US Consulate General Partners With CUTS International To Mitigate Cyber Threats For Northeast's MSMEs

With growing digitalization globally, more and more businesses are gradually shifting to a digital platform to do business.
US Consulate General Partners With CUTS International To Mitigate Cyber Threats For Northeast's MSMEs

Guwahati: The US Consulate General Kolkata has joined hands with CUTS International to mitigate cyber threats for Northeast's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

''With an aim to equip the MSMEs with knowledge and hands-on training on how to identify and combat cybersecurity threats and be more cyber-resilient, the CUTS International in collaboration with US Consulate General organized a day-long workshop in Guwahati,'' CUTS International said in a statement.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Northeast Council, and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) have also partnered with US Consulate General Kolkata and CUTS International.

Representatives from various MSME units in Guwahati participated in the workshop that is a part of the project titled "Cyber Safe East India", implemented across the East and Northeast India.

Melinda Pavek, US Consul General in Kolkata; KK Dwivedi, Principal Secretary, Department of Industries & Commerce, Government of Assam;and Akash Deep, Commissioner and Secretary, Public Health Engineering Department; and Director, Department of Information Technology, Government of Assam attended the inaugural session of the workshop.

During her first visit to Assam, U.S. Consul General Melinda Paveksaid, "This Cybersecurity Awareness Month we recommit to doing our part to secure and protect our internet-connected devices, technology, and networks from cyberthreats at work, home, business, school, and anywhere else we connect online.

''The United States and India are committed to continued partnership on cybersecurity, to include efforts to promote critical infrastructure resilience, collaboration to counter cyber-enabled crime such as ransomware, and cooperation to address shared cyber threats, including through workforce development, and exploring common cyber standards and promoting secure software development," he added.

With growing digitalization globally, more and more businesses are gradually shifting to a digital platform to do business.

Media reports show that, there has been a concomitant rise in cybercrimes. Cyberattacks through Malware, Phishing, Ransomware, etc. have surged.

According to a recent survey by Kaspersky, about 48 percent of MSMEs have had data breaches owing to not properly understanding threats and the importance of cybersecurity in the MSME sector.

The U.S. Consulate Kolkata has thus partnered with CUTS international to help the East and Northeast Indian MSME sector to cope with the growing threat of cyber-crimes for e-businesses since many companies have moved onlineduring the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International, mentioned that adoption of digital technologies has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many MSMEs went online without the required understanding and safeguards to combat cyber-attacks, rendering them vulnerable.

Given that MSMEs make up roughly 30 percent of India's GDP, it is imperative to equip them with the knowledge and tools to become resilient to cybersecurity breaches and grow their businesses sustainably.

Biswajit Chakrabarty, Director, FICCI, Northeast Council, mentioned that while the COVID-19 pandemic has created considerable challenges for MSMEs, it has also created an opportunity for them to expand their business via online platforms.

However, cyber security remains an area of serious concern for the MSMEs.MSME vulnerabilities stem from several factors, such as: lack of understanding of cybersecurity risks; less prioritisation for cyber safety; limited capital allocation to cybersecurity, etc.It is important to bridge these gaps by imparting the required skills and knowledge on how to react when faced with cyber security breaches.

Aditya Kumar Sinha, Director & Centre Head, C-DAC Patnasaid,"There has been drastic increase in cybercrimes due to limited awareness and cyber hygiene. The risk of MSME's increases manyfold seeing their cyber space vulnerability. C-DAC Patna aims to operate as a national resource center to address pressing cybersecurity issues, accelerate the creation, deployment and use of secure, standard-based technologies and solutions."

As next steps, a compendium of goodpractices on cybersecurity will be developed and disseminated widely among the relevant stakeholders, including governments, to help MSMEs safely navigate the cyberspace and mitigate cyber risks in the region.

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Sentinel Assam