The 20th century has brought to reality the idea of a global village, where digital technology has interconnected and enmeshed the world economies, cultures and populations. India is no exception, with over 560 million internet users as of 2020, making it the second-largest internet population in the world. While greater connectivity via the World Wide Web (www) promises large-scale progress, it also leaves our digital societies open to new vulnerabilities. “The cost of doing business in the digital age is to protect your IT systems and investments, and the economic impact of cyber crime should be one of the most important things businesses are focusing on because failure to protect their intellectual property [IP], financial information and IT networks does have an economic impact.” Cyber crimes know no borders and evolve at a pace at par with emerging technologies. According to researchers, too much attention is paid to which country or cyber crime group is behind attacks to identify who is to blame, whereas the more important focus should be on the economic impact, how that can be reduced and the return on investment in cyber defenses. “The reality is that cyber crime is just an evolution of traditional crime and has a direct impact on economic growth, jobs, innovation and investment,” he said. “Companies need to understand that in today’s world, cyber risk is business risk.” IP theft alone accounts for at least 25% of the cost of cyber crime and threatens national security when it involves military technology, the report said. “IP theft and loss of opportunity are two areas of cyber crime impact that are extremely difficult to measure, but we have seen that IP theft and lost opportunities can be fatal for companies, especially for small and medium-sized businesses,” said business executive. Cyber attacks in the country caused financial damages to the tune of about USD 500,000 to India companies in the last 12-18 months, says a study.
The types of cyber crime that have the biggest economic impact include:
* The loss of IP and business-confidential information.
* Online fraud and financial crimes, often the result of stolen personally identifiable information.
* Financial manipulation directed toward publicly traded companies.
* Opportunity costs, including disruption in production or services and reduced trust in online activities.
* The cost of securing networks, buying cyber insurance and paying for recovery from cyber attacks.
* Reputational damage and liability risk for the affected company and its brand.
Cyber attacks can deliver economic blows, derail India from its projected growth trajectory and worsen relations with our neighbours, unleashing a state of anarchy,” the report released recently said. Citing rise in digital payments and projected growth of India’s digital economy to $1 trillion in next 5-7 years from $270 billion at present, the report said that the growth is opening up gaps which can be exploited by the adversaries. “The number of incidents reported by the Indian Computer Emergency Response (CERT-In) was 27,482 till June 2017. Cyber adversaries are becoming more sophisticated and resourceful. Among more than 100 countries that were hit by WannaCry, India was the third worst affected,” the report said. The joint report has recommended government to increase focus on critical infrastructure in the country, collaborative effort from business organizations, training people even at school level and creation of indigenous tools for building secure and cyber-resilient environment in the country. The report has suggested that Government should encourage and enforce Internet service providers to provide clean Internet to citizens, which is devoid of any computer virus, botnet or distributed denial of service (DDoS) malwares. As per the survey conducted by Cisco cyber security researchers, it is found that 30 percent of security professionals said they used products from 25 to 50 vendors and 54 percent of breaches affected more than half of their systems in 2018. These attacks can impact computers on a massive scale and can persist for months or even years. It is important that security adopts new tools like Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and incorporate best strategies to mitigate risks. Cyber security attacks have also resulted in job losses across different functions in more than three in five (64%) organizations that have experienced an incident during the survey period. The report also includes some recommendations on how to deal with cyber crime, including:
* Uniform implementation of basic security measures and investment in defensive technologies.
* Increased cooperation among international law enforcement agencies.
* Improved collection of data by national authorities.
* Greater standardization and coordination of cyber security requirements.
* Massive awareness among business stakeholders to tackle cyber threats.
The author likes to conclude this write up by this quote of Stephane Nappo, “Cyber-Security is much more than a matter of IT. It takes 20 years to build a reputation in business and few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it.”
(The author is Cyber Passionate & Sr. Faculty – GCET)