World War III: It’s going to be cyber war but is India prepared?


Tallin, Estonia

Due to a simple reason of Russian Army's memorial being brought down by protestors, the Russians supposedly attacked through what is called a DDOS attack (Distributed Denial of Service).They jammed all networks with so much traffic that it brought down all the financial networks of the country! This has been nicknamed WWI or Web War I.

United States- May 2009

North Korea attacked all the web services of Homeland Security & Transportation departments and brought them down. Could the US counterattack when North Korea has no grid and hardly any internet connections?

Canada, 2009

The Canadians suddenly discovered Ghostnet that took over 1300 Computers at various embassies around the World. This had the capability to turn on a computer's camera and microphone remotely without alerting the user and to export images and sound silently back to servers in China.

Preempting this necessary evil, China has built both offensive and defensive cyber warfare units from 2003 onwards.

Our lives today have become increasingly dependent on technology and being connected. We cannot imagine lives without phones, tablets and the internet. DARPA, the Defence R&D funding organization, originally created the Internet but the question arises if they were aware of its potential both positively and negatively at that time?

India is a large country with neighbors like China and Pakistan and in today’s technologically advanced era, looking at the size of the armed forces and military equipment will not be enough to defend and attack. Nuclear deterrence has always been a hot topic but now we need to talk about Cyber-war deterrence too. Cyber crimes have the capability to attack in a completely new environment where one cannot be prepared to defend. In cyber wars, one can attack a country by targeting its financial system, electricity grids and other critical services. It has become extremely crucial that we understand the gravity of these cyber wars and be aware of all the areas of vulnerability that exist in our system.

Recently, the new Government also recognized the importance of cyber security and I believe a new unit has been created in the PMO to overlook this aspect. We need to look at our Public and Private infrastructure including power, banking, financial, nuclear, telecom etc and create strategies to protect them. The import of telecom equipments increased from all over the world without considering the possibility of spyware being present. The Defence Ministry should also consider the creation of a Joint Command for Cyber Warfare and create warriors trained only on this. We will need to create both defensive and offensive capabilities to be prepared for such attacks. Like China, India also needs to build indigenous capability in key technologies in computers using our own operating systems and networking equipment for our networks to become secure. This effort also requires support from corporate’s as we move ahead to privatized infrastructure like railways, power etc.

The time has now come for India to recognize this need and address any vulnerability that exists in the system. In the increasingly digital world that we are moving towards, we need to prepare ourselves to defend any web wars that come our way

Mr Ajai Chowdhry is the founder of HCL. He served as the chairman of the company from 1999 onwards. Mr. Chowdhry has been the key driving force in changing the face of IT industry in India.
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