In this year’s budget speech the Finance Minister spoke
of a mission to be set up “with a target of 2,500Crore digital transactions for
2017-18” via multiple platforms including BHIM and IMPS. This push from the
government has opened up a glaring issue that needs to be handled while India
merrily begins its digi-payments journey: Cyber security.
Indeed, recent allegations by Skoch group’s Chairman
Sameer Kochar created furor in the media and political circles alike when
Kochar wrote an article showing purported hacks of the Aadhaar system. This has
brought back memories of several hacks and data breaches in the mind of the
Indian populace while Industry experts feel that academic activity in the field
of cybersecurity has to be encouraged.
Rewind to October 2016, when Indian banks including the
SBI, HDFC, Axis Bank, YES Bank were the targets of a powerful hacking operation
that compromised the card information of over 3.2 million customers. The sheer
volume of people’s money held in the vaults of these banks throws some light on
how destructive these attacks can potentially be and how much more is on stake
as banks continue to function in an increasingly riskier cyberspace. Another
noted case was the Legion hacks case where email accounts of individuals like
Rahul Gandhi, Barkha Dutt, Ravish Kumar and Vijay Mallya were surreptitiously
accessed and then dumped for the world to see. Then there are scarier cases
like the Deepak Nitrite hack where a hacker group took over the Gujarat based
company’s email server and directed a customer to transfer payment money to
another account and that too in Malaysia!
It is not unfathomable that numerous other attacks happen
and many organizations keep mum fearing loss of “safe” reputation and customer
base. The increasing number of digital transactions only increase the risk we
are exposed to. India jumped to 6.2 million transactions worth 2,390crore INR
in March while there had been 4.2 million transactions worth 1900crore INR,
says the RBI.
Now at this large scale of transactions and millions of
them happening every month, the risk of another attack is only looming large. A
CISCO report says that the world currently has about 1 million unfilled
positions in the (cyber) security bracket and that hackers responsible for 20
percent of revenue losses across the globe.
In this light, the need for cybersecurity professionals
and IT students specializing in cybersecurity is quite evident and here are
some of the institutions that can help you acquire this almost “esoteric”
knowledge and make you the most wanted professional in your field:
The list is non-exhaustive and you are urged to undertake
further research into more institutions offering such programs. Several foreign
institutions also offer programs in this field.
The gist, however, is that if you are a computer
professional or a computer science graduate then a huge, competitive and
rewarding market is waiting ahead for you. With momentous growth in the field
of cloud based services and digital payments, all and any attempts to bring
them in tandem with Aadhaar will only open further avenues for a cybersecurity
professional and clearly the best time to be one is now, for the future is