GST LLP - How safe is your data on the GST Network?

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How safe is your data on the GST Network?

India ranks on the 23rd position among 165 countries on the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), released by International Telecommunication Union (ITU)—telecommunications agency of United Nations (UN). The organization says greater effort is needed in this critical area. The GCI measures factors such as key areas of organizational, technical and legal, and international cooperation. Additionally, India’s biggest data breach was reported recently in which data of 100 million customers was compromised. Leaked information included customer details, like names, dates of activation, mobile phone numbers, emails, etc. At times, the Aadhaar or Unique Identification Number was leaked.

The phenomenon is not only limited to one company. There have been reports of personal details getting disclosed and published online. The developments have given way to calls for adoption and installation of laws to protect citizens. As India adopts digitalization, the government has to wake up to the duty of protecting citizens. Initiatives like demonetization and GST will fall flat if there is no robust data security system.

Sensitive details of financial and legal nature are loaded on the GST Network besides personal details. India has 50 million SMEs and 3100 startups. GSTN is expected to produce 5 billion invoices in a month. The data seems to be at risk if we look at the level of data security in India. Data crash, hacking, and cyber-crime are all possibilities. The system needs stability and backup.

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Data security is important for everyone, particularly businesses and enterprises. Leakage of data could lead to harm. For example, if invoicing detail is disclosed, outcome can be bad for an enterprise, since invoice includes item cost. If a competitor knows it, it can be a setback for businesses.

Companies in the European Union (EU) have stringent data protection standards. In comparison, Indian organizations do not follow the same standards and practices. This raises questions about accountability as well as security. Looking at the current state of affairs, there is little reason to believe sensitive information would not get leaked. Regular reports of data breaches from private bodies as well as the government are not reassuring in the least. Departments and ministries have often been found to be lackadaisical and apathetic as far as data security is concerned. This has resulted in leakage of names, numbers, addresses, bank account numbers and details, etc.

Though the Indian government is pushing digital governance and cashless economy, there is little assurance on account of data protection. Protection of official, private and classified data has to be of paramount importance for an establishment. The government has to consider digital risks as high-priority and effective steps must be taken to restore the people’s faith in our systems. Image of Digital India receives a setback when the common man is inundated with reports of data breaches, debit card forgeries and cyber-attacks.