NEW DELHI: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has exposed unsecured networks for attackers thus resulting in an increase of cyber criminals, especially for ransom-ware, says digital forensics expert Lt Col (Dr.) Santosh Khadsare (Retd.)
However, a positive outcome of the pandemic, which has dramatically affected work culture around the world, is that everyone has started taking cyber-security seriously, says Khadsare, the Vice President of Digital Forensics & Incident Response (DFIR) at eSec Forte Technologies.
Impact of Pandemic On Cyber Security
“In the last two years during COVID-19, everyone was restricted to their houses and totally reliant on digital technologies but with that came a surge of cyber-related issues,” he said.
Khadsare noted that every organisation has its own networks and is connected to the outside world via the internet – ‘Work from Home (WFH) and ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) were the new normal and are still continuing after the pandemic.
“Remote working has exposed the unsecured networks and attack surface for the attackers thus resulting in an increase of cyber attackers especially in the category of ransomware. Positives are that everyone has started taking cyber-security seriously,” Khadsare, whose firm provides all kinds of tools, services, consulting and capacity building in the niche field of DFIR.
Need For Trained Cyber Security Professionals
He believes this is a “golden phase” for the cyber-security industry globally and especially developing countries such as India.
“This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our capabilities in the cyber domain by providing the world hardware software and skilled manpower which is the need of the hour,” he added.
The cyber security industry is looking for resources to meet the requirements of the every expanding networks and new technologies being developed, he noted.
“The cyber incidents need to be handled in a reactive, proactive and predictive manner and hence there is lot to do for everyone,” said Khadsare, who has been into IT security for more than two decades now with several awards to his credit, too.
India’s Cyber Security Preparedness
The retired Indian Army officer said in the field of cyber security, there are various decisions and mechanisms which are being put in place by the government to secure the country’s cyber space.
He said India’s IT Act also gave birth to Cyber organisations such as National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) and CERT-India. Not to forget other organisations such as NTRO (National Technical Research Organization), DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization), among others, supporting government in having a secure and resilient cyber security structure.
“By appointing a National Cyber Security Coordinator to coordinate all activities of various organisations we have moved a long way forward. Very shortly we will surely have the National Cyber Security Strategy and Personal Data Protection Act,” he added.
On increasing online attacks and if cyber security has become a priority for private companies, he said there is no doubt that cyber security is the “top priority” of every company as it leads to financial as well as reputation loss.
“Cyber-attacks from competitors and adversaries is increasing day by day and so it the sophistication of attacks. Special job roles are been carved for cyber security professionals and everyone is having an incident response team in addition to their IT teams to address cyber security incidents,” he said.
Message For Young Guns
Talking about challenges that young techies and Indian start-ups are facing when it comes to creating indigenous tools or developing make-in-India products, Khadsare said coming on to the right idea is very important if someone is planning to develop an indigenous product.
There are plenty of initiatives being run by the government and industry to incubate start-ups, he noted.
“Challenges in indigenous tool development is the competition of external companies who provide the same products at a cheaper rate and with better features. I think we should be able to match that. Regarding start-ups I feel that sticking on to the vision formulated is very important and failing should not be option,” he said.
Asked if he had a message for young cyber enthusiasts who want to pursue cyber security or forensics or data analysis as a profession, the veteran recalled that not long back when people talked about cyber security and digital forensics there were few takers.
“Cyber security conferences which were held nationwide never stressed or had talks on digital or cyber forensics. But it is good to see today that numerous professionals want to make cyber security or digital forensics has a career option,” he said.
“We have to national-level universities which are spearheading in churning out professionals in the environment. To those who are seeking a career let me tell you that you have chosen the right part just have patience you will surely succeed and achieve your objective,” Khadsare said.
“I would also like to tell you that have a mentor who will always guide you in the specialisation within the cyber domain. Also take part in conferences workshops and discussions happening around you which will help you in gaining deep knowledge and also increasing your network…. Be visible in the cyber domain,” he added.
Know More About Lt Col (Dr.) Santosh Khadsare (Retd.)
Among several awards from various law enforcement agencies and recognitions, Khadsare on Jul 17 2022, received a Doctorate in Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) by Theophany University.
He had completed his engineering in Electronics and Telecommunications from PVG’s College of Engineering, Pune in 1999 and thereafter joined the Indian Army in Corps of Signals.
Eventually, he ventured into DFIR and has over the years completed around 20+ courses related to it. Some of them are CHFI, CEH, RHCSA, IVTA (CMU, Pittsburgh, USA), Advance Cyber Forensic Course (CDAC), Cyber Crime Investigator (CCI), Cyber Crime Intervention Officer (CCIO) and Access Data Certified Professional.
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