Cy­ber war­fare the next big threat


With In­ter­net hav­ing col­lapsed bound­aries, cy­ber war­fare can hap­pen any­where, from any­where and any­time. Its po­ten­tial to dis­rupt sys­tems is all too known and it is en­com­pass­ing al­most all fields. Even the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions have come un­der that cloud with al­leged in­volve­ment of Rus­sia. Cy­ber war­fare is for real and the next big threat.

On­line ter­ror­ism is gain­ing ground at gi­ga­bit speed. In this is­sue Lt Gen­eral (Dr) Ra­jesh Pant (Retd) writes about how cy­ber crim­i­nals cater for al­most 98 per cent of the on­line at­tacks. How­ever, of greater con­cern is the me­thod­i­cal man­ner in which ter­ror­ists are us­ing the In­ter­net for rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, re­cruit­ment and in some ex­treme cases even ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties. This in­doc­tri­na­tion is global from some god­for­saken place, thus be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to track the ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on in the dark web.

In an­other ar­ti­cle, Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) talks about how the In­dian mil­i­tary is kept away from the cy­ber war­fare pro­gramme. He says lit­tle progress has been made with re­spect of the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tion of 2012 for es­tab­lish­ing a cy­ber com­mand in the mil­i­tary. Gen­eral Ka­toch men­tions that in the US the counter ex­trem­ism project works with govern­ments ex­ploit­ing the In­ter­net to mo­bilise so­cial me­dia to counter ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy by ex­pos­ing the threat of ex­trem­ists and mount­ing a global counter nar­ra­tive. In­dia needs sim­i­lar public-pri­vate part­ner­ship to tackle this mam­moth prob­lem.

De­fence part­ner­ships are sig­nif­i­cant for coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism. The UK Sec­re­tary of State for De­fence Sir Michael Fallon was on a four-day visit to In­dia wherein he had meet­ings with the In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley. This en­dur­ing de­fence part­ner­ship will en­com­pass not only co­op­er­a­tion in de­fence in­dus­try but also stronger mil­i­tary to mil­i­tary en­gage­ment, in­clud­ing train­ing and ad­vanced joint ex­er­cises.

An­other such co­op­er­a­tion has been with In­dia’s close neigh­bour, Bangladesh. There is no doubt that Sheikh Hasina has been the best friend of In­dia, go­ing all out against ter­ror­ist net­works that has a di­rect bear­ing on In­dia. It would be good if the Naren­dra Modi govern­ment is able to push through a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial Teesta wa­ter shar­ing agree­ment be­fore the gen­eral elec­tions in Bangladesh in 2018. That would re­ally take Indo-Bangladesh re­la­tions to the next level.

While diplo­macy is the way for­ward, the need to keep the In­dian armed forces mod­ern and well-equipped goes with­out say­ing. There are many equip­ment gaps and one such that is com­ing up is in minesweep­ers. As per me­dia re­ports quot­ing the Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on De­fence, the ex­ist­ing fleet of six minesweep­ing ves­sels with the In­dian Navy will be de-com­mis­sioned next year. Gen­eral Ka­toch men­tions that build­ing mine coun­ter­mea­sure ve­hi­cles will take con­sid­er­able time. There is ur­gent need to get this cleared to equip the In­dian Navy with the crit­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity. The wor­ry­ing part now is that the Navy is likely to be with­out minesweep­ing ca­pa­bil­ity till year 2021.

De­fence tech­nolo­gies are mak­ing fast in­roads. The US De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency (DARPA) has com­pleted flighttest­ing of a sub­scale ver­sion of a novel air­craft de­sign as part of its ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing (VTOL) X-Plane pro­gramme, and is pro­ceed­ing with­work to de­velop a full-scale ver­sion of the ground­break­ing plane.

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

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