India pitched apprehension about cyber-attacks headed through cross border during the United Nations Security Council open debate on ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Cyber security’. Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla addressed cyber-attacks country had witnessed lately, without mentioning specific names of the neighboring nations.
He said, ‘Some states are leveraging their expertise in cyberspace to achieve their political and security related objectives and indulge in contemporary forms of cross border terrorism’. Cyber security threats are the new way of terrorizing, that threatens the confidentiality of a nation in every possible form. And since India has adopted digital mode of functioning at utmost situations amid lockdown, the country stands at a vulnerable position. According to the information and tracked statistics by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), 3,94,499 and 11,58,208 cyber security incidents have been noted during 2019 and 2020. The government informed that about 696,938 cyber-attacks were reported between January to August in last year.
Manish Sharma is an IT expert and working in this field for more than ten years now. According to him, ‘It is not like we were not facing cyber-attacks before. But since we are becoming more digital in every step, we are stepping in cyber space briefly, we are also standing at a point where cyber-attacks will be frequent and normal. All we got to do is be careful and have to have a core and a strong defense technology to get through it.’ Manish described cyber attacks that usually lands up like, Password attack, Ransomware, Malware, Phishing. He told EAT news, ‘Cyber criminals conduct cyber attacks with the motive of stealing information, getting illegal and unauthorized access to more than one computer and ruining the data, and there are lot more reasons one could have.’
Cyber-attack could be considered as a national threat because of the complications that comes with it. As cyber world doesn’t deal with physicality, anonymity gets welcomed involuntary. ‘The borderless nature of cyberspace and more importantly, the anonymity of actors involved have challenged the traditionally accepted concepts of sovereignty, jurisdiction and privacy’, said foreign secretary Shringla. Also, selective narrative could be easily built up with wide reach through social media platforms promoting particular agendas in the name of cyber terrorism. Foreign secretary Shringla added, ‘We are witnessing a sophisticated use of cyberspace by terrorists around the world to broaden their appeal, spread virulent propaganda, incite hatred and violence, recruit youth and raise funds’.
Manish agree with the fact that cyber space is being used negatively and cyber criminals are getting benefit completely. ‘Cyber terrorism definitely does not mean only cyber-attacks. Anything that is terrorizing people through cyber medium is called cyber terrorism. From last few years, terrorists are using cyber space for promoting their agendas, recruiting and even communicating. What is more terrible is that our own people are getting trapped in their net’, he said. He mentioned about the recruitment terrorist groups are behind through different social media platforms and brainwashing number of young people to join them. He quoted EAT news, ‘I remember, in 2018 we were told to keep an eye on any suspicious activity conducted by any employee promoting and radicalizing terrorism religiously or through violence, assisting any sort of agenda.’
However, the recent cyber-attack in India was on the power grid last year in October in Mumbai, where the power service was interfered and it was announced blackout for hours. According to the trusted reports, Chinese hackers named ‘Red Echo’ by recorded future, a cybersecurity firm abased out of the US was to be blamed for the damage and disruption. As per General Bipin Rawat, India’s highest ranked army official, ‘China is capable of launching cyber-attacks on us that can that can disrupt a large amount of our systems’. While making his statement in April to the press, he indicated nation’s cyberspace is under threat.
Currently, India is among one of the most cyber targeted countries in the world, declared by Harvard University’s National Cyber Power Index. India is quite active on digital forums and covers wide area of cyber space. From e-commerce to government services, finances, mode of payments, Digital India campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi make sure Indians to adapt this change. Manish indicates the threat that came with the campaign along with benefits. He said, ‘It is a progressive campaign but everything has its pros and cons. Going digital opens up doors for the cyber criminals to be hungrier for stealing and wreak havoc in extreme. They get lot of options to dive into. Cyber hackers are not normal people. They are all experts who knows every inch of technology and they are conquering their goals just by sitting behind a screen in a room’.
‘We need to strengthen our cyber security teams as technology is moving rapidly day by day and we need to be updated with all kind of cyber terms to stand still against the cyber terrorism’, added Manish Sharma.
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