Be aware of cyber warfare, equip police to combat threats: Vic President

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the era of New Age cyber warfare, and the new enemy can be combated only through the power of knowledge. He was addressing the gathering on the occasion of 48th Foundation Day of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), here today. The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President cautioned against the cyber attacks by hackers working over the Internet thousands of miles away and asked police to be equipped to handle attacks that jeopardize national security. He further asked the BPR&D to evolve best practices, policies and procedures in policing to combat emerging new age National Security threats. 

The Vice President said that knowledge and competence of our police forces and the ability to innovate, improvise and implement will be critical in strengthening national security. We need a “Surakshit Bharat” as much as a “Samruddh Bharat” and we cannot have a “Surakshit Bharat” without a “Saksham Bharat”, he added.

The Vice President said that Indian Government has taken various measures to prevent cyber attacks and stressed on the need to augment police response capacities. He further said that the set up for combating the new enemy in Cyber Space can no longer be housed within the walls of a seemingly secure single government agency.

The Vice President called for a reorientation of the existing paradigm and said that all security agencies must work in close coordination and also with the private sector manning to establish a foolproof ecosystem.

The Vice President said that the Government & private sector must establish joint mechanisms to protect the police a force against the future challenges, including, the threats of modern warfare. All police forces of the country have to equip themselves with the cyber forensic techniques and knowledge to counter a cyber-attack or investigate a cyber-crime, he added.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

I am happy to attend the Foundation Day Function of Bureau of Police Research and Development, a national body under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which integrates all State Police Forces, Central Police Armed Forces and Central Police Organizations and Correctional Administrative set up of the country.

I am aware that the Bureau is responsible for undertaking systemic studies of police and prison problems with the objective to improve the quality of delivery of police and correctional services throughout the country. The Bureau also conducts regular training programmes to improve the professionalism of the police force in the country and ensure that it is well-equipped to respond effectively to the changing social situations.

I am sure that BPR&D, as the national think tank on policing, will constantly come up with concrete suggestions to improve and bring policing in India on par with global standards by adopting the best practices.

With the Bureau focusing on National Police Mission Projects, it must open new vistas of knowledge for the police forces. Methods and techniques adopted by the police must be scientific. I am told that as part of improving the methods and techniques of policing, the BPR&D actively engages scholars, professionals, businessmen, industrialists, NGOs and various social justice organisations in its work. This collaboration between experts in various domains and the police forces is important in the present era of knowledge based society. Moreover, today, without a single shot fired or a drop of blood spilled, an entire country can be crippled.

This is the era of New Age Warfare, the cyber warfare, and the new enemy can be combated only through the power of knowledge. Unlike the spies of the Cold War era, when collaborators would provide access to secret documents to physically copy and photograph documents, the new age spies do not need any physical access. Working over the Internet thousands of miles away, the hackers can suck out thousands of secret documents, jeopardising national security.

I will cite just two examples of the most debilitating attacks in modern times in which no shots were fired and no tanks rolled.

In 2006, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme of US military, claimed to be producing one the world’s most advanced combat aircraft, had been compromised. In 2007, anonymous hackers, suspected to be operating from Russia, launched a massive cyber-attack on information systems of Estonia. For three days, this country faced chaos. Systems refused to re-start and ATMs refused to dispense cash, as the financial architecture, based on millions of lines of code, had crashed. Hackers brought critical infrastructure sectors such as banking and power to a grinding halt.

These two examples illustrate the vulnerability of the systems that operate in some of the most critical sectors of a country. From defence to energy, power, aviation and law enforcement, every sector today depends on computer networks that would need to be always protected and strengthened by a slew of measures against future threats. In fact, cyber attackers strike at places where such an attack is least expected.

The Indian Government has taken various measures to prevent cyber attacks. The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) was created and placed under the technical intelligence agency, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), to roll out counter-measures in cooperation with other security agencies and private corporate entities that man critical sectors. However, any new threat has to be countered by augmenting police response capacities. The set up for combating the new enemy in cyber space, can no longer be housed within the walls of a seemingly secure single government agency. All police forces of the country have to equip themselves with the cyber forensic techniques and knowledge to counter a cyber-attack or investigate a cyber-crime.

BPR&D has a huge responsibility in evolving the best practices, policies and procedures in policing.

I am glad that the Central Detective Training Institute at Hyderabad under BPR&D has emerged as a Centre of Excellence for Cyber Crime and Cyber Security. I am told that the BPR&D Headquarters is also creating virtual classroom facility to train police forces across the country in various issues such as Cyber Crime, Gender Justice Issues and policing Smart Cities. I am informed that the Bureau has identified 45 citizen based services related to policing. The objective of any such activity must be to bring transparency, accountability and improve efficiency of police.

I am told that the Bureau has already implemented Victim Protection Scheme, successfully launched Student Police Cadet Programme and collated Safe City Parameters. I am also told that it is working on the first ever Crime Victimisation Survey, modernisation Impact Analysis Survey and on projects such as Tourism Policing, Lean and Flat Structure of Policing, Prison Technologies and best Prison Practices. I am sure that all these projects shall go a long way in establishing a safe and secure social milieu.

Ideally, the government and private sector should come together and establish joint mechanisms to protect the police forces against the future challenges, including, the threats of modern warfare. However, this requires a reorientation of the existing paradigm. It takes a great deal of understanding to evolve and work together by building trust and joint mechanisms to protect each other.

I am told that at a recent police expo organised at the BPR&D Head Quarters, young SPs from all over the country got an opportunity to learn the fundamentals and techniques of Predictive Policing, Crime Analytics, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Geospatial Technologies, among others. As many as 70 Business Houses displayed their equipment and gadgets that will have an application of these new techniques of policing and which may act as force multipliers.

Over a period of 48 years since its inception, BPR&D has expanded its role, performance and leadership in policing in a very significant manner. I am happy to learn that the agency has also commenced work with NITI Aayog on modernisation of police forces. The research force has a platform called NCIS, which actively collaborates with IIT-Mumbai. It is planning a national technology platform, with members of IIT-Delhi to come up with simple technological solutions for India’s police. It also has plans to partner with ISRO on communication technology issues and look for automation solutions for ensuring a hassle free policing.

In India, all security agencies need to work in close coordination and also with the private sector manning to establish a foolproof ecosystem. This will mean working together to conduct joint exercises, map vulnerabilities, and build counter-measures. BPR&D must also prepare an index for ranking of states on their preparedness to counter crime, terrorism and focus on upgradation of the knowledge and competence.

For a nation that seeks to achieve the vision of ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’, and an “Incredible India”, BPR&D must play a more pro-active role in making our country a safe place.

We need a “Surakshit Bharat” as much as a “Samruddh Bharat”. And we cannot have a “Surakshit Bharat” without a “Saksham Bharat”. The knowledge and competence of our police forces and the ability to innovate, improvise and implement will be critical in strengthening national security.

I am sure that various initiatives taken by you will help achieve this goal.

My best wishes to the Director General and his entire team for all future endeavours!

JAI HIND!”

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AKT/BK/RK

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