India eyes indigenous expertise in cyber security, to fund security start-ups

India is building its first platform for homegrown cyber security companies in its bid to build indigenous expertise in security technologies and help local firms to tap a larger pie of the country's digital security technology budget.

The government and industry have come together to prepare a road map for creating a platform for digital and cyber security products and solution companies. This includes creating a special fund for cyber security start-ups and grooming them to build local solutions to tackle internet security challenges.

At present, India's cyber security market size is about $4 billion, which is expected to grow ninefold to $35 billion by 2025, according to Data Security Council of India.

The move to build local cyber security expertise comes as the country increases focus on Digital India, a campaign mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to use technology in government and offer government-to-citizen services.

The Data Security Council of India (DSCI), part of industry body Nasscom that is spearheading the shift towards local solutions, will collaborate with (Department of Electronics and Information Technology) (Deity) and Technology Development Board (of Department of Science and Technology) for the platform and funds.

In April 2016, an Indian delegation comprising government officials and industry veterans visited London and Hague as well as Israel, which are globally known cyber security clusters, to study the best practices in the space.

“Based on the research, we have come up with a roadmap to build and promote an ecosystem for cyber security products and services companies and build necessary capabilities,” Rama Vedashree, chief executive of DSCI told Business Standard in an interview.

“We are exploring industry academia collaboration, commercialisation of cyber security products and getting global companies to invest in India for cyber security research and development.”

Earlier this year, DSCI brought together about 60-70 cyber security companies to give them a platform to grow.

According to the data collated by Nasscom, there are about 150 such cyber security companies and over 40 per cent of them are incorporated in or after 2010. However, the security landscape in India still remains considerably untouched by the investors. As per the Nasscom data, just 40 per cent of security companies have received funding from global investors.

“Investment in the cyber security space is hard to come by as compared to e-commerce and other B-2-C  (business to consumers) start-ups.  We are working with Deity as well as Technology Development Board  to set up a special fund can be set up for cyber security start-ups.”

The hotspots for such companies could be Telangana, which has come up with the cyber security policy in September that focuses on incubating cyber security start-ups. AP, which is in the process of finalizing its cyber security policy focuses on that as well.

“Telangana’s cyber security policy aims to incubate cyber security start-ups, capability development by training with police  and setting up a centre of excellence for malware research. This is in line with its vision to make the state a preferred destination for global companies,” said Vedashree. “Andhra Pradesh, which is finalising its cyber security policy, is also working along the same lines. We have worked together on the policy with the state to focus on cyber security companies and capability creation in the segment.”

Experts said that India has started taking small steps towards building cyber capability.

“At a national level, India is making steady progress on cyber security awareness and leadership. However, even the United States, which is widely considered ahead of the pack on this issue, is still grappling with major cyber security challenges today. Cyber security isn't won or lost on a national level,” said Bryce Boland, Chief Technology Officer for Asia Pacific at FireEye.”In some ways, cyber attacks are  twenty-first century plagues, and if we are to stay secure, we need widespread immunity and awareness. India is not there yet.  

India, like many other countries, he said, is in dire need of cyber security professionals, but has the talent base to close this gap faster than most countries.

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