State to set up cyber varsity

It will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space attacks, internet crimes

The Maharashtra Government has taken the first step towards setting up a varsity dedicated to mitigating cyber threats. It has set aside ₹80 crore for the first round of its funding and the proposal for the project will be tabled in the State cabinet’s consideration in the first week of October, sources said.

The new Cyber University will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space cyber attacks, internet crimes, and conduct cyber forensics. It will also impart training in 15 other Internet of Things (IoT) areas such as Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

A team of senior government officials recently visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), which monitors cyber attacks in real time, to acquire technical knowhow. CSAIL’s latest system correctly predicts about 85% of the world’s cyber attacks using machine learning and AI. “At the lab we saw in real time that the majority of the world’s cyber attacks are directed towards Russia, Japan and India,” an official said.

Cost of courses

The varsity, officials said, will provide for and prepare internet professionals on the lines of the Microsoft Certified Professional Program. The courses will cost less than ₹5 lakh for courses in data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, cyber forensics and cyber investigations.

Skill gap

“The current supply of cyber professionals in the country is about a lakh while the demand hovers around 30 lakh. A cyber attack is taking place every 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes previously. The varsity will remedy this,” an official said.

The government will provide different levels of training and enable affiliated colleges to impart certification for the 15 courses. The State will also supply infrastructure for training and education. A 2015 skill gap analysis for Maharashtra by the consultancy firm KPMG had pointed to a gap of 1.5 crore professionals in 10 sectors. “Of these, there was a greater shortfall in the IoT and Cyber Forensics sectors. The new varsity will bridge this skill gap,” the official said.

Maharashtra is already in the process of setting up its version of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to ward off external cyber threats. In 2016, the State had even appointed a consortium of M/s C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and Railtel Corporation of India for the ₹838-crore project. The consortium in its analysis used the same technology as GARUDA, India’s national grid computing initiative, and the Graphics and Intelligence Based Script Technology, officials said.

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