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Cyber warfare - India should be prepared


The country must develop both offensive and defensive capabilities to thwart adversaries
May 30, 2010 17:32
Tags : Cyber warfare |Cyber operations |BSNL |Cyber command |

 Cyber warfare - India should be preparedBrigadier Rumel Dahiya 

Advisor, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

China’s policy is to have Cyber warfare capability, both defensive and offensive. Some of the actions are government-controlled, people are employed to infiltrate into the Cyber and communication network of the adversaries and competitors. It is done at a critical moment, when decision making process, both civil and military, is in its final stage. It is supposed to neutralise or incapacitate the adversary. The infiltration is carried out to know the planning, decision making and also to create confusion by inserting messages or pointers which will put every one in the wrong direction. 

If a mobile SIM card is cloned or a mobile phone is hacked by the terrorists, these guys can disturb the internal security of any country. Let’s say the cloned SIM card belongs to a security agency or a security official involved in VIP movement. With this SIM, one can easily get to know the VIP movement along with the information like which VIP is moving, what is his destination, with how many people he is travelling and what are the security arrangements for the VIP. It can also lead to the compromise of a political decision and if an adversary or enemy of the country already knows the reaction of our government, he can manipulate it either in his favour or can use it to dent the image of our country. In security parlance, it should be understood that minor details complete the picture. Let’s say if Maoists get to know about the movement of security forces who are launching an operation, they can vacate the location and thus waste the complete effort and demoralise the force. If even one issue to be taken up with a foreign dignitary is revealed, it can lead to derailment of a bilateral process of engagement. It is left to the imagination of the perpetrator that to what extent he can cause damage. Every military operation is critically dependent on its secrecy and surprise. If it’s known to the enemy through hacking or cloning, it can decide the course of a war. It is also known that manufacturers place a bug or a chip in equipment they export to other countries. Most countries, while selling advanced weapon systems which can be combat, reconnaissance, missile system, communication systems and the radar, do this. The electronic source coding of the above are denied and they may retain a certain amount of control to know how and where it is being used. Such critical information or codes can also be used to disable the system at a critical time. Talking of a way out, if we have to resolve these problems once and for all, there can be no alternative to indigenisation and self-reliance in systems and particularly in electronic systems. On the issue of China sharing the ‘Key Numbers’ of the SIM cards with our enemy countries or terrorist groups, the idea appears a little far-fetched. It will hugely hamper the economic credibility of the country and will make the world wary to the extent of denting the economy of the country. Hence, nobody would dare to do it so wantonly. 

The consequences of one’s account being hacked are big. Let’s say my computer is hacked. It will reveal my contact list, subjects of mail, thinking, and address list. Also, the information acquired from the account can lead to a chain effect whereby I mean the addresses from my account can be used further as they can also be subjected to hacking or damage. This also applies to cellphones. 

It is a worst-kept secret that between 20000 and 30000 people in China are supposed to be involved in the task of hacking Cyber and communication networks. Also, a large number of people in China are doing it out of curiosity or they feel motivated to hack into other countries network out of a feeling of nationalism. 

This problem is extremely serious. Even the United States has created a Cyber command which is responsible for defensive and offensive Cyber operations because Washington is wary of Chinese advancements in space and missile technology and Beijing’s bid to invade the Cyberspace. It resents more Chinese technological advancements in anti-space weapons, Cyber warfare and long-range anti-ship missile systems because they are the lynchpins of Chinese strategy to deny access to the US. 

Chinese companies like Huawei are selling base stations and other critical infrastructure to our companies. Their reach is to the extent that one of the BSNL tenders was won by it and had to be cancelled. It is a very serious problem. We require recognising the seriousness of the situation and need to involve the private sector to dedicate manpower and resources to attain self-sufficiency. Also, we need to have our offensive capabilities so developed and planned that the enemy does not even dare to even think about harming our communication or Cyber network. We have to do all this without any delay.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017