2021 saw cyberattacks increasing in scale and sophistication. Criminals with links to states were undeterred by several measures taken at the global and national levels. It appeared that the digital space is competing with the public health sector in churning out different variants of viruses that are impacting national economy and security. India was the sixth largest victim of ransomware attacks, with around 12.1 lakh cybersecurity incidents were observed till October 2021.
Pakistani and Chinese agencies continue to attack the Indian Cyber and Information space. The Indian government banned two news websites and 20 YouTube channels linked to Pakistan’s disinformation network for fake content affecting public order. Among rising threats and growing sophistication of attacks by adversaries, the government announced the setting up of a Unified Task Force, synergising the efforts of security and cyber agencies. It also mandated retention of call data and internet usage records for two years to facilitate the work of law enforcement authorities. For better border management along the LAC in Ladakh, telecom infrastructure is being upgraded.
5G trials are being effectively carried out by telecom service providers and equipment vendors across cities and villages with the allotted trial frequency spectrum. To test Indian use cases and technologies, test beds have been created. The indigenous 5Gi standard has been merged with global 3GPP-5G standards, paving the way for global deployment with high-speed, high-quality and inter-operable connectivity. However, challenges remain in terms of spectrum rationalisation and infrastructure.
To boost the semiconductor and display manufacturing eco-system in India, the government has announced a $10 billion scheme under the India Semiconductor Mission that will provide up to 50% incentives to chip manufacturers. Further, to retain chip design patents and IPR in India, it has launched ‘Chip to Start-up’ program under the ‘Design linked incentive’ scheme. Several global and Indian companies have shown interest.
In spite of sanctions and high level meetings to curb cyberattacks, ransomware gangs across the globe remain undeterred. Millions of dollars are being extorted by encryption and the promise of decryption of data in exchange for ransom. Meta has banned several Facebook and Instagram accounts of ‘surveillance for hire’ firms.
Australia announced plans for a licensing framework for cryptocurrency exchanges and launching of a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC). The UK government launched one of the world’s first national standard for algorithmic transparency to support significant decisions affecting individuals. It also launched its National Cyber Strategy 2022 to guide its activities in cyberspace to protect and promote national goals.