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Technology

Indian IT companies step up fight against cyberattacks

TCS, Infosys and others build defense to curb rising pandemic threat

Indian IT companies are citing the increasing intensity of cyberattacks, as well as the need to secure larger areas including remote workplaces amid the pandemic, as reasons for beefing up their countermeasures. (Source photo by Reuters) 

BANGALORE -- India's leading IT services companies are ramping up cybersecurity measures to address the increasing threat of cyberattacks across sectors and regions.

Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies have all started setting up cyber threat management centers mainly in the U.S. and Europe. The largest player TCS had launched 10 centers across the globe that provide cybersecurity services to its enterprise customers by October.

TCS said in a statement that it had opened threat management centers in cities such as Minnesota, Manchester and Madrid, as well as other major Indian cities, in the last four months, with plans to establish "more such centers in other regions."

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a technology research company, cybercrime in 2021 could lead to damages of up to $6 trillion, a sum bigger than the gross domestic product of Japan, the third-largest economy in the world. In October, India's National Cyber Security Coordinator Rajesh Pant revealed that cybercrime in India caused losses of 1.25 trillion rupees ($17 billion) in 2019.

Traditionally, the largest clients of India's IT industry have been global banks, financial services and insurance companies. As for TCS, these sectors have accounted for 32% of revenue for the quarter ended September. Since cybersecurity is critically important for these clients, the IT industry is rushing to enhance its defense capabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the threat of cyberattacks. According to the Acronis Cyber Readiness Report 2020, during the pandemic, 39% of global companies experienced a videoconferencing attack as workers depend on external apps such as Zoom, Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams for remote collaboration.

Indian IT companies are also citing the increasing intensity of cyberattacks as well as the need to secure larger areas including remote workplaces amid the pandemic, as reasons for strengthening their countermeasures.

HCL opened its Cybersecurity Fusion Center in Gothenburg, Sweden, its first in Europe in August. The company said that the rapid shift to remote working for many organizations has led to the emergence of new threats, forcing companies to rewrite their security playbooks.

Vijayashankar Nagarajarao, executive chairman at the Foundation of Data Protection Professionals in India, pointed out that the pandemic has increased hacking opportunities because there is greater use of technology by people who may be new to online services, for example, those who were forced by pandemic-induced lockdowns to use online banking services.

"In industries, work from home has also introduced a new threat, and companies who have not been thinking about security faced the music. So that is a reason why cybercrime has gone up," he said.

Infosys set up a Cyber Defense Center in Indianapolis earlier this year. According to Infosys' cybersecurity report, 83% of executives view cybersecurity as critical, yet 67% are still struggling to have security embedded in their systems.

Experts believe cybersecurity services can be a new growth opportunity for India's $190 billion IT industry. "It is a welcoming move by Indian companies as security services have always been a possibility," Vijayashankar said. "If they have got specialization, it is a value-added service."

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