Interview with Vinayak Godse, CEO of Data Security Council of India

DSCI helps law enforcement agencies understand, prepare and overcome challenges when it comes to cybercrime investigation.
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Setup by NASSCOM, the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) is a non-profit industry body committed to making India’s cyberspace safe, secure and trusted by establishing best practices, standards and initiatives in cyber security and privacy.

DSCI indulges with the government on various policy formulations, drives cybersecurity innovation and collaborates with multiple stakeholders with the aim to improve the cybersecurity ecosystem in India.

“Cyber security in today’s age and day has become pivotal because the coming decade is going to be driven by technology, and cyber security is one fundamental area which will be driving all of these transitions. As per NASSCOM’s TECHADE 2020: Digital Tech Opportunities report, AI/ML, cloud, and cybersecurity will be crucial and critical for this decade,” Vinayak Godse, chief executive officer at Data Security Council of India, told Analytics India Magazine

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AIM: First, tell us a bit about your journey at the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) so far.

Vinayak: I joined DSCI in 2008. When I got the opportunity, I grabbed hold of it because this was something very different. DSCI is not a commercial company; it’s not delivering or selling any products or services. It’s a cause that drives at a cybersecurity level. 

At DSCI, we are doing quite a lot of interesting work in public policy, national service strategy in building the industry ecosystem, helping the sectors improve their products, preparedness for cybersecurity, working with the secretary leadership and most importantly, driving research and innovation.


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AIM: What do your roles and responsibilities involve as the CEO of DSCI?

Vinayak: We see ourselves as an important catalyst in the National Cybersecurity initiatives, especially in terms of the technology geopolitics that is now hitting up; take the US–China tech war, for example.

Cyber security in today’s age and day has become pivotal because the coming decade is going to be driven by technology, and cyber security is one fundamental area which will be driving all of these transitions. As per NASSCOM’s TECHADE 2020: Digital Tech Opportunities report, AI/ML, cloud, and cybersecurity will be crucial and critical for this decade. 

But, how will that happen? There are many different parts to this. Firstly, security should enable the growth of the industry. We aim to prepare the industry, the society, the individuals and, most importantly, the economy against possible issues and challenges regarding privacy. This is the second part.

With technologies such as AI/ML, Data Analytics, and VR/AR gaining prominence, we will work towards solving the security problem in relation to these emerging technologies.

Further, how we bring responsibility, accountability or ethics with respect to data are some of the areas I will also be looking at.

AIM: What are some of the different projects and initiatives DSCI has undertaken or is working on when it comes to cybersecurity?

Vinayak: One is certainly to help people understand the importance of security and, largely, help them implement security. We have the DSCI security and privacy framework, which is one of the key initiatives we have undertaken.

We work with the government on policy matters on the one hand and, on the other hand, we help them with certain national objectives. We work closely with multiple government departments in framing the policies—we work with the IT ministry, the department of Commerce, department of Telecom and, to some extent, with other ministries which are involved in shaping the policy as well. We also work with NASSCOM and at times independently as well.

Then, the second part is our intervention or our effort to enable the policy rate and to work with the government and other parties to help the industry understand those policy regulations better while also helping them manage compliance better.

We help stakeholders in multiple industries improve their preparedness and, through that process, we also bring the security leadership of the country together.

We are also in partnership with the government in various other aspects; for example, I am running the National Centre of Excellence for cybersecurity technology development. The CoE focuses on research, promotion and startup incubation. We are trying to create an entire ecosystem to develop a market for them, increase adoption, and attract better investments.

Besides that, we are also focusing on the hardware side; with semiconductors now coming into the picture, we are partnering with academic institutions like IIT Kharagpur and IIT Madras.

Lastly, a key thing most of you may not know about is that we work closely with law enforcement agencies. We help them understand, prepare and overcome challenges when it comes to cybercrime investigation. We have set up a Centre for Cybercrime Investigation Training and Research in Bengaluru. It aims to build the capacity of police, prosecution, judiciary and other departments in handling technology investigations and create standard operating procedures (SOPs) in cybercrime investigations.

AIM: What has DSCI been doing to boost cybersecurity innovation in the country?

Vinayak: In the early phase of DSCI between 2008 to 2012, we were looking at it but not focusing our attention to a considerable extent. However, since 2012–13, we started realising that cyber should also provide a sort of opportunity.

So, we started helping the startups in this area, especially product-based startups. We established the National Centre of Excellence for Cybersecurity, which we believe is one of the key actors in developing this innovation ecosystem for cybersecurity in the country.

So, we are not boosting innovation only through incubation and acceleration; we are pushing ourselves to engage closely with the research community in India. We engage with a lot of Tier-1 and Tier-2 universities that are undertaking research in cybersecurity.

Besides, we are also running a very good incubation programme, and because of our membership programme, we were able to create a good market for the startups. We are now increasingly working towards creating an investment ecosystem for these startups.

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Pritam Bordoloi
I have a keen interest in creative writing and artificial intelligence. As a journalist, I deep dive into the world of technology and analyse how it’s restructuring business models and reshaping society.

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