India facing dearth of cryptographers: Ex-DRDO chief

Kolkata, June 29 (IANS) Former DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat on Monday expressed concern at the shortage of experts involved in making and cracking secret codes, as they have a major role to play in bolstering India’s cyber defence.

“The percentage of statisticians who have taken to cryptography and cryptanalysis is still very low and the country needs a larger number of people in this area because this is going to be the buzzword tomorrow,” said Saraswat, who is a member of the NITI Aayog, at the Indian Statistical Institute’s 2015 Workers’ Day celebration to commemorate the 122nd birth anniversary of its founder P.C. Mahalanobis. The day is also celebrated as National Statistics Day.

While cryptography refers to the art of writing secret codes, cyptanalysis is the science of deciphering encrypted communications.

Highlighting the application of statistics in the three aspects of cyber security – cyber crime, cyber terrorism and cyber threat assessment, Saraswat said the threat in these areas has gone up “considerably” since 1994 and with “increasing complexity” owing to advanced cyber threat weapons.

To deal with such advancements, he appealed to scientists to fortify the field of cryptanalysis since this is the discipline which the “country needs most”.

“One area where we have certainly not done very well is cryptanalysis. We are okay as far as cryptography is concerned but when it comes down to cryptanalysis, we find that as a group, we are not able to do as well as others have done.

“When we were doing the complete planning for cyber security, we could put the number of experts available for our country – it was not going beyond two digits. Despite the fact that we have ISI and we have a large number of institutions where people are today working in the area of computer science and statistics but this domain of cryptanalysis has not found favour with large number of them,” he said.

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