Cyber Attacks – How Dangerous Is China?

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat recently identified China’s capability to carry out cyber attacks as one of the biggest threats. He said India is focusing on cyber defence, and working on offensive cyber capabilities as well, to counter such threats.

China attacks on Indian servers

  • The most recent example of the extent of disruption an attack on the power grid can cause was witnessed in October, last year. India’s financial capital was left reeling for hours as a power outage disrupted services in Mumbai. The chaos was allegedly caused by a new coalition of Chinese hackers dubbed ‘Red Echo’ by Recorded Future, a cybersecurity firm based out of the US.
  • In 2008, Indian government officials told that Chinese hackers were trying to break down servers on a daily basis — this included targets like the National Informatics Centre, the National Security Council and the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • More recently, since the Galwan Valley clash — which escalated into a long, drawn out stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the number of threats coming in from China has only increased. According to Singapore-based cybersecurity firm, Cyfirma, there was a 200% increase in cyber attacks from China between May to June.
Cyber Attacks - How Dangerous Is China?

Chinese power in cyber attacks

  • Wars in today’s day and age aren’t found on the battlefield but in cyberspace. Malware is ammunition, hackers and cybersecurity experts are the soldiers, and what they’re fighting over is data.
  • Harvard University’s National Cyber Power Index currently ranks China second in cyber power.
  • Meanwhile, India is among one of the most cyber targeted countries in the world. And for China, India is the number one target.
  • We know that China is capable of launching cyber attacks on us, and that can disrupt a large amount of our systems.- Gen. Rawat

What is India doing to counter it?

According to Gen. Rawat following things are being done and planned for future:

  • a plan is already in the works to address China’s growing prowess in the field of technology. For it to be successful, he opines that resources across all three pillars of the armed forces — the army, navy, and airforce — need to be integrated.
  • We are trying to create a system in which we ensure cyber defence
  • We have been able to create a cyber agency, which is our own agency within the armed forces.
  • Each service also has its own cyber agency to ensure that even if we come under a cyber attack, the down time and the effect of the cyber attack does not last long.
  • We should be able to overcome that cyber attack and continue with the systems either through an alternate means or preventive means through firewalls.
  • Navy , is far ahead of the Army and Air Force in as far as the way they have imbibed technology.

Way Ahead

  • We may not be able to fully catch up with China but therefore we are trying to develop some kind of a relationship with western nations to see how better we can get some support from them, during peacetime at least which will help us to overcome this deficiency that we have.
  • India is developing its own systems after studying those of western nations, China and other countries.
  • We can overcome this technology differential with China only if we integrate the resources of the three services.

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