Recently, Pakistani hackers compromised 10 Indian websites which included National Aeronautics, Army Institute of Management and Technology, Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Army Institute of Management, and the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences.
The hacker group — Pakistan Haxor Crew — claimed the action was to avenge the defacement of the Pakistan Railways website by an Indian hacker and to show solidarity with Kashmiris.
Last year, reports emerged in Australia that the entire design plans that reveal the capability of India’s Scorpene submarine fleet were leaked.
The design plans were leaked apparently from French manufacturer DCNS that is the designer of the system.
According to reports, more than 22,000 pages of plans had been leaked.
An IIT Kanpur study shared with Parliament’s Committee on Finance this year said attacks from the ‘Equation group’ — which a WikiLeaks reports said was a clandestine CIA and NSA programme — infected India’s telecom and military sectors and research institutes.
The government is finally reacting to the threat with a plan to create a new tri-service agency for cyber warfare. The Defence Cyber Agency will work in coordination with the National Cyber Security Advisor. It will have more than 1,000 experts who will be distributed into a number of formations of the Army, Navy and IAF.
According to reports, the new Defence Cyber Agency will have both offensive and defensive capacity.
The Defence Cyber Agency is seen as a precursor of a cyber command. After reports that Russia meddled in the US elections by hacking machines and creating propaganda on the internet and the recent ransomware and other cyber attacks being attributed to North Korea, cyber warfare is gaining importance.
According to experts, North Koreans have developed an advanced cyber program that steals hundreds of millions of dollars and can trigger global havoc.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju admitted last month that there was a huge gap in India’s capability and capacity when it came to cyber warfare and it was imperative to narrow down this difference to discourage cyber attackers.
China has already developed strong cyber warfare capacity. The next war may well have to be fought on the internet where a country’s vital networks and infrastructure would be on target that will create bigger disruption that actual wars.
Equally important is cyber propaganda. During the Doklam conflict, China tried its best to unleash cyber propaganda on India and indulged in complex psy-ops.
A Defence Cyber Agency could be the first step the government plans to for critical infrastructure and military networks that are increasingly becoming dependent on the Internet, thus increasing vulnerabilities.