The government has done well to ban the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Islamic State. The intelligence authorities had made such a suggestion, perhaps, because they knew the dangers of its appeal to some young Indians. The return of a Mumbai youth, who underwent military training imparted by the IS, and the arrest of a techie in Bangalore, who had been using Twitter as a propaganda tool for the IS, must have prompted the Centre to take the decision. The police have charged the two with waging a war against India’s Asiatic ally and for aiding a terrorist outfit. Yes, that is it, the IS is nothing but a terrorist outfit, though it calls itself a Caliphate.
Banning the IS is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. India has to join hands with all leading democratic nations to deal with cyber terrorism, the kind the IS specialises in. Activating the Indo-US Joint Working Group (JWG) on cyber crime to dismantle the virtual command centres of terrorist networks across social media is one of the first steps in this direction. Because of India’s large pool of information technology specialists and the growing spread of the Internet, it may appear well-equipped to fight cyber terrorism. Unfortunately, the ground situation is not as rosy as it may appear. In fact, there is an acute shortage of skilled cyber security professionals.
The national cyber security policy finalised in 2013 envisages having 50,000 high-skilled security experts and stricter surveillance systems by 2018. However, implementation of the policy has been tardy. Take the case of India’s cyber security budget for 2013-14, which stood at a paltry $7.76 million. The government needs to earmark more money as India has to address the need for capacity building in police, legal and technical fields to take on misuse of the Internet as a tool for global terror. As organisations like the IS use young men who do not arouse suspicion like the techie in Bangalore, counter-cyber terrorism, too, needs to be more sophisticated.