Introduction:

  • In addition to land, sea, air, and space, cyber is frequently referred to as the fifth dimension of combat. It looks that cyber warfare will increasingly become a regular part of a nation’s arsenal.
  • Despite the fact that India is third in the world in terms of internet users behind the United States and China, its cybersecurity infrastructure is still in its infancy.
  • The necessity to raise cyber commands reflects a shift in strategies as well as establishing deterrence in cyberspace, according to shifting military doctrines around the world.

India and Cyber Warfare:

  • It is the purposeful attack on information systems for strategic or military reasons using computer technology to impair the functioning of a state or organization.
  • The use of unlawful internet exploitation methods, the corruption or disruption of computer networks and software, hacking, computer forensics, and espionage are all examples of cyber warfare.

Cyber Warfare Proponents’ Arguments: 

  • Cyberwarfare is a safer and more flexible strategic alternative, one important step between sanctions and bombs, when used responsibly and with sufficient controls.
  • Minimises Loss of human life: One of the main concepts of war ethics is to minimize the loss of human life.
  • Cyberwars can be viewed as a strategy to reduce global bloodshed and change the focus of hostilities away from human losses.
  • Prevents Physical Territorial Invasion: Fighting digitally provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the continuation of politics through other methods, without the need for a physical invasion of a sovereign country.

Counter-arguments to Cyber Warfare:

  • Cyber warfare attacks on military infrastructure, government and private communications systems, and financial markets constitute a rapidly expanding but little understood threat to international security, with the potential to become a decisive weapon in future confrontations between states.
  • More Countries Will Be Involved in Wars: Once cybertechnology becomes a major factor in national defence plans, the size of a country will become irrelevant.
  • Smaller countries that are empowered by cybertechnology will be able to wreak as much damage as larger governments like the United States, Russia, India, or China.
  • Lowering the Entry Barrier to War: In the twenty-first century, weapons will just be a cyber button on the desk of the nation’s military/government leader.
  • Land, population, and GDP will have little bearing on war-making capability or deterrent.
  • More Frequently Occurring Battles: As cyber warfare becomes more common, each country will need to be better prepared for bilateral conflicts focused on cyber warfare rather than multilateral acts of conventional warfare or relying on military blocs for mobilization.

India’s Threats:

Previous Experiences: India has been the target of numerous cyber-attacks in the past.

  • GhostNet, a suspected electronic espionage network, was discovered to be targeting the Tibetan government in exile in India, as well as various Indian embassies, in 2009.
  • A Chinese state-sponsored gang is also suspected of being behind the power outage in Mumbai in 2020.

China’s threats include: Targeted cyber assaults from unfriendly nation states pose the greatest threat to India.

  • China, for example, can put massive resources to bear on sophisticated cyber operations.
  • India is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a specialized cyber component in its military.
  • The establishment of a Défense Cyber Agency was announced, however it was simply a half-hearted gesture, typifying India’s lack of strategic planning.

Next Steps:

Clarifying the Objectives: Bringing Changes to National Security Policy The National Security Policy of the twenty-first century must identify what assets must be protected, as well as the identity of adversaries who want to overawe the population of a target nation by making unusual maneuvers that cause people to become confused.

Establishing Priorities: Novel departments will be required to support numerous frontiers of research and technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, seawater desalination, thorium for nuclear technology, anti-computer viruses, and new immunity-creating drugs, to name a few.

  • Compulsory science and mathematics education will be required to focus on a new emphasis.
  • Furthermore, every person must be made aware of and prepared for the new remote controlled military technology.

Changing the Approach: The new national security policy’s aim will be to anticipate opponents in a variety of ways, including by demonstrative but limited pre-emptive strikes, as well as building an enemy deterrent campaign.

  • For India, the new challenge will be China’s cyber capability, for which it would need to design a new strategy.

New Items on the Agenda: Critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, and marine security will be on the new strategy’s agenda.

Policymakers’ Role: A separate budget should be set up for cybersecurity by the government.

  • To combat state-sponsored hackers, a central body of cyber warriors is being formed.
  • India’s software development potential should be capitalized on by creating job chances.
  • Using federal funds to help states start their cybersecurity capacity programs.
  • The three primary components of any national plan to combat cyber threats are defence, deterrence, and exploitation.
  • Individual ministries and private firms must also put mechanisms in place to honestly report breaches of critical cyber infrastructure.
  • Cyberspace deterrence is a massively complicated subject. 
  • Nuclear deterrence works because opponents’ capabilities are well understood, whereas cyber warfare lacks this clarity.
  • Cyberspace is being used to achieve national security goals. 
  • The Indian military will have to begin preparing for this by gathering intelligence, evaluating targets, and developing specific tools for cyber strikes.

Conclusion:

  • Land area or GDP size become meaningless once cybertechnology becomes a key variable in a nation’s defence strategies. 
  • To improve India’s cybersecurity position, a clearer approach and greater transparency are required.
  • A clear public posture on cyber defence and combat increases citizen confidence, helps allies develop trust, and clearly signals intent to prospective enemies, resulting in a more stable and secure cyber ecosystem.

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