Cyber Warfare

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  • The Geopolitics of Cyber Espionage

    There is an intricate relationship between the methods of cyber espionage and the evolution of information and communications technology, of which information security is a key aspect. This article is an attempt to establish forward and backward linkages of cyber espionage. It examines the geopolitics, methods, role of information security technology and, most importantly, how the future of cyber espionage is being shaped by emerging technologies such as supercomputing, quantum computing and ‘big data’, from an Indian perspective.

    January 2015

    Sunny Tomar asked: What is the difference between cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism? What is India’s position on both the issues?

    Cherian Samuel replies: From the technical angle, the difference between cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism is only nominal in that the means are the same, but the goals may be different. The same vulnerabilities in networks and systems can be used to attain a variety of goals, from crime to terrorism. As a hypothetical example, the systems of a high-value target such as a nuclear plant may be taken over by criminals and held to ransom or by terrorists for destructive purposes.

    Locked in LOC: Exploring Cyber Offensive Option for India

    India’s niche military and intelligence technologies in the field of cyber, space, robotics and jamming can have potential deterrence value and a ‘war minus’ option against Pakistan.

    August 20, 2013

    Sonny asked: Is cyber warfare actually a war? How does it affect India's security?

    Reply: Refer to the IDSA Task Force Report titled, “India's Cyber Security Challenges”; and, the Edited Transcript of IDSA Cyber Security Report Release & Panel Discussion, including the Keynote Address by Amb. Shivshankar Menon, National Security Advisor, May 16, 2012, at

    Also, refer to the following:
    Arvind Gupta, “CBMs in Cyber Space: What should be India’s Approach?”, IDSA Web Comment, June 27, 2012.

    Cherian Samuel, “Emerging Trends in Cyber Security”, IDSA Web Comment, March 28, 2012.

    Amit Sharma, “Cyber Wars: A Paradigm Shift from Means to Ends”, Strategic Analysis, 34 (1), January 2010.

    Subimal Bhattacharjee, “The Strategic Dimensions of Cyber Security in the Indian Context”, Strategic Analysis, 33 (2), March 2009.

    The Invisible War in West Asia

    The two recent malware attacks on energy companies in West Asia are particularly worrisome since they represent a rapid escalation in capabilities and intent on the part of the perpetrators.

    September 07, 2012

    China’s new great firewall and publicity offensive

    After ensuring that its people are only able to access ‘filtered’ news, the Chinese leadership has also decided to refurbish its image abroad through a major public relations effort.

    December 19, 2011

    Integrated Network Electronic Warfare: China's New Concept of Information Warfare

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) considers active offence to be the most important requirement for information warfare to destroy or disrupt an adversary's capability to receive and process data. Launched mainly by remote combat and covert methods, the PLA could employ information warfare pre-emptively to gain the initiative in a crisis.

    April 2010

    Pentagon Report on China: Assessment or Exaggeration?

    Even though the report is fairly cautious in what it says and does not highlight anything new, the reactions on the Chinese side have not been that positive.

    August 26, 2010

    Jai Singh Shekhawat asked: In view of the Chinese cyber war doctrine do we need a dedicated cyber command/institution under MOD. Its organistaion and likely charter?

    Cherian Samuel replies: Cyberspace as a theatre of war is still in its infancy, but one of its axioms is that offensive capabilities are easier to create than defensive capabilities. While many countries are developing offensive capabilities, accompanying strategies or doctrines are yet to make an appearance, with the exception of the Chinese who have developed a concept of “informationised war”. The absence of a doctrine inhibits the creation of an institutional structure as seen in the several false starts on the part of the US military before the establishment of the US Cyber Command in May 2010. Its mission statement, to “direct the operations and defence of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries” suggests that its primary objective is to build up a defensive capability.

    A cyber command has many negative connotations, and India is not inclined to be a party to the militarization of cyberspace, preferring instead to work towards considering cyberspace on the lines of existing global commons such as sea and space. That the emphasis is on preserving the integrity of defence information networks is seen in the statement of the Defence Minister in the Lok Sabha on July 26, 2010. However, even such a limited mandate might be difficult to fulfill given the fact that there is already a profusion of agencies within the military dealing with this, ranging from the Corps of Signals, to the A-CERT (Army Computer Emergency Response Team), to the IT Departments of the various HQs and the IDS. Even though the Defence Minister referred to the Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency (DIARA) as being the “nodal agency mandated to deal with all cyber security related issues of Tri Services and Ministry of Defence,” the increasing magnitude of cyber threats necessitates both consideration and co-ordination of responses at a much higher level.

    Internet at the Crossroads

    The Internet’s blurred boundaries and its existing vulnerabilities have led to unhealthy trends, which, if not addressed adequately, could pose severe problems.

    December 31, 2009