India Adopts a Two-Pronged Approach to Mitigate Cyberattacks

Information warfare

The information warfare between India and its neighbouring rivals is steadily increasing, owing to the rapid evolution of cyberspace. As a result, India is building offensive cyber capabilities and simultaneously strengthening the policies to prevent future cyberattacks.

India has had several cases of information warfare, and other forms of conflict inflicted upon by the rival nations to achieve information superiority. The Kargil War was the first incident where the impact of information war was observed both in India and Pakistan. The conflict later turned into a news propaganda war becoming the first live war in South Asia.

Both India and Pakistan have a history of producing conflicting claims and counterclaims against each other. To criticise and defame India on the international stage, the Pakistani media has launched disinformation campaigns on social media. To counter these attacks, Indian private actors launched advertisements in foreign publications detailing Pakistan’s role in the growing anti-India sentiments.

Srivastava Group emerged to internationally malign the Indian adversaries. The Indian firm launched 750+ fake media sites that were live in 119 states spreading pro-India content. The firm backed the entire operation promoting content against Pakistan and China and consolidating power for India at the EU and UN.

As the need to address cyber threats become more critical, the Indian government stepped up to strengthen the existing IT policies. The new social media rules with effect from May 25, required the large social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, to appoint the chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer while following due diligence.

The move was considered necessary amid India’s rising prominence in geopolitical areas that have made the country a lucrative target for state-sponsored & financially motivated threat actors. The social media companies would lose their intermediary status if they failed to comply with the newly released rules. Since India is one of the biggest markets for these tech companies, serious actions against these platforms could highly impact their business objectives in the country.

Some of the reports suggested that Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn have partially complied with the new IT rules, whereas Twitter has asked for three months time before it could comply with the new rules. The microblogging platform was under criticism for placing manipulated media tags on tweets posted by political leaders. On the other hand, Facebook-owned WhatsApp had sued the Indian government for the new IT rules.

Confronting the propagation of misinformation on social media has certainly become a critical task for India. The adversaries are using up the opportunities to exploit the information infrastructure which has the potential to alter the future nature of warfare.

As a result, the Indian government is not only strengthening the Indian offensive cyber front but taking extra safeguards to fight back cyber-attacks through strict IT policies. It is expecting tech businesses to adhere to all regulations. If not, India could decide to ban these applications from operating in order to fight the information warfare and the adversaries’ waging war tactics.

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