Welcome Address by Shri Jayant Prasad, DG, IDSA at 18th Asian Security Conference on "Securing Cyberspace: Asian and International Perspectives", February 9-11, 2016
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  • Air Marshal PP Reddy, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff,
    Distinguished panellists, participants and guests,
    Members of IDSA’s Executive Council and the Indian strategic community,
    Friends from the media,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Good morning and welcome to the 18th Asian Security Conference.

    This year, the Conference is devoted to cybersecurity.

    It covers six different facets of cybersecurity – the global cybersecurity environment, the international and regional responses to cybersecurity challenges, non-state actors and cyberspace, securing strategic critical infrastructure, cybersecurity and the digital economy, and the role of the military in cybersecurity.

    A final session focuses on cybersecurity futures.

    We have 30 speakers from 17 countries from five continents addressing these diverse issues.

    The Institute had published its seminal Task Force Report on “India’s Cyber Security Challenge” in March 2012.

    The Chairperson of the expert group, Dr. Nitin Desai, had distilled the core messages of the report under following different heads:

    1. First, the need to strengthen the inter-ministerial coordination arrangements for cyberspace security under the National Security Adviser (NSA);
    2. Second, the case for a new Cyber Command in the structure of the defence forces;
    3. Third, public-private partnerships for information security in identified sectors dependent on the use of Information & Communication Technology;
    4. Fourth, legislative measures to handle the special features of crime and security in cyberspace;
    5. Fifth, need for an international environment that can facilitate national defence; and
    6. Sixth, capacity building to cope with a potentially crippling shortage of qualified personnel.

    Much remain to be done from the core recommendations made.

    Meanwhile, Government of India unveiled its National Cybersecurity Policy the following year, on 2nd July 2013, outlining its vision “to build a secure and resilient cyberspace for citizens, business, and government.”

    The focus on citizenry is related to the many public policy initiatives, such as the unique ID, development of smart city technologies, and now, the Digital India initiative.

    There is an effort to bring tangible change in the quality of life of ordinary people through encouragement of mobile payments and digital empowerment to cut red tape and corruption through a variety of E-governance and M-governance initiatives (where M stands for Mobile).

    The national cybersecurity policy mapped a comprehensive menu of tasks. These include:

    1. Creating a secure cyber ecosystem
    2. Creating an assurance framework
    3. Encouraging open standards
    4. Strengthening the regulatory framework
    5. Creating mechanisms for security threat early-warning, vulnerability management, and response to security threats
    6. Securing e-governance services
    7. Protection and resilience of critical information infrastructure
    8. Promotion of research and development in cybersecurity
    9. Reducing supply-chain risks
    10. Creating cybersecurity awareness
    11. Developing effective public and private partnerships, and
    12. Information sharing and cooperation, including with other countries.

    This Conference is a step towards the last-mentioned objective.

    A major goal for us is to increase public awareness of the risks that we face today.

    In a broad sense, and in a language comprehensible to non-technical persons, cyberspace is where information technology and the electromagnetic spectrum come together – it’s superstructure layered over by the sub-structure of cables, computers, and sea, land and space-based communications networks, energised by the use of information technology.

    India’s policy document defines cyberspace as a complex environment comprising interaction between people, software and services, based on a world-wide platform of information and communication technology devices and networks.

    Cyberspace is vulnerable to attacks that can be fast, silent, inexpensive to mount, and devastating in their impact. Our Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, while flagging off the Digital India Week last July, spoke of “the clouds of a bloodless war hovering over the world.”

    By bloodless, he did not imply that it is not less deadly in its consequences than conventional war.

    He described cybersecurity as an integral part of national security.

    Our speakers at the Conference are a mix of academicians, practitioners, serving military officers, and domain experts.

    The informed audience is similarly constituted.

    This should make for invigorating and productive discussions.

    With these prefatory remarks, I have the pleasure to invite Air Marshal Reddy to deliver his keynote address.

    You have the floor, Sir.


    Details of Asian Security Conference

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