Due to starting off on a low base, the country is actually more cyber aware than ever despite recession fears
Economic uncertainty and fears of a recession have already prompted global technology majors to reduce their headcount. Cybersecurity firms have also joined the race. In the past year dozens of cybersecurity firms across the US and Europe had terminated staffers.
In India, several cybersecurity startups were also included in the list. Despite such moves, industry insiders feel that the cybersecurity industry is adjusting to the new demand environment, and information security continues to be the top technology spend for companies.
Said Harshil Doshi, Country Director (India), Securonix: “We saw very rapid growth in 2022. This year will be a year of normal growth in which we may grow by around 50–60%. So, in some years, there will be hypergrowth and normal growth in others. But by the time you see some saturation, there will be a technology refresh cycle that kicks in. That cycle will keep on happening. So, it remains a growth story.”
Worsening threat landscape
During the height of the pandemic, cybersecurity hit a record high, mostly due to rushed digitalization and increased exposure to remote-working risks.
This was no exception in India: over 12.67 lakh cybersecurity incidents were reported and tracked by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team up until November 2022. In 2021, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation found out that India was among the top five countries with the highest cybercrime rate. Against this backdrop, 2022 saw one of the biggest cyberattacks in India wherein one of its most established healthcare institutions, All India Institute Of Medical Science, was hit by a massive ransomware attack. As a result, the hospital’s server had to be down for about two weeks, leaving patients hapless. Recently, India’s Parliament was informed that around 50 government websites had been hacked, and there were eight data breaches between 2022 and 2023.
This year, despite slowdown fears, industry experts feel that businesses will continue to spend on building a robust cybersecurity framework. Said Pareekh Jain, Founder, Pareekh Consulting: “With slowdown fears looming, spending on cybersecurity is likely to fall. But if you think about the increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, businesses across the world will be forced to spend on securing their systems. All-in-all, the hyper-growth phase may come to an end but growth will continue because that is now considered as the cost of doing business.”
Spend slowly picking up in India
In the case of India, enterprises have traditionally been laggards in adopting cybersecurity solutions when compared to their global counterparts. However, things are changing for the better of late.
PwC has shown data showing that 65% of the business executives surveyed felts cybercriminals would significantly affect their organization in 2023 compared to the previous year, and over 82% of respondents in India forecast an increase in cybersecurity budget this year.
Nevertheless, the country’s major digital stacks such as the UPI, ONDC, CoWin, Aadhaar, and others have remained relatively safe so far.
Moreover, this year’s Union Budget has allocated Rs 625 crores to improve the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure, out of which Rs 400 crores have been allocated to cybersecurity projects and Rs 225 crores towards the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team. Also, cyber awareness within both the government and private organizations is improving. As India faces heavy cybersecurity threats, it is imperative that preparedness should remain at the highest level, industry experts reiterate.