In the Face of Rising Cyberwarfare, India Steps up Cyber Cooperation with Russia


In the wake of technological evolution, India has continued to unlock new growth opportunities through digital cooperation and strategic partnerships with the major cyber powers. The world’s largest democracy is not only making a breakthrough in bilateral terms but equally realising a greater vision of possessing cyber capabilities and solutions to counter the growing cyberwarfare.

For a secure digital future, India has stepped up cybersecurity cooperation with Russia. The latter has been listed under the top five countries in cybersecurity by CyberDB and Analytics Insight. Over time, Russia has given India cutting-edge military technology and is now looking forward to cooperating in manned flight programmes, rocket engine production and satellite navigation.

Since the countries throughout the world are conducting covert cyberwarfare operations against adversaries in cyberspace, the unified framework for cyberspace cooperation between India and Russia could become a challenge to other nations. Such collaborations would also encourage Indian hackers and hack-for-hire groups to expand their existing networks and participate in the global strategic competition.

It’s crucial to understand how the ongoing surge in cyberattacks would influence India-Russia’s long-standing “special and privileged cooperation” and serve the Indian cybersecurity guidelines.

Russia is considered to be home to the most complex and advanced cyber attacks. The FireEye researchers stated Russian cyberattacks to be technically advanced and highly effective at evading detection. The “Red October” campaign, including its satellite software dubbed “Sputnik,” is a prominent example of likely Russian malware.

Russia is more interested in collecting cyber intelligence that increases its comparative advantage in classified information, diplomatic negotiating positions, or future policy changes. Its cybersecurity cooperation with India might help the country in fighting cyberwarfare.

It was in 2019, when the cyberattack on India’s largest power station – The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, prompted a new wave of cyber collaboration with Russia. One major reason was Russian state-run firm Atomstroyexport’s role in the construction of the 6,000-MW Kudankulam project. Additional steps were taken to enhance the security of the project.

With its steady investments in Indian defence, Russia is becoming India’s leading tech partner. Both countries are sharing ideas and principles for mutual benefit in lieu of growing cyber warfare activities. In 2016, India signed a far-reaching cybersecurity agreement on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Goa. The aim was to tackle cybercrime and cooperate in terms of defence and national security.

India is a promising market and has a strong reputation as one of the world’s leaders in the IT industry. Last year, India and Russia discussed the notion of producing IT and related products in collaboration with third-country exports. Both countries agreed to collaborate in the field of AI, blockchain, 5G, Machine Learning, and cybersecurity.

In February, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Russia to exchange views on topical issues of regional and international importance, including cyberspace and India’s BRICS chairmanship. The two sides agreed for high-level exchanges, including the Annual Bilateral Summit that did not take place amid the COVID lockdowns in India.

Despite the continuing flux in global politics, the India-Russia bilateral and cyber relations appear to be on track. There is also a high possibility that India may have already been looking for offensive capabilities support from Russia to counter the ongoing cyber attacks on India in the region.

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