Sunday 20 March 2011

India Must Develop Cyber War Capabilities

Cyberspace has unveiled many unique challenges that were not known previously in an offline world. Concepts like cyber espionage, cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, etc were not even in contemplation a few years back.

Now these concepts are not only discussed but in many cases practiced as well. Though a clear cut definition and applicability of these concepts is still not accepted universally, yet none can deny the issues of cyber attacks and cyber threats.

Cyber war and cyber terrorism are matters of grave concern to all countries. Equally important are the issue pertaining to cyber security of defense forces in India. These issues are important as they strike at the very root of the critical ICT infrastructure protection in India. While countries like US and Russia are negotiating to limit the impact of cyber wars, India is not doing the needful in this regard. Cyber War Capabilities should be an Integral Part of Indian National Defense and Security says India’s leading Techno-Legal Expert Praveen Dalal.

The military version of cyber war has the potential to be as serious as a nuclear war in terms of creating chaos. It could crash power and water supplies, as well as trashing the global financial systems and information systems. Russia is in favour of an internet disarmament treaty, but the practical aspects are tougher than nukes ever were.

Malware are posing significant threat to India yet there is no attention towards cyber security in India. For instance, we need express provisions and specified procedures to deal with issues like denial of service (DOS), distributed denial of services (DDOS), bot, botnets, trojans, backdoors, viruses and worms, sniffers, SQL injections, buffer overflows etc. Till now India has done nothing in this crucial direction.

India is also suffering from the menaces of cyber war and cyber terrorism. Nobody cares about any these threats in India. Media reports claim that China’s intensified cyber warfare against India is becoming a serious threat to national security. In October 2007, Chinese hackers defaced over 143 Indian websites.

In April 2008, Indian intelligence agencies detected Chinese hackers breaking into the computer network of the Ministry of External Affairs forcing the government to think about devising a new strategy to fortify the system. As a countermeasure, the Indian armed forces are trying to enhance their C4ISR capabilities, so that the country can launch its own cyber offensive if the need arises.

Similarly, Pakistan is taking steps to intensify its cyber war propaganda against India with the help of its intelligence outfit, the ISI by carrying reports of alleged communal fissures taking place on the Indian side of Kashmir. Issues like these have to be resolved as well. India must immediately start working upon the issues like cyber war, cyber terrorism, critical infrastructure protection, etc in the larger national interest and national security.