New Delhi: The union information technology (IT) ministry on Monday inaugurated a dedicated body to detect, prevent and mitigate the impact of cyber attacks on the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

NIC, which comes under the IT ministry, has a key role in e-governance at the national, state and district levels. Almost all Indian-government websites are developed and managed by NIC. Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the new body—NIC-Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) —on Monday.

NIC-CERT will work to ensure early detection and immediate mitigation of cyber attacks by monitoring data across the NIC platform, including communication between all the levels of government and between governments to citizens, Prasad said.

The minister called NIC-CERT “A very important institution of India in pursuit of safe and secure cyberspace has been established today."

If there is unusual movement on the NIC database, any foreign attack or if there is a malware in any government system, the CERT will work to detect these and immediately mitigate it, added Prasad.

“There are a lot of personally identifiable and sensitive data which is shared on our platform and it is our mandate to protect the data. With the establishment of NIC-CERT, we will be able to monitor the data in real time and protect the data in a better manner," said Neeta Verma, director general of NIC who was also present at the event.

“The mandate is to kill the attack before it is triggered... Our different teams will track the vulnerabilities and coordinate with the concerned government departments to mitigate it," added Verma.

“We are working to establish CERTs for the financial and power sectors. All these are to reinforce our cyber security architecture," said Prasad.

Last month, Mint had reported the government’s plan to introduce new sectoral CERTs.

NIC-CERT will operate in close coordination and collaboration with sectoral CERTs and more so with CERT-IN, added Prasad.

CERT-In is the national nodal agency under the IT ministry, which deals with cyber security threats such as hacking and phishing. It is tasked with the collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents and even taking emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents.

Prasad said the centre and states have to work together to ensure cyber safety.

In June, WannaCry ransomware cyber attack impacted computer systems and networks in more than 150 countries, including India. Central and state government portals were impacted.