Indian tri-services chief (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat admitted the technological superiority of China in the cyber domain and said that the Indian Navy is better equipped than the Army and the Air Force to thwart cyber threats.
Addressing an event at the Vivekananda International Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, on Wednesday, the Chief of Defense Staff also said that the government leadership has shown the ‘will’ to take a strong stance to uphold vital national interests. He also addressed issues related to the Ladakh standoff with China.
Indian and Chinese soldiers disengaged from a friction point in eastern Ladakh in February, after a 10-month-long border standoff.
Admitting that Chinese technological superiority is indeed challenging for New Delhi to counter, Rawat said, “We know that China is capable of launching cyber attacks on us and that it can disrupt a large number of our systems. What we are trying to do is to create a system which would ensure cyber defense”.
Last October, a power outage in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, caused a large disruption in the city’s normal life and a huge economic loss for the country. While this outage was restored within a few hours, it had hit India’s Bombay Stock Exchange and the city’s lifeline, the Mumbai local trains.
A New York Times report said that the power outage was investigated and was declared as a cyber attack by China-based operatives. This was confirmed by Maharashtra’s Energy Minister Nitin Raut.
CDS Gen Bipin Rawat visited Karwar Naval Base today, 05 Apr 21. The General was received by Vice Adm R Hari Kumar, CinC #WNC & was briefed on the progress of Project Seabird & the plan for future infrastructure. The CDS also interacted with officers and sailors in the station. pic.twitter.com/zwLfWgky8z
— PRO Defence Mumbai (@DefPROMumbai) April 5, 2021
The Chinese cybercriminals attempted a similar attack on another power grid in India on March 3 but were successfully thwarted by state government agencies. According to reports, many Western and East Asian countries were hit by Chinese hackers last year.
General Rawat called this a “capability differential” and mentioned that the Indian Navy is “far ahead” of the other two forces in terms of imbibing advanced technologies, and thus being more capable in terms of cyber warfare.
He also revealed that all three services have their dedicated cyber agency to thwart such cyber-attacks and firewalls are being created to deal with the matter “in a serious way”.
This trust in the Navy follows Rawat’s two-day visit to the Southern Naval Command in Kochi a few days ago, where he reviewed the training establishments and saw the development in trials and construction of India’s next aircraft carrier IAC-1 (to be designated as INS Vikrant).
As a “prerequisite for internal stability”, the general stressed strong governance saying the security forces and diplomacy could tackle the situation at the international level. “We can’t just return to the way things were before. Therefore, change has become the need of the hour. There is a need to overcome and shed the colonial era syndrome completely,” he added.
Rawat also said that time has come for the military to look towards technology in a big way. He said that work is being done to create a national maritime commission under the Navy and the new entity would ensure convergence among users operating in the high seas and coastline.