New security panel to identify trusted telecom gear sources

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 16, 2020

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of elecommunications and IT.   -  BusinessLine

Cabinet decision seen as a move to restrict Chinese vendors and blunt cyber attacks

16The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of a ‘National Security Committee on Telecom’ that will list ‘trusted and non-trusted’ equipment/devices by vendors, to be used by telecom service providers (TSPs).

Although the government did not specify any country or region, indications are that this is to restrict Chinese vendors from participating in the country's telecom operations.

Recently, the government had banned 200 Chinese mobile apps and also restricted participation of Huawei in 5G trials because of the skirmish between the two countries at the border.

Growing cyberattacks

According to a government note, India is amongst the top three countries facing cyber-attacks and in 2019, four lakh cyber incidents were handled by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team CERT-In.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) had also recently told Parliament that till August 2020, Indian citizens, government and business entities faced almost seven lakh cyber-attacks. A sum of ₹1.24- lakh crore was lost due to cyber-crime last year.

And, with the increasing use of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, the risk will increase manifold as well with the advent of 5G technologies in telecom networks.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the supply chain security, the government will declare a list of trusted sources, trusted products for the benefit of telecom service providers,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Telecommunications and IT, said at a briefing post the Cabinet meeting.

The Committee will consist of members from relevant Departments/Ministries and will have two members from the industry, and an independent expert, Prasad said. A a list of designated sources from whom no procurement can be done may also be created. The present directive does not envisage the mandatory replacement of the existing equipment already inducted in the networks of TSPs.

The DoT will notify/modify its guidelines and ensure monitoring of compliance by TSPs. The Committee will create a portal for easy upload of applications by TSPs and equipment vendors.


Published on December 16, 2020

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