The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, August 6, 2000

And now cyber rogues

APROPOS of Prashant Bakshi’s write-up "And now cyber rogues", (July 23), the recent attacks of the "Resume" and "I love you" viruses have demonstrated that a single cyber-terrorist armed with nothing more than a personal computer and an internet connection, can hold several countries to ransom simultaneously.

India’s economic infrastructure is vulnerable to cyber attacks since we have not formulated a nationwide information systems security plan, even though our airports, railways, electrical and telecom networks, stock exchanges and banking systems etc. are computerised and networked.

Several technological developments recently have alarmed security agencies. An instructive virus spreads covertly, using minimal system and network resources as it instructs computers to perform certain functions undetected, like stealing particular secrets from specific targets. An instructive virus can instruct computers to shut down vital infrastructure. The "I love you", virus, which caused damages worth $ 10 billion in May, appears to be a rudimentary instructive virus.

Since our intelligence and defence agencies do not possess sufficient expertise in the field, the government should immediately establish a national centre on information systems security. Such a centre should also cater to the banking and financial sectors, stock exchanges, telecom networks, power and water supplies and transportation.



An unequal alliance

Apropos of the thought-provoking piece by Nonika Singh "An unequal alliance" (July 16), despite the emancipation of Indian women, they are still expected to be primarily responsible for household work and raising children. In addition, they are still expected to play a subservient role to the male head of the household. Above all, our society has been patriarchal since ancient times and women are treated, consciously or unconsciously, as property, sometimes valuable often not. How then would it be feasible to have equal alliances in marriage. While on the one hand, we continue to abide by time-honoured traditions, on the other, we are being increasingly exposed to the influences and stresses of the modern age. As a result, we have been trapped between tradition and modernity. There is need to strike a balance between these two extremes.