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India's tough hacker crackdown: IT security leaflets with every device

Vendors cry foul over packaging problems

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India has reportedly concocted a plan to cut down on IT security problems: forcing hardware vendors to include a security awareness brochure with all desktop PCs, mobile phones and USB modems.

The plans were dreamt up to improve the country’s cyber security preparedness, in response to the increasing volume of online threats facing users, according to the Economic Times.

However, technology execs are apparently lobbying the government to modify its proposals, which were due to be rolled out at the beginning of the year.

Imported goods would cause particular headaches, according to one senior executive, who told the paper that the brochures would either have to be bundled with products at the relevant sea or airport before customs checks or even further back in the manufacturing process, at the time of packaging.

"We have the recipe for nothing short of a nightmare," he added.

USB-based products would apparently generate a slightly different packaging problem in that the hardware is smaller than the brochure.

It's not known if the un-named exec was a PC vendor, but it would be richly ironic if that were the case given crapware such companies load onto PCs. The exec's complaint is also odd given India has 22 official languages and speakers of many are concentrated in certain areas. Bengali, for example, is spoken by 83m Indians in three states (and 160m or so Bangladeshis). As the Bengali-speaking population of India alone is larger than that of many nations, vendors would almost certainly produce products tailored to that language, leaving the argument that bundling logistics are onerous holding little water.

Indian web users are certainly being targeted like never before, as increasing broadband penetration married to an expanding middle class means more are getting online, but often without appreciating the security risks.

A 2012 Symantec report found advanced, targeted attacks rose from 77 per day in 2010 to 82 by the end of 2011, with over half hitting SMBs.

While its plans to raise cyber security awareness are well-meaning, the Indian government is not exactly leading by example when it comes to defending its networks.

Over 100 government web sites were hacked in just three months at the beginning of 2012 and then last month over 10,000 email accounts belonging to top officials were compromised. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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