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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06NEWDELHI4255
2006-06-16 12:19:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

FOLLOW-UP WITH CERT-IN: COOPERATIVE APPROACH TO

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KCIP  TINT  PINR  IN 
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VZCZCXRO1443
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHNE #4255/01 1671219
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161219Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5414
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2554
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 8880
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0334
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3474
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 4728
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 4687
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 3928
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1231
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3525
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFISS/HQ USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 NEW DELHI 004255 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR PM/PPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCIP TINT PINR IN
SUBJECT: FOLLOW-UP WITH CERT-IN: COOPERATIVE APPROACH TO
ADVOCATING CYBERSECURITY

REF: A. NEW DELHI 1670

B. 04 NEW DELHI 6953

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 NEW DELHI 004255

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR PM/PPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCIP TINT PINR IN
SUBJECT: FOLLOW-UP WITH CERT-IN: COOPERATIVE APPROACH TO
ADVOCATING CYBERSECURITY

REF: A. NEW DELHI 1670

B. 04 NEW DELHI 6953


1. (SBU) Summary: PolOff on June 6 revisited India's
Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) for the third
time, with SciCouns and EconOff accompanying. CERT-In is
pursuing a multi-platform outreach program to cybersecurity
experts in the public, private, and academic sectors.
Although last year phishing attacks were the most prevalent
incident CERT-In handled, web defacement has been a top-level
concern in the Indian cyber-community for several years.
CERT-In Director Dr. Gulshan Rai reiterated throughout the
tour his focus on cooperative or "soft" cybersecurity with
purely domestic Internet entities in commerce, government,
and academia; however, regarding Indian Internet players
whose headquarters are in the US (and who he believes are
insufficiently accommodating to his requests for subscriber
data), he advocates a rules-based or "hard" approach.
CERT-In's training classes are typically full, but they have
no plans to offer distance learning to expand their
educational reach. Rai also described his workforce, and
complained about factors common to the IT industry that force
him to accommodate nearly 100% annual staff turnover. End
Summary.

CERT-In Briefing
--------------


2. (U) CERT-In Operations Director Anil Sagar narrated a
ten-minute PowerPoint briefing of CERT-In operations.
Highlights included:

-- CERT-In focuses on protecting critical data infrastructure
for the defense, financial, energy, transportation, and
telecommunications sectors.

-- CERT-In is working toward ISO/IEC 27001 information
security management standards certification. It has drafted
its informtion security management manual and expects
certification by December 2006.

-- CERT-In currently has no direct enforcement powers; if it
chooses to follow up on computer security infractions
committed by GOI entities, it must report up to the
(Communications and Information Technology or C&IT) Ministry

level. As regards the private sector, CERT-In is only
empowered to issue voluntary cybersecurity guidelines, which
Sagar described as "up to international standards."

Outreach
--------------


3. (U) CERT-In connects with digital India through multiple
vectors:

-- Their web site www.cert-in.org.in generates an average of
460 hits/day from GOI, state governments, industry, and
academia (including foreign institutions). Their web traffic
is approximately 75% domestic and 25% from non-Indian sources.

-- In the past 18 months, they recorded 60,000 downloads of
security guidelines and white papers from the web site. A
large (but not quantified) number of downloads are executed
from academic institutions in India, the US, and the UK.

-- Vulnerability Notes are e-mailed to a list of 550 data
security professionals, including 125 CIOs.

-- Their e-mail contact list (for training and special
events) includes 800 Indian CIOs in critical sectors
(defense, finance, energy, transportation, telecomms) and

NEW DELHI 00004255 002 OF 005


sub-sectors (banking, insurance, fertilizer, oil, power,
etc.).

-- CERT-In is available for contact essentially 24/7 by
phone, fax, and e-mail, though their graveyard shift is
limited to one engineer at present.

