Pioneering e-governance state
Andhra Pradesh (AP) is one of the first Indian States to
deploy Information Technology in various government initiatives. Dominic
K reports on the State that not only paved the way for a better administration
but also brought affordable services closer to it's citizens.
When it comes to e-governance initiatives in India, Andhra
Pradesh is one of those first few States to strike our minds. With its efforts
dated almost eight to nine years back, the state embarked upon e-governance
journey early on. It became one of the pioneers in offering affordable and easy
to use citizen centric services with the cost efficient use of Information Technology.
Mega to Giga
Within the scheme of such IT driven activities, AP Secretariat became the seat
of action for all the e-governance related activity. AP Secretariat was entrusted
the responsibility of not only spearheading the e-governance projects but also
keeping a very tight vigil on the health of its huge, distributed and complex
IT infrastructure. AP secretariat was made the custodian of a large and complex
IT networks, which not only connects the secretariat offices but also provides
connectivity to its various departments, offices and districts across the state.
These departments are not housed in the Secretariat, but spread across the length
and breadth of the state in its 23 districts through the existing 2 Mbps network.
This is currently being upgraded to 10 Gbps network and limited to various districts.
1 Gig network to the 1,125 Mandals and a 100 MBPS network to the villages under
the AP Broadband Scheme. If that doesnt sound complex theres more
to add to it. About two thousand people work on just the IT driven projects
thus making it even more difficult for the Secretariat to manage this behemoth
At a time we have several IT driven e-governance projects running in this
State. These workflow applications ride the IT infrastructure of the State and
it is very complex to run it, says Lt. Col. C S Rao, Joint Director, IT
& Communications Department, AP Secretariat, Andhra Pradesh Government.
Deployed software from CA includes:
The central database of AP Secretariat has over 63,000 scanned files, 1,74,000
e-files and 5,67,000 currents residing in it. These files are large and are
often accessed by the users.
Problem starts when the majority of these 2,000 odd people start accessing
these databases at the same time. Under such circumstances the management and
monitoring of the network becomes difficult to manage, informs Col Rao.
The complexity is doubled when the network is not just confined to the eight
buildings housing the AP Secretariat in one premise but spreads wide across
the State in its twenty-three districts. The IT infrastructure connects the
secretariat in a mesh based architecture over optical fibre backbone which further
added to management and monitoring problems.
Information Security Concerns
The sheer size of the organisation made it most vulnerable for the virus, spam
and trojan attacks. Many an intrusion attempts were earlier made on the organisation.
Network and information security was a greater challenge for us. We were
not in a position where any security breach could go uninformed, says
Lt. Col C S Rao, Joint Director, IT & C Department, AP Secretariat, Andhra
AP Secretariat, says Col.Rao, didnt have a proper security
architecture due to which it faced many security threats of a diverse nature.
The organisation was faced with some peculiar intrusions including the denial
of service (DoS) attacks, trojans etc. Secondly, spyware and spam was
so widespread in the organization that it created a hurdle in the work and mostly
the security of e-mails was compromised.
In such a complex environment the organisation required a complete information
security architecture. The architecture need to be further complemented with
proper tools and solutions to keep itself away from any threat both at the network
level and at the host level.
- Ease of use and fast customisation
- Well documented presentation of products and services
- CA's experience with complex organisation
- Understanding the business and technical needs of organisation like
- Better customer support
- Cost effective and technically superior products
Key Benefits of eTrust
- Centralised alert or event management
- Mitigating the risk of virus attacks
- Preventing proxy users from using unproductive
- No bulk downloads
- Protection from viruses
Key Business Processes
- Custodian of 50 critical e-governance projects running across the
- Seat of power for the entire State machinery and its 30 odd departments
- 2,700 Desktops
- 42 Critical and Non Critical Servers housing workflow and other critical
- Gigabit backbone
- Internet on a 10 Mbps dedicated pipe.
The Secretariat then thought of a comprehensive three-month audit of select
IT infrastructure for key departments in the State Secretariat, two state government
bodies namely the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services (APTS) and Directorate
of Treasury and Accounts and a District Collectorate.
It was imperative to secure the network and the applications running on
it which enable secure and reliable transactions. The security audit was to
make sure that Andhra Pradesh Govts IT infrastructure remains secured
and any gaps in the security mechanism are accordingly kept at bay, shares
Once a virus attack is detected, everything comes to a standstill. Until the
entire thing is cleaned up, work doesnt move further. When there
was an intrusion at network or host level, it took a long time to cure. There
were some inherent vulnerabilities like Web defacements, stealing of information
etc, explains Col Rao.
AP Secretariat then deployed both Network IDS and Host IDS known as Access Control
from CAs eTrust suite of products. Which includes the eTrust SCM and firewalls.
These security tools are deployed not only within the Secretariat but also in
a departments called Directorate of Treasury and Accounts.
The Content Manager offers content filtering mechanism on the SMTP, HTTP and
FTP fronts. It has protected the organisation from being infected with virus
attacks and spam to some extent. The browsing of the non-productive Websites
has almost stopped now in the AP Secretariat. Deploying the SCM has enhanced
spam filtering and also offers added protection from unwanted and unsolicited
The Road Ahead
The AP Secretariat feels that a lot of information security
related advisory shall come from the product companies like CA who have the
expertise in both vulnerabilities assessment and new technologies. Further the
Secretariat is also migrating servers to blades. Migration is also under way
from NAS to SAN. Talks are also underway for a state database at Hyderabad along
with a DR set-up at Tirupati or Vizag. The project is expected to be completed
within a year and is funded by the Government of India (GoI).