India vs China: Research paper says Indian infrastructure highly vulnerable to Chinese cyber attacks

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India vs China: Research paper finds Indian targets like ministries, embassies, industrial houses, defense establishments, and sensitive government installations are vulnerable to cyber attacks from China

You all know about rising border problems between India and China. There have been numerous calls from Indians’ to boycott the use of Chinese technology in India, but can India discard these technologies or ban these Chinese products? Are Indian’s all that secure from Chinese state-sponsored hacking groups?

A new research paper by Brigadier Saurabh Tewari published on the United Service Institution of India revealed that India is mostly using technologies made up of Chinese providers and is vulnerable to many exploitations in critical situations. You probably know that countries all over the globe have always accused China of cyber-espionage activities and probable spying through its vicious technologies. Just last week we had a Chinese-state-sponsored hacking group, Gallium hacking into Austria’s number one mobile service provider, A1 Telekom.

The potency and overwhelming lethal effects of cyber warfare have outpaced the technological development in conventional military weapons space, changing the very character of future wars, and the role of cyber warfare in them. Worldwide cyber warfare is now being acknowledged as the fifth dimension of warfare.

Brigadier Saurabh Tewari

According to the paper, cyber incidents against India have been occurring at regular intervals, especially in the last decade. This has been acknowledged at the highest levels like the former National Security Advisor (NSA) of India, MK Narayanan.

Recently, a report by US Cyber Security Company, called ‘FireEye’, said that China has been spying on Indian government and business for more than a decade without India being aware of it, and there is more to come. The consistency of incidents indicates a dedicated India-targeted espionage system purportedly originating in China.

China uses the term “Integrated Network Electronic Warfare” (INEW) to describe an integrated approach to information warfare operations and includes electronic warfare (EW), computer network warfare, and psychological operations. Below is the image of Salient aspects of Chinese strategy on cyberspace shared by Brig. Tewari.

Firms like Huawei and ZTE are having close relations or are partly owned by the Chinese government, and are assumed to be prime weapons of implanting viruses, trojans, and malware in all the equipment sold to Indian companies and government. And since they’re aided by State-Owned Banks in China, they’re capable of underbidding in all tendering processes of institutions like telecommunication networks, government departments, railway networks, power networks, etc. Only yesterday we had the Chinese state-owned ‘Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co Ltd (STEC)’  emerging as the lowest bidder for construction of an underground stretch of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS (Regional Rapid Transit System) project. It undercut prices to bid just Rs.44 crores ($5,780,000) less than the Indian company, L&T.

The research paper says that such undercutting of prices and usage of their products gives them direct access to spy, control, and steal confidential information whenever needed.

India has various organizations dealing with cyber issues like the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), Tri-Service Cyber Command for the Armed Forces (proposed), etc. However, they are not integrated with each other and operate independently. Brig. Tewari says that there is a need to have a single policy level agency and a single execution level agency, which can coordinate at the national level, so as to derive maximum dividends out of the efforts being put in.

The total strength of cybersecurity experts deployed in various government agencies of the government is a mere 550 compared to 1 lac+ in China, 91,000 in the USA, and 7000 in Russia. There is thus a dire need to develop and hire cybersecurity experts by the government and exploit their talent to protect critical information infrastructure as well as acquire cyber offensive capabilities.

Now can you say that the Indian infrastructure is safe from state-sponsored hacking attempts by the Chinese government?  You can read the research paper published by Brig. Tewari from here To stay tuned on tech and cybersecurity news subscribe to our newsletter from here

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