NGO calls for cyber monitoring to prevent repeat of NE exodus

CHENNAI: In the aftermath of the rumour-fuelled exodus to the northeast, the Cyber Society of India (CSI), an NGO, has suggested that a national monitoring agency be set up exclusively for cyber security.

At a press conference on Tuesday, V Rajendran, an advocate dealing with cyber crime and vice-president of CSI, said, "Although the government's reaction in banning bulk SMSs is laudable, it is still a knee-jerk reaction. We cannot wait for a similar situation to happen before reacting. We need to put preventive measures in place."

The debate comes in the wake of anonymous SMSs in bulk, threatening reprisals in retaliation to the ethnic strife in Assam, being forwarded to Assamese diaspora living across the country who then rushed back home. Morphed images of ethnic conflict led to the government blocking 89 websites and imposing a limit on SMS sent per day to five initially. It was later extended to 20.

The CSI called for setting up a cyber monitoring agency. "It should be empowered to receive information about potential attacks from intelligence agencies and take action in time. We already have a Computer Emergency Response Team India (CERT-In) ," he said. "It can take swift decisions on blocking as per procedure instead of approaching the court. In the future, the government can filter official and internal communication through CERT-In."

Demanding ID proof for creating websites or email IDs also needs to be considered, they said. "All online domain spaces could be authenticated with a mobile number verification," said Rajendran. "Then the law only needs to contact the telecom service provider during an investigation. Another long term measure is to develop indigenous operation systems, firewalls and search engines for better cyber security."

Security on government websites has for long been debated. Two months ago, the TN police website was hacked and information regarding a petition was stolen. According to the CSI, what is most important is better cooperation among agencies like RAW, NTRO, IB, defence and state governments. But law-enforcers maintain that prevention is difficult under the current set-up. "We will need government authorisation for most steps we might take," said an official.