Cyberattacks  surged  3-fold to 1.16 mn last year in India

On average, 3,137 cyber security-related issues were reported every day during 2020

Prashant K. Nanda
Updated23 Mar 2021
Experts said all sectors, including manufacturing, services, education, and healthcare, may see more such attacks in 2021
Experts said all sectors, including manufacturing, services, education, and healthcare, may see more such attacks in 2021(AFP)

India witnessed a surge in cyberattacks amid a rapid adoption of digital services across the country following the lockdown imposed in the wake of covid.

Nearly 1.16 million cases of cyberattacks were reported in 2020, up nearly three times from 2019 and more than 20 times compared to 2016, according to government data presented in the Parliament on Tuesday. On an average, 3,137 cyber security-related issues were reported every day during the year.

“As per the information reported to and tracked by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), 3,94,499 and 11,58,208 cyber security incidents have been observed during 2019 and 2020, respectively,” the home ministry informed Parliament in a reply.

About 115,000 cyber-attacks were reported every month between September-December, totaling about 460,000 in these four months, according to official data. Last September, the government had said that 696,938 cyberattacks were reported in the months between January and August.

CERT-In has registered a massive surge in cyber security threats over the past few years. There were 53,117 cases of cyber attacks in the country in 2017. This had risen to 208,456 in 2018 and 394,499 in 2019. Research firms and experts said cases are likely to increase in 2021 and all sectors, including manufacturing, services, education, and healthcare, may see more such attacks.

Government has taken several measures to enhance cyber security systems, the home ministry said. CERT-In has also issued “alerts and advisories regarding cyber threats and vulnerabilities and countermeasures to protect computers and networks on a regular basis”, it said.

The government has issued guidelines for chief information security officers regarding their key roles and responsibilities for securing applications and infrastructure, and compliance. It has also mandated regular cyber security audits and mock drills. The National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) has started to generate situational awareness of existing and potential cyber security threats. Phase I of the programme is already operational, the ministry said.

“With proliferation in internet and mobile phone usage, there is a rise in the number of cyber security incidents in the country, as well as globally. Proactive tracking by CERT-In, including its Cyber SwachhtaKendra and NCCC, and improved cyber security awareness,” the ministry of electronics and information technology had told the Lok Sabha in September.

“More and more aspects of our lives are becoming dependent on technology and connectivity to internet. As a result, we present a much wider attack surface than ever before. It’s likely, therefore, that we will see more disruptive attacks in the future,” cyber security research organization Kaspersky had warned in a recent report.

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