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Last updated: 30 May, 2017  

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Bikky Khosla | 30 May, 2017
The WannaCry ransomware recently created havoc worldwide, infecting nearly 3 lakh computers in over 150 countries. The target was majorly healthcare and government infrastructure in the western countries, and fortunately the level of damage India suffered was substantially less compared to other countries. But it is a no brainer to say that such cyber attacks will continue in the future, and India being at the cusp of the digital revolution seems to be critically prone to them. The WannaCry incident should be an eye-opener for the government to ramp up India's cyber security preparedness.

Cyberattacks can be a big threat to national security in today's world. Noticeably, WannaCry was not a big-time nation-state operation and the attack was majorly against civilian entities, but the havoc it created was unprecedented. It is not difficult to imagine what could happen if a more sophisticated cyberattack from an enemy state takes over control of our defence systems, critical infrastructure industries or the financial infrastructure.  It is not exaggerating to say that days are not far when battleground among nations will extend to the cyber world and in this scenario we can no more afford to be a laggard.

First of all, self-reliance is the key. We must be able to develop indigenous sophisticated software, systems and means of cyber security. Second, we need a stringent policy framework for better regulation of cyber security to ensure efficient detection of cyber threats, software authenticity, risk assessment and dissemination of software updates. Also, measures must be taken to spread mass awareness and at the same time build an effective cyber army of our own, encouraging our tech-savvy youths and creating a new start-up ecosystem that specialises in cyber security. The sooner such steps are taken, the better it is.

Meanwhile, a recent report says that SMEs are more vulnerable than large businesses to WannaCry-like attacks. This is largely because they generally lack awareness. Some  believe they are too small to be of interest to cyber attackers. Also, SMEs usually have so many different priorities to contend with that cyber security often takes a back seat to these priorities. Cyber criminals try to exploit these weaknesses. It is why SMEs need to be extra vigilant to safeguard themselves from cyber attacks and deploy a complete security strategy to mitigate the increasing cyber risks in today's increasingly interconnected world.

I invite your opinions.
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