The Indian government is preparing to build a team of professional hackers who can defend the country's IT infrastructure from external attacks. The special division will also be able to go on the offensive and launch preemptive strikes.
The Economic Times of India reports that plans to create the cyber hacking division were drawn during a meeting between high ranking security officials on July 29. The event was overseen by National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and saw the participation of the director of Intelligence Bureau, as well as senior reps from security agencies, the IT ministry and the telecommunications department. It has been decided that the task of creating the special cyber squad will fall on the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
According to the newspaper, the professionals who will sign up to sit on the new team will be able to hack legally. However, for this to happen some exemptions need to first be introduced to the current legislation governing such actions. Under the Indian IT Act hacking is punishable with up to three years in prison and/or serious fines, regardless if the offense is done on foreign soil.
The initiative to build a small cyber army comes at a time when the Indian government is very concerned about a rise in the number of cyber attacks against its infrastructure. This it particularly worrying, especially since many of those assaults were traced back to Pakistan and China, two countries which India is not very fond of, to put it mildly.
Recruitment is obviously not a real problem from India, which according to various estimations has over 500,000 technical graduates each year. Many foreign companies operating in information security already have big research and development departments in the country, where these graduates can get real-world experience first before become potential recruits for the new cyber division.
India's intentions are not unlike those of other countries, which are also building such cyber squads or already have them. For example, last year the United Kingdom established the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), a team of IT security experts who's role is to monitor UK's cyberspace and defend it from attacks or fight back when necessary.