Digitisation of Infrastructure and its challenges

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Digitisation of Infrastructure and its challenges

  • Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format.
  • The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document or signal obtained by generating a series of numbers that describe a discrete set of points or samples.

Facts about Digitisation and Digitalisation

  • Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.
  • If digitization is a conversion of data and processes, digitalization is a transformation. More than just making existing data digital, digitalization embraces the ability of digital technology to collect data, establish trends and make better business decisions.

Need of digitisation

  • Data driven decision making - collated data gives better understanding for target specific decision making.
  • Mainstreaming of cloud technologies - cost efficient and accessible to optimize and enhance storage and processing of data.
  • Enhanced user experience - end user experience enhanced using in-depth information and better presentation
  • Real-time monitoring - the progress over a task can be monitored on real time basis
  • Sustainability of process - reduces emissions and cost related to execution, which increases profitability.
  • Accountability and Transparency - the broader monitoring and open system, making information available to all bring significant accountability and transparency.
  • Enhanced efficiency and productivity - efficiency of labor increases with automation which boost individual productivity.
  • Increasing demand to connect Operational technologies(OT) to Information technology(IT) (60% companies in the Indian manufacturing sector were actively increasing investments in digital services and digitization of infrastructure.

IT-OT connect

  • OT infrastructure refers to the core operational equipment of a company. Eg, Oil rigs and exploration equipments of ONGC would make up its OT
  • IT-OT integration refers to the connecting of the OT equipment to the internet, which so far remained disconnected.
  • This is done using sensors and chips which provide companies with data on their functioning.
  • Other examples include connecting power infrastructure (Generation, Distribution and Transmission) to IT systems, Medical & hospital (Reports data, vaccination and equipment) infrastructure to IT system and Defense infrastructure.

Vulnerability to digital infrastructure

  • Gaps in critical infrastructure for cybercriminals to exploit - infrastructure is lacking security system and adequate professionals which opens gaps to exploit, majorly by human lapses.
  • State sponsored cyber attacks - several countries including China, Russia, US are targeting critical infrastructure of enemy countries during times of crisis. Eg. Attack on power infrastructure in Ladakh and Maharashtra in the past 1 year.
  • Social engineering attacks - IT is a wide range of malicious activities that use manipulation to trick users, especially during remote working(phishing attacks).
  • Mobile security threat - Mobile phone is the interface device for end users which use all these technology on his/her device. Security of the device is under threat due to various attacks.
  • Cloud infrastructure security threats - Big storage & processing facility, which houses critical data processing of numerous companies. Damage to one brings a complete halt of system for all.
  • Ransomware attacks - Individual and group attacks using tools and programmes to take away control of databases. Eg, The hackers deployed ransomware in OIL’s IT infrastructure and demanded $ 7.5 million to unlock its servers.
  • A total of 3913 vulnerabilities were reported in critical infrastructure of domestic companies during July-September 2021

Way Forward

  • Digitalisation is the new way of life and incorporation of digital infrastructure has become an existential challenge.
  • India has to rapidly move towards digitalisation and at the same time protection of critical infrastructure is the need of hour.
  • So far India lacks a comprehensive policy to deal with the threats. Formulation of national policy on cybersecurity and a national team of cyber professionals to deal with protection and mitigation of cyber attacks.
  • In the age of the digital economy, data is the new oil or currency of the 21st century.

Exams Takeaway

  • Cyber security
  • IT-OT connect
  • Ransomware

Mains Question

Q. Digitalisation of the economy has given a weapon in hand to the enemy country during the time of crisis. Discuss in detail the consequence of inadequate cyber infrastructure.