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At G20 conference, Amit Shah calls for cooperation to tackle cyber threats, flags ransomware attacks, misinformation campaigns with ‘toolkits’ | #ransomware | #cybercrime

Union Home Minister Amit Shah Thursday said cyber threats ranging from ransomware attacks to online harassment to fake news and misinformation campaigns with ‘toolkits’, have a direct impact on national security and asked all the G20 countries to “think and act by rising above the conventional geographic boundaries” to stop them.

Speaking at the inaugural session of ‘G20 Conference on Crime and Security in the Age of NFTs, AI and Metaverse’ in Gurgaon, Shah said there is also a growing tendency to strategically target critical information and financial systems.

Over 900 participants from G20 countries, nine special invitee countries, international bodies and technology leaders, and domain experts from India and worldwide are attending the two-day conference.

“During the six sessions of the two-day conference, there will be a meaningful discussion on the International Cooperation Framework in subjects such as Internet Governance, Security of Digital Public Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Issues related to Digital Ownership, and Responsible use of AI and International Cooperation Framework for Dark Net,” Shah added.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Union Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar and members of ‘Cyber Volunteer Squad’ during the inaugural session of the G20 conference on ‘Crime and Security in the age of NFTs, AI and Metaverse’, in Gurugram, Thursday, July 13, 2023. (PTI Photo/Kamal Singh)

Shah said in the wake of the digital age, cyber security has become an essential aspect of global security that requires adequate attention to its economic and geopolitical implications. “It is essential to strengthen the capabilities of nations and international organisations to deal with new and emerging, traditional and non-traditional challenges, including terrorism, terror financing, radicalisation, narco, narco-terror links, and misinformation in a better way,” he added.

“The transformation of our security challenges from ‘dynamite to metaverse’, and from ‘conversion of hawala to cryptocurrency’ is a matter of concern for the countries of the world, and all of us together have to devise a common strategy against it,” he said.

“Terrorists are finding new ways to perpetrate violence, radicalise youth and raise financial resources and new methods in virtual assets are being used by terrorists for financial transactions. Terrorists are using the dark net to hide their identity and spread radical material,” Shah said.

“We have to understand the pattern of these activities running on the dark net and find solutions. To create a robust and efficient operational system, we need to think coherently to crack down on using various virtual assets,” he added.

Shah also said the metaverse, once a science fiction idea, has now come up into the real world, and it may create new opportunities for terrorist organisations, primarily for propaganda, recruitment and training.

“This will make it easier for terrorist organisations to select and target vulnerable people and prepare material according to their vulnerabilities. The metaverse also creates opportunities for true imitation of a user’s identity, known as deep-fakes, and, by using better biometric information about individuals, criminals will be able to impersonate users and steal their identities,” he added.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses during the inaugural session of the G20 conference on ‘Crime and Security in the age of NFTs, AI and Metaverse’, in Gurugram, Thursday, July 13, 2023. (PTI Photo/Kamal Singh)

“Many countries have become victims of cyber attacks and this threat is hovering over all major economies. The World Bank estimates that cyber attacks could have caused losses of around $5.2 trillion to the world during 2019-2023. The use of cryptocurrency by malicious threat actors further complicates its detection and prevention,” he said.

Shah said 840 million Indians have an online presence, and by 2025 another 400 million Indians will enter the digital world. The possibilities of cyber threats have also increased.

“Technology has transcended all conventional geographical, political and economic boundaries, and today, we live in a big global digital village. Although technology is a positive development in bringing human beings, communities and countries closer. Some anti-social elements and global forces are using technology to cause economic and social harm to citizens and governments. So, this conference becomes all the more important as it can be an important global initiative towards coordinated action to make the digital world safer for all,” he said.

Quoting Interpol’s ‘Global Trend Summary Report’ for the year 2022, Shah said some of the cybercrime trends, such as ransomware, phishing, online scams, online child sexual abuse and hacking, pose serious threats across the globe, and there is a possibility that these cybercrimes will increase manifold in the future.

“In this context, this summit is a new and unique initiative of the G-20 Presidency, and this is the first conference on cyber security in the G-20. The G-20 has focused on digital transformation and data flow from an economic perspective, but now it is very important to understand the aspects of crime and security and find a solution. It is our endeavour to stay ahead in the era of NFTs, AI, metaverse and other emerging technologies by responding in a timely manner to new and emerging threats in a coordinated and cooperative approach,” he added.

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