National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) Cyber Security Must Be Strengthened In India

National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) Cyber Security Must Be Strengthened In IndiaJudicial data grids and servers hold sensitive and crucial documents of parties to the dispute. The judicial institution has the dual task of ensuring user friendly website on the one hand and ensuring robust cyber security of the website and data grid on the other hand. The same is applicable to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) of India that is in its infancy stage right now. As on date the NJDG is focusing on providing data and information about pending cases in district courts. But in future, the NJDG would be clubbed with other judicial infrastructure and this would raise serious techno legal challenges before the Indian judiciary and Indian government.

For instance, consider a fully fledged e-courts system in India. When a new dispute would arise, it would be filed electronically. From financial details given for payment of court fees and other fess to filing of document in the court, everything would be managed in a digital manner. This would make these sensitive documents and information vulnerable to cyber attacks and cyber crimes. Not only the sensitive information has to be protected from unauthorised access but even the integrity and authenticity of the stored information and documents has to be ensured. This is not an easy task and would require tremendous techno legal expertise on the part of Indian judiciary and Indian government.

Now consider another example. Courts in India these days allow free wireless Internet access to litigants, lawyers and judges. Such wireless Internet access can provide convenient services to these stakeholders. But this service can also be a cause of concern especially for threats from man in the middle attacks (MITM). Wireless services are not that secure even after use of password and they can be cracked with appropriate software and tools.

It is for these cyber security and data security reasons that Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research and Development of India (CECSRDI) have suggested that a robust cyber security policy of India is needed that can safeguard the interest of all stakeholders. It may take some more time before Indian government would upgrade the cyber security infrastructure of India. Till such time judicial data grids would remain vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks and malware.

Right now even basic level data manipulations and data modification are creating troubles for judicial websites and data grids. In one such example, the software of the Patna high court was manipulated to affect the current proceedings for an economic offence committed in 2012. This is a clear instance of breach of security of the judicial database available online for which the CBI has initiated an investigation. This is an alarming trend in Indian cyber crime where documents are being used to forge and fabricate the copy of the FIR to secure regular bail. A document once modified, can change the entire outcome of a case and bail proceedings. Clearly, the judicial databases and data grids are not cyber secure and there is an urgent requirement to make them secure.

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