IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


31st January, 2024 Defence


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In a landmark move, the Indian government is set to bolster its cybersecurity posture with the impending introduction of the National Cybersecurity Reference Framework (NCRF).


  • Developed by the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), the NCRF is a holistic policy crafted to shield critical sectors like banking, telecom, and energy from the escalating threat landscape.
  • This comprehensive framework signals a paradigm shift, emphasizing indigenous cybersecurity solutions and delineating clear roles and responsibilities.

Key Objectives

  • Indigenous Cybersecurity Solutions:
    • The NCRF advocates a strategic shift towards leveraging indigenous cybersecurity products and services.
    • This marks a departure from traditional reliance on foreign technologies, enhancing cyber resilience and ensuring sovereignty in the cybersecurity domain.
  • Clear Articulation of Roles and Responsibilities:
    • A pivotal objective of the NCRF is to establish unambiguous roles and responsibilities in the realm of cybersecurity.
    • Recognizing the need for a cohesive approach, the framework aims to bridge existing gaps in coordination between government and enterprises.
  • Mitigating Cyber Threats:
    • The NCRF responds to the surge in cyber threats by providing a structured approach to counteract attacks.
    • Notably, recent incidents like the AIIMS Delhi attack underscore the critical importance of a robust cybersecurity strategy, especially in safeguarding critical information infrastructure.

Framework Components

  • At its core, the NCRF serves as the principal policy document, offering a blueprint for cybersecurity standards and guidelines.
  • While non-binding, it acts as a guiding framework for entities seeking to fortify their cybersecurity defenses.
  • Complementing the NCRF, three accompanying compendiums delve into global cybersecurity standards, products, and solutions.
  • These resources serve as references for entities aligning themselves with international cybersecurity best practices.

Operational Recommendations

  • The NCRF proposes a significant operational recommendation by suggesting that enterprises allocate at least 10% of their total IT budget exclusively to cybersecurity.
  • Regulatory bodies overseeing critical sectors play a central role, as per the NCRF. It recommends that regulators define specific information security requirements, ensuring effective oversight and meticulous auditing within critical sectors.
  • Acknowledging the evolving landscape, the NCRF encourages the development of platforms and processes for machine-processing of data. This forward-looking approach aims to enhance the analysis of audit compliance and effectiveness, fostering a proactive cybersecurity environment.
  • Embracing a Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) approach, the NCRF recognizes the diversity of organizations and their cybersecurity needs. This nuanced approach ensures that cybersecurity strategies can be tailored to the unique requirements of each entity.

India's Legal and Institutional Framework for Cybersecurity

Legal Foundations:

Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000:

  • Statutory recognition and protection to electronic transactions.
  • Safeguarding electronic data, information, and records.
  • Prevention of unauthorized or unlawful use of computer systems.
  • Identification of punishable offenses such as hacking, denial-of-service attacks, phishing, malware attacks, identity fraud, and electronic theft.

Indian Penal Code (1860):

  • Addresses traditional criminal actions in cyberspace (theft, fraud, forgery, defamation, mischief).

Rules and Regulations:

  • CERT-In Rules (2013):
    • Establishes CERT-In as the administrative agency for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information on cybersecurity incidents.
    • Imposes obligations on intermediaries and service providers to report incidents to CERT-In.
  • SPDI Rules (2011):
    • Mandates companies processing sensitive personal data to implement reasonable security practices.
  • Digital Media Ethics Code Rules (2021):
    • Requires intermediaries to implement security practices, report incidents to CERT-In, and maintain safe harbor protections.
  • Protected System Rules (2018):
    • Imposes specific information security measures on companies with protected systems.
  • Companies (Management and Administration) Rules (2014):
  • Requires companies to secure electronic records and systems from unauthorized access and tampering.
  • Sector-Specific Rules:
  • Issued by regulators like the Reserve Bank of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Department of Telecommunications, Securities Exchange Board of India, National Health Authority, etc.

Institutional Framework:

Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY):

  • Deals with IT, electronics, and internet policy, including cyber laws.
  • Sets up CERT-In as a nodal agency for coordinating cyber incident response.

Ministry of Home Affairs:

  • Manages internal security, including cybersecurity, through a cyber and information security division.
  • Established the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre in 2018.

National Cyber Security Coordinator:

  • Nodal officer for cybersecurity, coordinating with various agencies at the central level.
  • Operates under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).
  • Provides guidance and support to state governments and private industry.
  • Formulates policies for cybersecurity.
  • Offers guidance on internet governance, network management, and response strategies for cyberattacks.

National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC):

  • Nodal agency for CII, operating under the National Security Adviser.
  • Regulates CII, defined as any computer resource with a debilitating impact on national security, economy, public health, or safety if incapacitated or destroyed.
  • Empowers the government to notify protected systems within CII sectors, prescribing cybersecurity obligations.
  • Government organization established in 2014, headquartered in New Delhi.


The impending rollout of the National Cybersecurity Reference Framework marks a watershed moment for India's cybersecurity landscape. By prioritizing indigenous solutions, articulating clear responsibilities, and offering practical recommendations, the NCRF emerges as a dynamic tool in the face of evolving cyber threats.


Q. The intricate interplay of legal provisions, regulatory bodies, and reporting mechanisms reflects India's proactive approach to cybersecurity in an increasingly digital age. Critically Analyse.. (250 Words)