Days after India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) warned against growing threats of Chinese cyber-attacks, it has now emerged that New Delhi will seek US assistance to protect its military infrastructure from Chinese hackers.
According to Bloomberg, the matter was taken up with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during his recent visit to New Delhi. India has apparently decided to seek US cooperation in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, the news agency said.
On April 7, India’s (CDS) General Rawat pointed out the gap between the Chinese ability to attack Indian military software and India’s capability to defend the same during an event in New Delhi.
“We have been a little slow on the start, therefore over the years, a capability differential has come in,” he said.
The CDS is championing a system in which every service within the military will have its own agency to combat cyberattacks to decrease the reach of threats. He also talked about cooperating with western nations to “overcome India’s deficiency”.
The US also has its own vulnerabilities that it needs to overcome. American reliance on its satellite system means that a Chinese attack on that could cripple its network.
A China-backed cyber-attack on Mumbai’s power grid last October made India realize the vulnerability of its critical infrastructure. Witnessing the newer and non-traditional security threats against civilian systems, the vulnerability of the military ones also becomes apparent, despite the latter having more safeguards.
The US, which opposes India’s S-400 deal with Russia, has found an unlikely ally in Subramanian Swamy who stated that it “would be well-advised not to use S-400 in a possible battle with China. This is because S-400 is made with Chinese electronics.”
In the wake of the Ladakh border standoff last year, India had banned a number of Chinese apps citing security concerns.
After getting a taste of the damage China can do by cyber war, can we rely on S-400 anti aircraft weapon? China can make it fizzle.
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) March 3, 2021
India is not the only country that faced cyber-attacks linked to China. Australia, Canada, and the US have all accused Beijing of similar acts. The Chinese strategy includes cyber-espionage during peacetime to give itself an upper hand that when conflict breaks out, it can easily cripple the enemy.
“Without network security, there is no national security,” Chinese President Xi Jinping had proclaimed in 2014.
The fact that it is near-impossible to track the original identities of the attackers, especially if they are smart enough to not leave any digital signature, has provided China with a perfect escape route. Thus, Beijing is always in denial mode, leveling counter-accusations against the countries that point the finger at China.
According to tech portal WIRED, cyber-attacks leave back doors open which can be exploited later. Think about it this way- if thieves break through the front door and leave from the back, most homeowners will try to fix the damage in front rather than notice what the thieves left in the back.