Editorial 1: Cyberattacks are rising, but there is an ideal patch


  • The past few weeks have highlighted the soft underbelly of our fast expanding digital networks. The first was the ransomware attack on the servers of India’s premium institute, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Nearly 40 million health records were compromised and it took over two weeks for the systems to be brought online.
  • Soon afterwards, a ransomware gang, BlackCat, breached the parent company of Solar Industries Limited, one of the Ministry of Defence’s ammunition and explosives manufacturers, and extracted over 2 Terabyte of data.

Growing vulnerability

  • Ransomwares have emerged as the most predominant of malicious cyberattacks. Here, the perpetrators demand hefty payments for the release of withheld data. Data show that over 75% of Indian organisations have faced such attacks, with each breach costing an average of ₹35 crore of damage. in 2023, cybercrimes are expected to cause damage worth an estimated $8 trillion worldwide.
  • There are other malwares that could infect all kinds of computer systems. With the lines between the physical and digital realms blurring rapidly, every critical infrastructure, from transportation, power and banking systems, would become extremely vulnerable to the assaults from hostile state and non-state actors.
Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is intentionally harmful to a computer, network or server. Types of malware include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware and spyware.Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim’s personal data or permanently block access to it unless a ransom is paid off.
  • In 2022, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), introduced a set of guidelines for organisations to comply with when connected to the digital realm. This included the mandatory obligation to report cyberattack incidents within hours of identifying them, and designating a pointsperson with domain knowledge to interact with CERT-In.
Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN or ICERT) is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of the Government of India. It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing. It strengthens security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain.
  • India’s draft Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill 2022 proposes a penalty of up to ₹500 crore for data breaches. Recently, India’s armed forces created a Defence Cyber Agency (DCyA), capable of offensive and defensive manoeuvres. All Indian States have their own cyber command and control centres.
  • However, most organisations lack the tools to identify cyberattacks. India also faces an acute scarcity of cybersecurity professionals. India is projected to have a total workforce of around 3,00,000 people in this sector in contrast to the 1.2 million people in the United States.
  • With the introduction of 5G and the arrival of quantum computing, the potency of malicious software, and avenues for digital security breaches would only increase. India’s cybersecurity strategy would do well not to overlook these actualities and trends.

Global understanding is essential

  • With most cyberattacks originating from beyond our borders, international cooperation would be critical to keep our digital space secure. It would also be a cause which would find resonance abroad.
  • India has already signed cybersecurity treaties, where the countries include the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, South Korea and the European Union. Even in multinational frameworks such as the Quad and the I2U2 (which India is a member of) there are efforts to enhance cooperation in cyber incident responses, technology collaboration, capacity building, and in the improvement of cyber resilience.
  • Previous years have seen the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) establish two processes on the issues of security in the information and communication technologies (ICT) environment:
  1. Open-ended Working Group (OEWG), comprising the entire UN membership, established through a resolution by Russia.
  2. Resolution by the U.S., on the continuation of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), comprising 25 countries from all the major regions.
  • The two antagonistic permanent members of the UN Security Council, counted among India’s most important strategic partners, differ vastly on many aspects of the Internet, including openness, restrictions on data flow, and digital sovereignty.
  • Yet, based on adoption, member-states have found the two resolutions to be complementary, and not mutually exclusive. Amidst the turbulent current world events, these UN groups would struggle to have effective dialogues.


  • The G-20 summit this year in India, which will see participation by all the major global powers, is an opportunity to move the world towards collective cyber security. India could make an effort to conceptualise a global framework of common minimum acceptance for cybersecurity.

Editorial 2: The significance of the findings in Keeladi


  • Keeladi is a tiny hamlet in the Sivaganga district in south Tamil Nadu. It is located along the Vaigai river, near Madurai. The excavations here from 2015 prove that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age on the banks of the Vaigai river.

How is Keeladi linked to Sangam age?

  • The Sangam age is a period of history in ancient Tamil Nadu which was believed to be from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. The name is derived from the renowned Sangam poets of Madurai from that time.
  • Excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department (TNSDA) has pushed the Sangam age further back. In 2019, a TNSDA report dated the unearthed artefacts from Keeladi to a period between sixth century BCE and first century BCE.
  • One of the six samples collected at a depth of 353 cm, sent for carbon dating in the U.S., dated back to 580 BCE. The findings in the TNSDA report placed Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than the previously believed third century BCE.
  • A recent ASI report by K. Amarnath Ramakrishna, the Superintendent Archaeologist who discovered Keeladi in 2015, has pushed the Sangam age to 800 BCE based on these archaeological findings.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an Indian government agency that is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural historical monuments in the country. It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.

Are there links to Indus Valley?

  • The unearthed Keeladi artefacts have led academics to describe the site as part of the Vaigai Valley Civilisation. The findings have also invited comparisons with the Indus Valley Civilisation while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places.
  • Till now, the gap is filled with Iron Age material in south India, which serve as residual links. However, some of the symbols found in pot sherds of Keeladi bear a close resemblance to Indus Valley signs. A lot of digging and study has to be done to establish the links between these two civilisations.
  • TNSDA affirms that Keeladi has all the characteristics of an urban civilisation, with brick structures, luxury items and proof of internal and external trade. It comes across as an industrious and advanced civilisation and has given evidence of urban life and settlements in Tamil Nadu during the Early Historic Period. Keeladi has also added to the credibility of Sangam Literature.
Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as Harappan Civilisation, was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.Together with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early civilisations of the Near East and South Asia, and of the three, the most widespread. Its sites spanned an area from much of Pakistan, to northeast Afghanistan, and northwestern and western India. The civilisation flourished both in the alluvial plain of the Indus River,

What has been unearthed so far?

  • The unearthing of heaps of pottery suggests the existence of a pottery making industry, mostly made of locally available raw materials. Over 120 potsherds containing Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found. Keeladi, along with other Tamil Nadu sites which have over a thousand inscribed potsherds, clearly suggest the long survival of the script.
  • Spindle whorls, copper needles, terracotta seal, hanging stones of the yarn, terracotta spheres and earthen vessels to hold liquid suggest various stages of a weaving industry. There also existed a dyeing industry and a glass bead industry.
  • Gold ornaments, copper articles, semi-precious stones, shell bangles, ivory bangles and ivory combs reflect the artistic, culturally rich and prosperous lifestyle of the Keeladi people. Agate and carnelian beads suggest import through commercial networks while terracotta and ivory dice, gamesmen and evidence of hopscotch have been unearthed revealing their pastime hobbies.


  • Keeladi findings not only shed light on the Sangma era, but could also provide crucial evidence for understanding the missing links of the Iron Age (12th century BCE to sixth century BCE) to the Early Historic Period (sixth century BCE to fourth century BCE) and subsequent cultural developments.


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