The 2nd ASEAN-India Track 1.5 Dialogue on Cyber Issues held virtually focussed upon cooperation and security in the digital and cyber domain in the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the ‘digitization’ and ‘cyberization’ of engagements – work from Home has become a new norm. There is a greater dependence on digital payment platforms due to reduced cash handling. Presence on social media has also increased.
It was discussed in the meeting that with increased interconnectedness, the dangers related to cybercrime is also on the rise. COVID-19 related frauds, phishing campaigns, and online sale of fake medical supplies and PPEs are on the rise too.

Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry highlighted the dangers involved with cybercrimes. “Increased dependence on digital technologies has created both pressures and opportunities for creative policy solutions and regional collaboration to foster a secure, resilient and equitable cyberspace,” he said. In view of the lurking dangers involved with it, Singh laid stress on the enhanced need to formulate and implement measures for securing cyber domain from the malicious actors.

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He also stressed on the Indian initiative to tackle the situation with flagship Digital India programme – Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Shaksharta Abhiyan (Prime Minister’s Rural Digital Literacy Campaign) and National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 for the next five years.

ASEAN too has come up with its own sets of solutions to curb the cyber crimes, e-ASEAN Framework Agreement, ASEAN Economic Community 2025, and Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC 2025).

Meanwhile, India launched India’s Centres of Excellence in Software Development and Training (CESDTs) in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam to enhance digital cooperation. India is also funding ‘Child Online Risks Awareness Campaign’ and ‘Building Capacity on Digital Public Services Implementation and Cyber Security for Government Agencies’ as Quick Impact Projects in Cambodia in 2020.

The summit was attended by Dato’ Suryodipuro, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to India, Akshay Mathur, Director Observer Research Foundation, Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry, and eminent cyber experts representing governments, think-tanks, academia, and industry from the ASEAN member states and India.

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