BIMSTEC countries decide to fight cyber-attacks | #malware | #ransomware

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New Delhi: Realising that cyber warfare is the new frontier, the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, are working towards a CERT or Computer Emergency Response Team by 2025.

Speaking to TIMES NOW, Lieutenant General Rajesh Pant (Retd.), a senior official at the National Security Council said a CERT is likely to be ready by 2025. The first meeting between cyber specialists of all BIMSTEC has begun and cooperation between various countries is imperative. “The criminals have got together. They have a list of companies and among them, which has insurance and which does not… There was a cyber bank heist in Bangladesh and $80 million was pulled out. We see similar footprints elsewhere too. Now that the criminals have got together, we have to get together.”

The BIMSTEC countries have decided on a 5- year action plan. They are deciding on points of contact (who to interact with in other countries when necessary) and this is to lead to the creation of a BIMSTEC cyber cell in every member country. The cells will be able to share information and cooperate in the case of a virulent cyber-attack. A provision for the automatic sharing of information between member countries is also being looked at.

The BIMSTEC CERT is one answer (there is already an Asia-Pacific CERT), but apart from that capacity building or the ability to handle accidents by having tabletop exercises are being planned. In these exercises, for instance, there could be a mock ransomware attack or a ‘business email compromise.’

Speaking about security threats, he said attackers are now more sophisticated and sometimes, 40 percent of the attacks could be coming from the United States of America as the last IP address is from there. “Every country has adversaries and we can expect cyber-attacks in this age of hybrid warfare. We have an idea of who the originators are.”

The attackers, whether they are supported by nation states or terrorists or the mafia are using countries with strict privacy laws, making it even more difficult to trace them. The BIMSTEC cyber experts will begin work once the National Security Advisors clear the plan at their next meeting. “We will support a United Nations solution when it happens. But regional groupings like BIMSTEC can be very effective in tackling cyber problems,” Lieutenant General Pant (Retd.) added.

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