India, US sign cyber-security cooperation agreement

The CERT-IN (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) and its American counterpart US-CERT are likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for sharing of expertise in artifact analysis (study of traces of virus and worm), network traffic analysis and exchange of information.

Home Minister P Chidambaram and US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Friday “affirmed the importance of increased dialogue and cooperation in the area of cyber security”.

“They (Chidambaram-Napolitano) welcomed the decision of the two governments to negotiate an MoU between CERT-IN and US-CERT, the designated agencies for information exchange. They also decided to cooperate in capacity building and to work together, and with other countries, to advance cyber security standards,” read the joint statement issued after the first round of Homeland Security Dialogue, a critical new component of the US-India Strategic Dialogue to increase communication and information-sharing between the two countries on counterterrorism and other issues.

Security awareness

The CERT-IN functions under Department of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Its primary role is to raise security awareness among India’s cyber community and to provide technical assistance and advice them to recover from computer security incidents. The US-CERT is the operational arm of the National Cyber Security Division at American Government’s Department of Homeland Security.

The US emphasis on strengthening security ties with India for the cyber world is in keeping with the latest cyber-security strategy released by President Barack Obama’s Administration in Washington DC last week.

The US, while making public the strategy, called for global partnerships to set international computer security standards with penalties for countries and organisations that would fall short. Though the US did not single out any countries while releasing the strategy, it seems intended to prod China and Russia to allow more internet freedom, crack down on theft of intellectual property and bring into force more effective laws to protect privacy of computer users.

“To achieve our vision, the US will build an international environment that ensures global networks are open to new innovations, interoperable the world over, secure enough to support people’s work, and reliable enough to earn their trust,” White House cyber-security coordinator Howard Schmidt said during the launch of the strategy on May 17 last.

“We will build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behaviour guide states’ actions, sustain partnerships, and support the rule of law.” The India-US cyber-security cooperation dates back to 2001, when a bilateral Cyber Security Forum was established.

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