NEW DELHI: With the government steadily pushing the economy to go more cashless and adopt a variety of online transactions through a plethora of mobile and internet solutions, the security implications of transacting online have begun to be raised.
On Friday, the government moved to make sure that security is beefed up in the online ecosystem by instructing digital payment service providers and e-commerce majors to enhance their cyber security systems.
According to sources in the Home Ministry, instructions have gone out to companies in the online payments ecosystem to “beef” up their security to prevent virtual attacks from hackers. The instructions come in the wake of a huge surge in digital payments post the demonetisation drive begun on November 8.
According to reports from digital payments firms, transactions on their platforms have shot up by several times during the weeks after November 8 and experts say that now that going cashless, or toward “less cash” in the words of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has become an official policy, cyber security takes all the more precedence.
In an earlier interview, agricultural and rural economist Vijay Sardana had pointed out that the security aspect of such transactions pose one of the most difficult hurdles to a cashless economy.
“We do not have strong cyber security systems in place and there is no legal framework of liability in case of online fraud. Unless this is addressed, it will be very hard to build trust in such transactional systems,” he pointed out.
Sources in the Home Ministry also point out that with the digital payments drive, threats in the cyber world can no longer be ignored. Many companies, said officials, were still vulnerable to threats emanating from the virtual world.
Meanwhile, the government’s enhanced attention to cyber security was indicated by Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta, who had recently red-flagged the vulnerability of banking industry which has rapidly gone digital over the years. In the recent past, he had said, several high profile attacks have taken place on the banks, “this is a worrying trend”.
One of the largest such lapses happened a few months ago when data of nearly 3.2 million credit and debit cards belonging to several banks were leaked.
“Cyber security issues are now top of the national security agenda and such issues are given more importance than even the nuclear issues that used to top the international security agenda,” Gupta had said.