu Chandra, Senior Attorney, IP & DCU Lead

The way forward for cybersecurity

Assess deeper : Enterprises and the state need to carry out cyber risk assessment in-depth to ensure that the right assets are adequately protected to limit the impact of attacks.

Educate people : The human element can either make or break the cyber defense strategy. It is imperative to create a robust cyber awareness program that effectively educates its personnel and vendors alike.

Build intelligence : The world of cybercriminals is ever evolving. Organizations need to build robust cyber intelligence systems that can provide contextual information and actionable intelligence to anticipate attacks.

Use analytics : With a large threat landscape and a wide variety of threats and attacks, it is important for organizations to leverage big data analytics and related platforms that can serve as a secure operations & control system.

As evidenced, the Cybersecurity Engagement Center has a monumental task ahead of it – and an incredible opportunity as well. And while we know that cyber threats are a reality – we now also know that a robust team of digital defenders is also a reality – right here in India.