India’s Defence Ministry to ditch Windows for homegrown Ubuntu-based Maya OS

August 10, 2023

India’s Defence Ministry is gearing up for a major change in its cybersecurity system. It is planning to replace Microsoft Windows with its own indigenous operating system called Maya OS in all its internet-connected computers. The move is aimed at enhancing the security and reliability of the country’s defence systems, which have been under constant threat of cyberattacks from foreign actors.

Why Maya OS?

The idea of developing a home-grown operating system was born in 2021, when India faced several cyberattacks that targeted its critical infrastructure and defence systems. These attacks exposed the vulnerabilities of Microsoft Windows, which is widely used by the Defence Ministry. The attackers exploited the loopholes and bugs in Windows to infiltrate the networks and steal or damage sensitive data.

To counter this threat, the Defence Ministry decided to create its own operating system that would be more secure and robust than Windows. It roped in various government agencies, such as the Defence Research and Development Organization, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, and the National Informatics Centre, to develop Maya OS.

What is Maya OS?

Maya OS is based on Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution that uses free and open-source software. Linux is known for its stability and security, as it is less prone to malware and ransomware attacks than Windows. Linux also offers more flexibility and customization options than Windows, allowing the Defence Ministry to tailor Maya OS according to its specific needs.

Maya OS has a similar interface and functionality as Windows, so that the Defence Ministry staff can easily adapt to it. It also has a special feature called Chakravyuh, which is an end-point anti-malware and antivirus software that creates a virtual layer between the user and the internet. Chakravyuh protects the sensitive data from being accessed or tampered by unauthorized parties.

When will Maya OS be rolled out?

Maya OS is currently in its evaluation stage, and it is expected to be rolled out soon. The plan is to install Maya on all computers connected to the internet before August 15, along with the Chakravyuh protection system. The remaining PCs will be migrated to Maya OS by the end of the year.

By using an indigenous operating system, the Defence Ministry hopes to reduce its dependence on foreign software and enhance its cyber resilience. Maya OS could also pave the way for other government departments and sectors to adopt their own operating systems in the future.

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