The Budget 2018 is about to be out. Every Budget has its own significance but the importance of Budget 2018 can hardly be overstated. While the Budget allocations have been on traditional items of expenditure, growing developments in cyberspace have now increasingly necessitated that specific allocation be made for protection and preservation of cybersecurity.
The USA and the UK have the most robust cyber security systems in the world, thanks to proactive approach of theirgovernments. President Barack Obama allocated $19 billion for cybersecurity for the fiscal year 2017. It was more than one-third increase from the previous year. The USA government made it clear that online attacks are a major threat to the highly digitised society of the country. After terrorist attacks in Paris, in 2015, killing 130 people many countries strengthened their cybersecurity. UK government’s immediate response to the attack was to double its cyber security budget to more than 2 billion pounds ($ 2.3 billion).
On the other hand, India’s budget allocation is miniscule by any standards, even if we don’t compare India with the USA and the UK.
Total budget allocation for cybersecurity in last five fiscal years since 2012-13 is only Rs 320 crore (about $50 million). And a large part of it went towards the administrative expenses of the organisations responsible for cybersecurity in the country.
When we look at Budget 2018, a critical focus area of allocations would need to be the protection and preservation of cybersecurity. The Government of India needs to allocate dedicated funds in Budget 2018 to deal with prevention of cybersecurity breaches. This becomes even more important, given the various recent instances of Aadhaar breaches, pursuant to which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) registered certain FIRs.
In the absence of a robust cyber security system in place, online transactions are vulnerable to cyberattacks and cyber thefts. What is being promoted as a solution may bring more problems rather than solving the issue. Digital payments through any mode – credit/debit cards, wallets or online banking – are at the risk of online attacks.
Digital India is the next step in the direction of transforming India into a knowledge society and economy. While distinct funds would be allocated to Digital India programme, the Government needs to appreciate that Digital India programme alone cannot succeed without preservation and protection of cybersecurity.
All eyes are now on the Government to see as to how it treats the significance of cybersecurity