At a time when the Pegasus snooping controversy is creating ripples across the country, with Oppositions demanding an answer from the Modi government, the Union minister of state for Defence, today informed the Parliament that the government is in the final stages of formulating the National Cyber Security strategy.
It may be noted that the investigation by the media agencies revealed Israeli spyware, ‘Pegasus’, was reportedly being used by an “Indian client” to snoop into phones of politicians, journalists, human rights activists, among other noted Indian citizens. The issue has caused much uproar in the Parliament’s Monsoon Session.
It was reported that this spyware hacks into phones with a ‘zero click’ ability where it can gain control over any device without the user having to do anything to give access to the attacker. This led citizens to question the vulnerability of cyberspace.
In a written reply to a query of the BSP MP, Shyam Singh Yadav, in Lok Sabha today, Ajay Bhatt, Minister of State, Defence, said, “Government of India is formulating the National Cyber Security strategy, which is in the final stages of approval. There have been repeated attempts by various cyber threat actors to target our various sectors. However, measures are being taken to detect and deter these threats, he clarified.”
Without any direct reference to Pegasus, the MoS assured that adequate safeguards have been instituted in the form of cyber audits, physical checks and policy guidelines to ensure a robust cyber posture of armed forces. His reply comes in the wake of queries into the much talked about ‘Defence Cyber Agency’ which will be instrumental in fighting attacks in cyberspace.
He confirmed that the agency is now fully functional to mitigate cyber threats and all the three services (Army, Navy, Air Force) have established their respective Cyber Emergency Response Teams (CERT).
Sources said that it was ironic since the central government till now has not answered opposition queries, categorically on Pegasus and whether the government is a client of Israel spyware company NSO Group. The government has termed it a “non-issue” in the Parliament but on the other hand, it has informed that its National Cyber Security strategy is in the final stages of approval.