Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot announced yesterday that the Indian government is taking specific measures to ensure the security of Government websites in India, after 117 websites were hacked between January and June in 2011.

In a written reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha, Sachin Pilot said that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) carried out an analysis on the web server logs of the hacked websites and suggested specific steps and countermeasures to the ministry, to patch the existing vulnerabilities and strengthen the security of these websites.

Among the steps that are being taken by the Ministry to prevent regular hacking occurrences and thereby ensure cyber security, are:

  1. New Government websites and applications will be audited from the cyber security perspective prior to their hosting and after, on a regular basis.
  2. National Informatics Centre (NIC), which plays a crucial role of driving e-governance applications at national, state and district levels and hosts almost all government websites, has been forbidden to host websites which haven’t undergone the above mentioned cyber security audit.
  3. NIC has also been directed to upgrade and improve the security of its hosting infrastructure.
  4. CERT-In will issue alerts and advisories regarding the latest developments in cyber crime and suggest countermeasures on regular basis.
  5. The central and state government ministries/ departments will implement the Crisis Management Plan to counter cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.

Our Take

As suggested by the stats above, government websites getting hacked is becoming quite a regular occurrence. In fact, Anonymous India reportedly took just 3 mins to deface the NIC website, before it was booted off Facebook and Twitter, indicating the fact that the infrastructure which powers important websites was very fragile.

The above mentioned security steps are definitely encouraging, but it remains to be seen whether these measures will be implemented thoroughly by the Indian government.