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New Delhi: Alarmed by the rise in cyber security threats and after failing to blunt hate campaigns against people from the North-East on social media sites, a joint working group (JWG) headed by deputy national security adviser Latha Reddy has suggested various measures to strike a balance between the needs of the private sector and the requirements of law-enforcement agencies.

These recommendations include setting up a permanent JWG with members from the private and public sectors under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), a think tank on security that reports to the Prime Minister’s Office.

It also suggested setting up information and sharing analysis centres (ISACs) in various sectors that will coordinate and share information related to cyber threats, security breaches and attacks with the regional Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) office.

“The challenges from cyber space requires both the government and industry to work together," national security adviser Shivshankar Menon told reporters. “There is no question that the government can do this alone nor can the private sector do it on its own. We all need each other. We have not had (this partnership) in the past because of the unique nature of this domain."

Around 13,500 cyber security attacks took place against the government and the private sector last year, said J. Satyanarayana, secretary, department of electronics and information technology. The figure has crossed 20,000 this year, he said, adding India needs around 5 lakh cyber security professionals.

“At present, we just have a fraction of it," he said, hoping that the recommendations of the groups are implemented at the earliest. Representatives of various industry bodies in the JWG such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) advocated engaging with other countries for superior technology and adopting best practices worldwide.

Menon said most of the critical infrastructure such as power grids, transmission networks and air traffic control systems are in the private sector and it was in the sector’s self-interest that not only India remains a major IT destination but that it maintains its “reputation as safe and secure partner".

“From the government point of view, there are larger issues as well. We all have seen recent incidents of misuse of social media to spread misinformation to actually affect social harmony...We need to learn to deal with this," he said. “And the important thing is that how do we do it while maintaining democratic freedom and that is something we best work out together."

The government faced criticism after it blocked 280 websites and URLs purportedly featuring anti-inflammatory messages in the wake of violence in Assam.

Surabhi Agarwal contributed to this story.

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