In today’s global landscape, India has become a focal point for major nations, drawing attention to its investment opportunities and burgeoning business prospects. The technological revolution sweeping across the country has positioned India as an attractive option in the eyes of many.
However, with these advancements, challenges emerge. In an era where digital interactions seamlessly integrate into our daily lives, the paramount importance of safeguarding the data of millions of Indians takes center stage.
Surfshark’s analysis, coupled with insights from IBM Security’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, highlights a significant shift in the cybersecurity landscape. In Q4 2022, the total number of leaked accounts stood at 8.5 million, with a hacking rate of 65 accounts per minute. However, in the first quarter of 2023, this figure dropped to 2 million leaked accounts, reflecting a reduced rate of 16 accounts per minute. Simultaneously, the ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report’ indicates a concerning trend in India, with the average cost of a data breach reaching an all-time high of ₹17.9 crore in 2023, signifying a nearly 28% increase since 2020. “This convergence of data underscores the critical need for heightened cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive information in an evolving digital landscape”, shares Romil Ramgarhia.
“Amidst a colossal 900 million internet users in India, safeguarding data becomes an imperative for the government. As disclosed by Resecurity on October 15, identifiable information of 815 million Indian citizens, including Aadhaar numbers and passport details was released on the dark web. If true, this constitutes a substantial threat to the safety of Indians and a severe breach of personal data. To fulfill the vision of a Digital India, the government must stay one step ahead in ensuring robust cybersecurity measures.” explains Romil Ramgarhia Ex- COO of BARC India.
The widespread availability of biometric data raises concerns about potential misuse, emphasizing the need for robust cybersecurity measures. As biometrics integrate into various aspects of daily life, clear regulations and safeguards are essential to address legal and ethical boundaries. Protecting individuals from unwarranted surveillance and ensuring ethical handling of biometric data are paramount. Continuous advancements in security protocols are imperative to thwart cyber threats targeting biometric information and strengthen systems against hacking and breaches.
However, the Indian government is actively taking measures to handle these threats. The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, of 2023, marks a significant legislative step in India’s pursuit of robust data protection. This bill has the potential to reshape the digital interaction landscape. “Key highlights include the bill’s jurisdiction over digital personal information handling within India, encompassing data collected through online or offline digitized methods, even if processed outside India, provided goods or services are involved within the Indian territory”, according to Romil Ramgarhia. Processing personal data requires a legitimate purpose and individual consent, except for specific valid purposes.
Data fiduciaries, responsible for data, must ensure accuracy, security, and data erasure post its intended purpose. The Bill grants individuals rights, such as accessing information, requesting corrections, deletions, and seeking remedies. Government agencies may be exempted under certain circumstances, while the Data Protection Board of India, established by the central government, oversees compliance with the Bill’s provisions.
In the digital age, every app download or online game played involves the sharing of data. Romil Ramgarhia believes, “What may appear as innocuous information holds the power to profile individuals, target ads, and predict behavior and trends. Indeed, data is akin to a goldmine. As we navigate this era of unprecedented connectivity, the need for robust data protection measures is imperative.” The Government of India plays a pivotal role in safeguarding citizens’ data and recognizing data as a valuable asset underscores the importance of proactive governance to preserve the trust and well-being of its people.