Cyber Agreements Have Become Indispensable to Combat Fifth Generation Warfare
Noting the need to strengthen the security of critical information infrastructure, India is actively expanding cyber agreements and cooperation with foreign nations. Moreover, it is also developing offensive cyber capabilities to regulate information exchanges, foreign agreements, and frameworks to combat cybercrime significantly.
India signed MoU with many countries to promote closer cooperation for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the detection, resolution, and prevention of cybersecurity incidents between them. Despite the cyber agreements, the attacks on Indian cyberspace have steadily risen over a period of time.
The consistent intrusions by Chinese hackers have prompted the need for strengthening offensive cyber capabilities in India. Since cyber warfare was gaining importance globally, India also launched malware attacks upon adversary nations, with the help of private actors and APT groups. SideWinder, Viceroy Tiger, Dark Basin, and Phronesis are some of the Indian entities that became widely popular for targeting the Asian countries in their cyberspaces.
China possesses a strong cyberwarfare capacity. It has unleashed cyber propaganda on India and even indulged in psy-ops to create chaos. The recent cyberattack on Air India’s data servers is believed to have been launched by Chinese hackers. It affected about 4.5 million customers around the world.
Connections to Chinese threat group APT 41 (Barium) have been grounded based on the overlaps and similarities found in payloads deployed by the group in a 2020 global intrusion campaign. The same year, China also launched a malware attack on the Mumbai power grid.
The increase in cyberattacks, fueled by geopolitical factors, brought the existing Indian APT groups to the forefront. India has been known to use less sophisticated but effective techniques such as decoy documents containing weaponised macros. China became one of the top-target of Indian cyber espionage.
Indian APT groups like SideWinder have been plaguing governments and enterprises in South Asia and East Asia since 2012. Another APT group called Viceroy Tiger used weaponised Microsoft Office documents in spear-phishing campaigns against India’s adversaries in 2013.
Later, Dark Basin raised the bar for the sophistication of Indian cyber attacks in 2017. Indian cyber-intelligence firm – Phronesis, also came up with offensive cyber developments. The firm played a huge role in fifth-generation warfare. Its achievements were listed in the APT report, Monsoon. The attacks portrayed that India possesses offensive capabilities to counter cyber adversaries.
At present, India has stepped up both technology cooperation and cyber attacks with other countries. During the first meeting of the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG), it agreed to cooperate with Australia in the spheres of the digital economy and cyber-enabled critical technologies. With the cyber agreements and offensive cyber building, India is slowly positioning itself to be on the top list of cyber secure countries.