We have been hearing this saying often, of late that future wars will be fought in the cyberspace. This is something which is becoming more and more imminent due to the ever-increasing online presence of individuals around the world.
This can also be attributed to the fact that almost every developed and developing country’s governments and their citizens are trying to go online and become digitally more connected, thereby making a cyber-attack more convenient and more rewarding at the same time. This is so because an attack on a country’s digital infrastructure is a significant advantage.
India too has been involved in cyber warfare both on the offensive (a private group in retaliation to Pakistan’s attack on Indian cyberspace) and defensive front, though on a smaller scale when compared to countries in the west and China. We tend to exaggerate our small little successes ignoring the fact that this is one area where we have a mountain to climb.
So let’s bust some common Myths”
1. Cyber Warfare = Hacking
NO! Cyber warfare is NOT JUST hacking, it is far more multifaceted and wider than that. It also includes espionage, sabotage, disruption of communication systems, financial systems among others. What worsens the situation is that cyber-attacks are generally anonymous and borderless, which makes it tougher to be brought under any single country’s law, though many countries have their own domestic cyber laws.
The only way the issue of cyber warfare can be tackled to an extent is with countries coming together and signing multi-lateral treaties to tackle this challenge, but with the ever-changing dynamics of technology, there is no way to ensure the safety of computer networks.
2. Countries do not invest heavily in Cyber Warfare
Well for starters, China has one of the strongest existing cyber warfare unit.
They are known to have breached and infiltrated into several country’s cyberspace and compromised the target’s classified materials thereby sending many countries into a tizzy. This is something worthy to note, as China strongly feels that possessing information of an enemy country is one of the most important preconditions for winning a war.
There have been disturbing reports that China has invested heavily in offensive and defensive cyber weaponry, especially in supercomputers and software. This should ring an alarm bell to security agencies around the world and India in particular considering our not-exactly-good relationships with the Chinese.
3. Social Media is relatively safe
A disturbing research done a few years back found that 90 percent of the organized terrorism acts committed through internet is done via social media. This includes using social media for recruiting and spreading messages to their followers among others.
4. India doesn’t have an imminent threat of Cyber Warfare
India has been experiencing terror attacks for a very long time, and with terrorists becoming tech savvy of late, India is facing the immediate brunt of it.
A NIA probe showed that the IM cadre are becoming tech savvy and using complex codes to chat. Also add to it the fact that terrorists operating out of Pakistan communicate with their counterparts in India and the South Asia region through a high-end command centre.
Considering all this, it is high time India readies itself for the future.
Not by just delegating the task to agencies like NTRO or CERT, but also giving them better funding and developing the required infrastructure. India needs to raise resources to meet the standards of every changing dynamics and recruit professionals and train personnel’s in both the public and the private sectors to handle situations in times of crisis and tackle the challenges ahead, and not strangle them with policies of old.
The Government should not just promote digital footprint, but also make the citizens aware of the basic security necessary for their cyber protection. Most importantly, India should not just stick to having cyber organizations’ for facing challenges of a cyber-attack, but also raise a cyber-Army so that we are ready to face new non-conventional threats and be on the offense in cyber warfare.