Cyber Warfare and looming threat of virtual terrorism | The Financial Express

Cyber warfare and looming threat of virtual terrorism

The National Cyber Security Strategy is well on its way to being implemented and is expected to transform national cyberspace completely.

Cyber warfare and looming threat of virtual terrorism
Cyber security

By Khushhal Kaushik 

The growing impact of global computing technology, coupled with increased network penetration across sectors, regions, and applications, has ushered in a crisis that threatens to wreak havoc if not addressed on time. Cyber-attacks are a reality today, and countries, businesses, and individuals can no longer ignore the looming threat of cyber warfare.

Cyber warfare is a computer- or network-based war involving diplomatically-motivated attacks by one country on another. It typically involves economies or their international organizational aids to attack other economies to damage another nation’s computers or information networks.

The results of such a large-scale, high-impact, and possibly fatal attack are disruptive. Strategic or military activities may be adversely impacted, and cyber espionage may paralyze the military prowess of countries. Since cyber warfare uses network technology, the victim nation might be rendered powerless in the event of any foreign attack, be it digital or physical.

India and Cyber Warfare

Over the years, India has spearheaded several initiatives domestically and globally to enhance the cause of data security and lower the risks of cyber warfare. While defensive cyber operations are necessary to protect a network, we cannot neglect Offensive Cyber Operations (OCOs) in military planning. They should get as much attention as defensive cyber missions.

Given the enormous investment requirements in cyber-military capabilities catering to OCOs, it is crucial to understand the importance of OCOs for India. Additionally, OCOs are necessary to effectively prosecute kinetic operations in contemporary and future warfare. In the case of an emergency, it can provide non-kinetic means of retaliation, though it has limitations.

However, a significant reason to worry is that India’s military has not yet been the beneficiary of cyber warfare tactics. There have yet to be earnest efforts by the policymakers to impart cyber security awareness among our armed forces to make them ready off the field. This is juxtaposed by an ever-expanding infrastructure network across utilities, where massive data is stored even while we speak across the cloud.

Cyber Warfare: India’s Vulnerability

India today has the highest number of internet users. This makes cyber security awareness necessary to avert national and personal security threats. Unfortunately, this essential awareness among users/subscribers seems to need to be included.

The rampant rise of digital technology and its subsequent penetration across the financial spectrum has made India highly vulnerable to global espionage and spying attempts. International forces have already spread their web of technological espionage across the country, and unknowingly, we, as users, are aiding their cause.

The massive penetration of Chinese mobiles across the Indian market further dampens our security prowess. These devices are often laced with undetectable malware that can instantly sabotage systems and applications. This is a blind spot where an internal code facilitates information transfer and promotes a cyber-attack.

The problem is that it isn’t easy to measure cyber security on the scale of national security because we need to have our hardware, technology, and products. It, therefore, becomes crucial to have a testing team to examine global products arriving on our shores and ensure that the product is not used to spy on us.

The Way for Cyber Security in India

The National Cyber Security Strategy is well on its way to being implemented and is expected to transform national cyberspace completely. It rests on three pillars: securing, strengthening, and synergizing in the existing environment and creating an eco-system of safe cyberspace. The aim is to ensure a safe, secure, trusted, resilient and vibrant cyberspace for India’s prosperity.

The Home Ministry has already approved the National Counter Ransomware Task Force setting up and will be launching it very soon. There are multiple new initiatives that the government is working on, which include regulations for Digital Lending Platforms by RBI, including regulations for UPI platforms and FinTech.

The harsh reality is that we can only have Digital India with security. Security is an essential pillar in Digital India itself. Data is important, and it is equally vital who handles the data. Trust is essential to an open, safe, secure, and trusted internet to help the digital economy reach the $ 1 trillion mark.

Like Digital India, today’s nation needs a ‘Secure India’ mission. Enterprises and government agencies must proactively strengthen their cybersecurity infrastructure to address possible challenges. With the ever-changing cyber security landscape, a good security plan demands proactive measures, including regular technology upgrades, awareness, and skilling and reskilling to all stakeholders.

Khushhal Kaushik is founder and CEO of cyber security organization, Lisianthus Tech. He is Vice President of National Cyber security association of India (NCSAI).

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

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First published on: 30-01-2023 at 20:27 IST