Breakdown of Incidents Handled by CERT-In
--------------


4. (U) Sagar continued that of the total number of incidents
CERT-In engineers worked on in 2005, 40% involved phishing
attacks. Of the remainder:

-- 38% were virus/malicious code attacks

-- 16% were network scanning/probing incidents

-- 2% involved system misuse

-- 2% were e-mail spoofing

Web Defacements a Concern
--------------


5. (U) Sagar said that India's on-line community suffers
from a significant amount of web defacements -- hacking to
change the appearance of a corporate or governmend web site
without also attacking back-end functions such as databases,
e-commerce, etc. CERT-In has published two white papers on
web defacement, both available through their web site.
Highlights, including an analysis of data up to December 2004
as well as a simple graph of 2005 incidents, are:

-- Total annual web defacements of Indian sites logged by
CERT-In since 2003 are: 1687 (2003), 1529 (2004), 4705
(2005), 899 (2006, first six months)

-- Almost half of the web defacement complaints CERT-In
received in 2004 were from .co.in domains; .gov.in domains
accounted for one-quarter of defacements, followed by
academia (.ac.in) with one-eighth. India's remaining seven
domains, including .mil.in, shared equally in the remainder
of defacements.

-- Telecomms networks and Internet infrastructure were the
most targeted sites in 2004. The prior white paper noted a
prevalence of defacements in past years against sites related
to the railways and to the Gujarat state government.

-- The 2005 figures were 60% against .com domains and 10%
against .org domains.

Advocating a Soft Approach with Indian Firms ...
-------------- ---


6. (SBU) Asked by EmbOffs several times about how and under
what authority CERT-In can enforce cybersecurity on the
private sector, Rai continually relied on a mantra of "we
seek voluntary compliance." Rather then confront firms and
make enemies, it is better to educate them and convince them
it is in their (financial) interest to follow good
cybersecurity practices, he maintained. Rai said he finds
that that in many cases the private sector (which understands
that breaches of data security translate into costly fixes
and potentially lost clients) is generally more appreciative,
more forward-leaning, and more accommodating than GOI offices.


7. (SBU) Rai also shared that CERT-In receives tip-offs from
industry insiders, whistle-blowers within firms and
departments, and through the media, of companies and agencies

NEW DELHI 00004255 003 OF 005


not adhering to cybersecurity best practices or suffering
attacks. He reported that 60% of the entities CERT-In
follows up with comply with their requests for information;
their second-round requests that include a warning of
possible legal infractions that might require a CBI
investigation generate additional compliance, though he
hastened to add that CERT-In had never referred a case of
non-compliance or an attack to Indian law enforcement. Rai
told us he has lobbied for amendments to the IT Act (2000)
that would grant CERT-In the authority to directly issue
cybersecurity mandates.

Frustrated with Procedural Inefficiency
--------------


8. (SBU) Rai's dander rose as he described his frustration
over not being able to obtain Microsoft Hotmail and Yahoo
personal subscriber data for e-mail accounts CERT-In has
identified as having attacked CERT-In's own servers. He said
that they have logged approximately 25 attacks against the
facility this year, of which 10 were identified as US-origin,
five Indian-origin, and the remainder spread among several
other countries. Rai never singled out Pakistan as the
origin of any attacks on CERT-In or other Indian servers, but
he did note that some cyber-attackers located in one country
hijack servers in another to launch attacks.


9. (SBU) Rai held to his position that the two companies
should share the subscriber information directly with CERT-In
despite EmbOffs' suggestion that the request -- if related to
criminal activity -- could be pursued through law enforcement
channels. "I keep asking the Indian headquarters for
information, and they throw up their hands and say their US
bosses won't let them help," he expounded, nearly choleric.
When EconOff offered that US privacy rights were an important
factor, Rai snapped, "They are criminals, why protect their
privacy?"

Training: SRO, No Plans for Distance Ed
--------------


10. (SBU) CERT-In continues to run 2-day seminars and
workshops, though no more than one training event per month.
Some events, such as a CIO-level seminar that included an
ICAAN executive as a speaker, overcrowd the facility's
24-seat seminar room -- this event yielded a crowd of "around
40, standing room only." Rai said they sometimes replicate
seminars and workshops at IIT/Bangalore, but CERT-In has no
plans to introduce distance learning; the conference room
boasts videoconferencing equipment, but not the classroom,
which is in the next room over. (COMMENT: Although hands-on
workshops, which use CERT-In's networked and pre-loaded
computer workstations, may be impractical for distance
learning, EmbOffs were struck that CERT-In did not offer
seats to over-subscribed seminars through teleconferencing.
End Comment.)

