India witnessed 18 million cyber-attacks and 200,000 threats a day in the first quarter of 2022, said Google's VP-Engineering for Privacy, Safety and Security.
Speaking at a media briefing during Google’s Safer With Google event on August 25, Royal Hansen said, "In a way it has gotten to a level of activity, where it is not a question of if someone will be attacked, but how they will be prepared.”
Hansen also said that 30 percent of all transactions in India were digital, highest in the world. However, he feels that there's a flip side to it. Going digital doesn't necessarily mean that people are safe, bad guys take advantage of the same tools, Hansen said.
The top executive at Google said this while launching a broad, multi-pronged effort to protect people from online threats through an array of new programs, initiatives, collaborations, and investments in India.
One of the initiatives is a series of multi-city cybersecurity roadshows, to upscale 100,000 startups, developers, IT professions, to build safer apps, in all phases of development. Through this initiative Google also intends to help the public sector including banks.
Recently, there has been a spate of cyber attacks in the country that has led to data breaches and attacks on critical infrastructure.
Taking a note of such attacks, the Indian government in April came out with cybersecurity directions. While these measures were enforced partially, they were not well received in many quarters of the industry.
Responding to a query on such regulations and the way forward, Hansen said, “We've seen countries that assume they can do this in one fell swoop without discussing and sort of building consensus.”
“This, I think, has oftentimes been more challenging for everyone involved. So I would encourage all countries to maintain an open dialogue, because the growth occurs... when you are kind of aiming for something that is dynamic as an ecosystem,” Hansen added.
Speaking about Google's collaboration with India, Hansen said, in many cases we first invest in a product or a feature in India first and then roll it out to the rest of the world because India is such a great example of a growing thriving dynamic online ecosystem. We'll continue to do that in the in the context of cybersecurity, privacy and safety, he added.
Meanwhile, during the second edition of Google’s Safer With Google event held in New Delhi today, the tech giant launched a cybersecurity upskilling program for approximately 100,000 developers, IT, and start-up professionals across the country.
Besides the upskilling program, Google also launched a multilingual user awareness campaign to encourage millions of internet users to adopt better practices for safer digital transactions. The campaign is supported by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Digital India Corporation.
The tech giant also announced first-ever digital safety-focused grants of a total of $2 Million (approx. Rs 16 crore) from Google.org in India, to non profit organisations, that aim to enable high-risk groups such as women, micro entrepreneurs, seniors, and the LGBTQIA+ community to leverage the opportunity of the internet with safety and confidence.
Saikat Mitra, Senior Director & Head of Trust & Safety, Google APAC, “As local threat vectors evolve, our focus is on strengthening our defences against these, through safety enhancements in our products, adapting our policies to prevent misuse of our platforms, and identifying and weeding out threats at the root cause.
“As we go forward, we will continue to double-down on these efforts, joining forces with industry bodies, regulators, civil society organisations, and law enforcement agencies to share our technology, insights, and experience,” he added.