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4.5 Cr People's Personal Data. 30,000 Threats a Day. But Andhra's Security Problem is Careless Babus

Gopal Sathe
AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu at the inauguration of the APCSOC.
AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu at the inauguration of the APCSOC.

VIJAYAWADA, Andhra Pradesh — A swarm of red and yellow dots, displaying each one of over 30,000 daily cyberthreats, animate a live heat map projected on a wall-sized display in a nondescript government building that houses the Andhra Pradesh Security Operations Centre (APCSOC) .

Nearly a third of these attacks, those monitoring the display say, come from servers and computers based in India, but the second most significant source is China; a nation that has invested heavily in its cyberwarfare capabilities in recent years.

As state and central government departments across the country rush to digitise, consolidate and merge the vast stores of citizen data collected over decades; bureaucrats are finally waking up the security implications of centralising and networking this sensitive, often personal, information.

Nowhere is this more evident than in AP; a state that sits on one of the most extensive collections of citizen data in India. At last count, AP had digitised the personal records of nearly 44 million residents (33 million of which had been inter-linked and seeded with Aadhaar numbers) as part of the extensive Praja Sadhikara Survey that harvested the personal information of the state's residents.

APCSOC became operational only April this year — years after AP began amassing its stockpile of data — and its role is to oversee the security of this enormous collection data.

"It is not going to be an easy task," said V Premchand, Managing Director Andhra Pradesh Technology Services, which has overview of the whole security setup. "Until now, the concept of cyber security wasn't something that the government departments had to think about, but it is now dawning."

Inside the APCSOC

The APCSOC office is on the third floor of a plain-looking boxy building in the busy neighborhood of Labbipet, in Vijayawada. The new AP secretariat, no longer housed in Hyderabad, sits about half an hour from Vijaywada on the way to nearby Amravati, the upcoming capital...

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