Like IT Industry, Suffering High Turnover
--------------


11. (SBU) Rai and Sagar bemoaned CERT-In's high turnover
rate of approximately 100% per year; Rai explained that
employees' experience and connections are highly sought after
by Delhi's growing private-sector IT industry, and that the
director of Japan's CERT tried to hire away one of his
employees. Rai also took a swipe at "changing cultural
values" (read: Indian IT professionals act like their
American counterparts). Young employees do not feel
emotionally attached to their first job and can be easily
snapped up by a better offer -- there is no social benefit to
staying with one organization for years at a time, he

NEW DELHI 00004255 004 OF 005


complained. Rai also noted that the security of the
government sector is not as attractive as better salaries in
the private sector, especially for IT professionals
possessing portable skills. He added that Indian youth today
willingly trade stability for mobility.

Platform-Driven Work Teams
--------------


12. (SBU) CERT-In staff are organized into work groups based
on the platforms the engineers specialize in (Windows, Linux,
Oracle, etc.). Members of a work group may work any number
of the following tasks within their platform expertise:

-- Real-time or e-mail customer assistance

-- Resource building, including internal training and
accumulating security tools, patches, and network technology

-- Event monitoring/incident handling and drafting/posting
security alerts in response to newly discovered malware

-- Collecting data

-- Drafting/conducting training modules for CERT-In workshops

-- Trend analysis

-- Drafting white papers

-- Reverse-engineering malicious code

-- Conveying information to regional/international CERTs (AP
Cert, CERT-CC) or coordinating/setting up Indian
sector-specific CERTs

24 Hours a Day
--------------


13. (SBU) CERT-In currently employs 22 staff members divided
into two main shifts, with a single person staffing the
graveyard shift. Half the workforce are hired "from the
market," while half are on deputation from other GOI
departments. All have engineering or computer science
degrees, including some MS and PhD holders. Rai told us the
C&IT Ministry approved an increase up to 38 staff members,
which would allow them to stand up a complete third shift.
CERT-In augments its limited R&D manpower by enlisting help
from IIT and IIS computer science departments. CERT-In's
partnerships with Microsoft, Cisco, Computer Associates, and
Red Hat are force multipliers that allow CERT-In to outsource
some projects, and Rai is also pursuing tie-ups with
Symantec, Sun, HP, Juniper, Intel, AMD, McAfee, TrendMicro
and IBM. (COMMENT: Rai easily separated his positive view of
Microsoft regarding its Security Cooperation Program from his
frustration with Microsoft noted in Para 7. End Comment.)

Security: Less Than Meets the Eye?
--------------


14. (SBU) Paying closer attention to CERT-In's security
apparatus than in prior visits, we noticed several apparent
lapses/inconsistencies:

-- We noticed biometric fingerprint-readers at six-eight
doorways; in approximately half the cases, the doors had been
propped open. Only when Sagar entered the NOC was a
fingerprint read required.

-- The large number of CCTV cameras, badge-readers, and
bio-metric sensors appear to be a security overkill --

NEW DELHI 00004255 005 OF 005


perhaps more for show than for security -- considering that
the physical space CERT-In occupies could not easily
accommodate more than 40-50 per shift, plus up to 25
visitors/seminar attendees.

-- The X-Ray machine in the foyer still appears unused (Ref
A).

Cybersecurity Audits Fell by the Wayside
--------------


15. (SBU) To PolOff's question on whether the RBI ever
mandated cybersecurity audits (Ref B), Rai said that the
mandate had never materialized. Instead, CERT-In offers
voluntary cybersecurity audits to the private sector,
performed by their staff engineers.

Breakdown of Hardware
--------------


16. (SBU) Further to Ref B, CERT-In's Network Operations
Center (NOC) employs 10 Sun servers (two each labeled
"Firewall" and "e-mail," six labeled "Web." The remainder of
their servers are IBM.


17. (U) Visit New Delhi's Classified Website:
(http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/sa/newdelhi/)
MULFORD