Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made a pitch for information sharing and coordination among nations to fight the threat of digital space becoming a "playground" of terrorism and radicalisation, saying a fine balance can be struck between privacy and national security.
The quest for an open and accessible Internet, he said, often leads to vulnerabilities like cyber attacks, and a major focus area should be training of well-equipped professionals to counter cyber threats.
Addressing the Global Conference on Cyber Space here, he said Internet, by nature, is inclusive, but the quest for an open and accessible Internet often leads to vulnerability like cyber attacks.
"Stories of hacking and defacement of websites are the tip of an iceberg. They suggest that cyber attacks are a significant threat, especially in the democratic world.
"We need to ensure that vulnerable sections of our society do not fall prey to the evil designs of cyber criminals. Alertness towards cyber security concerns should become a way of life," the Prime Minister cautioned.
Global cyber attacks in May-June this year infected more than 3,00,000 computers, disrupting work at banks and multinational firms and shutting down port operations.
Stating that 'hacking' may have acquired an exciting, even if dubious, overtone, he said cyber warriors need to be trained and well-equipped to take on cyber threats.
"We need to ensure that cyber protection becomes an attractive and viable career option for the youth," Modi suggested.
The Prime Minister put the onus on countries to take responsibility to ensure the digital space does not become a playground for "the dark forces of terrorism and radicalisation".
"Information sharing and coordination among security agencies is essential to counter the ever-changing threat landscape," he said. "Surely, we can walk the fine balance between privacy and openness on the one hand and national security on the other."
The differences between global and open systems, and nation-specific legal requirements can be overcome, he stressed.
According to Modi, while emerging digital technologies could impact the future, important questions of transparency, privacy, trust and security may need to be addressed.
Modi further said his government has used the trinity of bank accounts, mobile phones and biometric identification number Aadhaar to better target subsidies and prevented leakages of nearly USD 10 billion so far.
Digital technology has become a great facilitator, giving farmers access to expert advice and good price, enabled small entrepreneurs to supply goods to the government, removed the requirement of pensioners to present themselves before the bank officer and given women jobs, he said.
"We shall be happy to share our experiences and success stories with the global community," Modi added, inviting the global community to invest in Indian startups.
He went on to say cyberspace has transformed the world over the last few decades and digital technology today has emerged as a great enabler.
"It has paved the way for efficient service delivery and governance. It is improving access, in domains from education to health. And it is helping shape the future of business and economy," the Prime Minister emphasised. "Technology breaks barriers."
He made the point that digital technology provides the less-privileged sections of society a more level-playing field and on a macro-scale has contributed to emergence of a flat world, where a developing nation like India can compete on a level footing with developed nations.
Modi termed the government's 'Digital India' initiative as the world's largest, technology-led transformative programme.