The Rise Of Ethical Hackers In Post-Covid World

Demand for skilled ethical hackers has drastically gone up in the post-covid world.

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The Digital India campaign was launched in 2015. But it came into reality only after the lockdown in 2020. While people were forced to stay within their house, working from home, isolated from each other in their personal and professional life; digital medium becomes the only way to order food, book a cab, buy medicines, speak to friends, work from home, connect to clients, get entertained. India was not ready for it. That resulted in Bank fraud, Data breaches, Defaced websites, disruptions in online classes. India desperately needed cybersecurity professionals who can keep the digital world safe. Demand was felt for skilled ethical hackers.

The attack came from inside the country in form of cybercriminals like 'Jamtara Gang' who has created hundreds of well-equipped call centres to organise bank fraud, credit card frauds, phishing, vishing, etc. The attack also came from outside the country across the border in form of state-sponsored high tech terrorism, where the attack was either on PSUs like power grids or an attack on citizens via spy apps which govt had to declare as banned.

The ethical hackers were the most sought-after professionals in the IT industry to test every software that is released, every app that is launched, each network that was designed, each server that holds data. No company dared to launch an e-commerce portal or any app dealing with the monitory transaction, without penetration testing by an ethical hacker or an audit firm.

The ethical hackers got employed at Police Cyber Cells, CID, STF, Sales tax dept, CRPF, Forensic Labs & several law enforcement agencies. Since most of the crimes were a digital crime, the lawyers were observed to take up forensic & ethical hacking lessons, as an essential skill. Cybersecurity centre of excellence has been built in several states, which started a mass level skill development program for govt officials to ensure digital hygiene. One such program 'Cyber Sikhshak (cyber teacher)' by West Bengal Govt IT Ministry COE got the DSCI award in 2020. It equipped 500 junior police officers with first response skills against cybercrime across 186 police stations in West Bengal.

As per Nasscom Survey back in 2015, India needs 1 million cybersecurity professionals overcoming 10 years. The number of skilled cybersecurity professionals is currently around 60-70 thousand. To overcome the deficit, we not only need to open up graduate and postgrad courses in Ethical Hacking & Digital Forensics; but also, the short term fast track courses to upskill the existing workforce. We need to encourage the Gen-X by adding cybersecurity course at the school level while organising online and offline hackathons for different age groups. 

In Kolkata, the Indian School of Anti Hacking has been devotedly working towards achieving the above goals. Over the last 10 years, the anti-hacking school has organised several workshops for school students (especially girls) on cybersecurity do and don’ts. At govt level, the state forensic lab officers were trained, along with officers from CID, CRPF, Sales Tax, etc. Almost all colleges and universities have tied up with ISOAH in imparting cybersecurity skills to their students. Over the last 7 years, ISOAH has organised the largest ethical hacking competitions (hackathons) in Kolkata, encouraging local talents who later found employments in top MNCs.

The need of the hour is for everyone to join hands and develop AI & ML based security tools that are made in India. If we cannot invest enough time and money into cybersecurity R&D; to create our own cybersecurity tools and technology; as a country, India will soon lose supremacy. To become the world superpower of tomorrow, we need to have our own army of ethical hackers who uses our home-grown tools and technology, to defend our country from digital goons & terrorists; as well as from cyber threats coming across the borders. The next world war will be fought with a mouse.

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