Quantum Computing Will Open Cybersecurity’s Next Theater of War
In July, India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under MeitY reported that it had observed 6.74 lakh cybersecurity incidents till June 2022. The number of such incidents has grown at a breakneck pace over the past decade. The digital transformation and technology proliferation movements in the two years of the pandemic and beyond have further underscored the need for increased cybersecurity awareness and policies.
Every year, October is celebrated as Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) to shed light on the dangers lurking in the digital landscape. With CSAM as a backdrop, Sandip Patel (Managing Director at IBM India/South Asia) spoke with BW Businessworldby Rohit Chintapali to shed light on India’s cybersecurity scenario, the role of government in putting in place the necessary safeguards and the anticipated threats in the next era of quantum computing.
What is your observation on India and cybersecurity in general?
Cybersecurity is very relevant in today’s world. With massive digitization, it is urgent that the world be cyber-resilient. It cannot be stressed enough and it will clearly remain a top priority for businesses in 2023, with India championing the digital trust movement for this Techade.
If you look at some of the figures released by Cert-In, there were over 6.74 lakh cyber security incidents in India as of mid-2022. Then if you look at data from the National Crimes Record Bureau, there were nearly 53,000 cybercrime cases in 2021, which is a 5% increase from 2020. But it was a 15% increase from 2019. The number continues to increase.
According to IBM’s latest report, the average cost of a data breach in India is Rs 17.6 crore in 2022. The number has increased by 6.6% since last year when the cost was Rs 16 .5 crore and represents a 25% increase over the last two years.
What should companies do in such a scenario?
Businesses really need to look inward and close security gaps to build a more resilient future. Why is this even more relevant for India? On October 1, we saw PM Modi launch 5G service in India during the sixth edition of India Mobile Congress (IMC). This is going to create a whole new revolution in the digital transformation landscape. But as 5G becomes a reality, more and more devices will be connected with the promise of fast internet speeds and we will soon have cutting-edge services. This means that there will be more services in different locations and this will put enormous pressure on existing security monitoring methods.
In an age where fast internet speeds and increasing numbers of devices prevail in a decentralized fashion, it is important that systems are kept up to date.
If we are truly living in the ‘Techade’ for India, where much of our growth trajectory will come from digitalization, then that is where we will need to be secure to deliver the promise of trust and ability to do Business. Moreover, if we want India to be the hub of digitalization, our ability to help drive cybersecurity protocols and more, becomes a priority.
Why is it so important for the Indian government to take the lead in cybersecurity in this era of rapid digitalization?
The government finds its relevance in the implementation of good regulations which act as guardrails. They define certain parameters called standard operating practices, which are extremely crucial.
As you know, a Cyber Security Bill was introduced by the Government of India (GoI) earlier this year. There has been quite a bit of discussion about this within the industry and IBM has also given specific advice on this based on its experience with other governments around the world. The bill is currently being reviewed before being tabled and accepted.
This kind of partnership with the government allows for the right kind of guardrails, policies, and regulations that help people and organizations not only become more aware of cybersecurity issues, but also put certain controls and guidelines in place. This happens in most of the major economies of the world and those who do not have such security barriers work there because they see all the negative effects of cyber incidents.
After visiting our state-of-the-art IBM Security Command Center in Bengaluru earlier this year, MoS Rajeev Chandrasekhar told me that cybersecurity must be a shared responsibility between government and business.
What are the threats associated with quantum computing technology?
As quantum computing becomes mainstream, it will also reach the point where, once quantum computers are scalable, they will equip bad actors to break many of the major cybersecurity protocols in use today. Many of these bad actors are already ahead of the game in figuring out how they can do it.
Quantum computing will open the next theater of war for cybersecurity. And prioritizing Quantum-Safe cryptography is the best way to prepare for it. This will therefore be a new area of intervention that will gain in relevance. Computer systems will need to be upgraded to quantum-safe cryptography as a priority.
The US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released four quantum-safe cryptography protocol standards for cybersecurity, which will be established after extensive study. IBM has been deeply involved in the development of three of the four protocols that have come to market.