Let's Build a Responsible Cyber Society




How Do We Respond to Chinese Cyber Aggression?

For the last few days, Cyber Space has been presented with a big challenge. We are in a situation where we need to determine the right of Chinese Government to launch attacks on the cyber space of other Governments or Citizens of other countries.

On the one hand Indian Government is embarrassed about the hacking of e-mails of the National Security Advisor and other officials of the PMO in Delhi. At the same time the decision of Google to withdraw from China on account of the illegal Cyber attack on its resources traced to Chinese Government sources has thrown a challenge to the US Government on its ability to protect its citizens.

Now it is the time for the Indian and US Governments to respond to this aggression. India has a history of suffering in silence whatever China does either in Ladak or Arunachala Pradesh. US is however has a history of immediate counter attack as we have seen in Afghanistan.

It would be interesting to see if India becomes aggressive or US chickens out of this challenge or they play to their true traditions.

India has the option of registering a case of Cyber Terrorism under Section 66F of ITA 2008, start an investgation and challenge the Chinese to handover the so called hackers whom we believe are not "hackers" but "Sponsored terrorists" or "Chinese Cyber Soldiers".

If this is an ordinary cyber crime, then China can extradite the persons resposnible to face trial in India like Kasab. If they are sponsored by the Chinese Government then we need to take up the issue with the international community and declare China as a Cyber Terrorist State. If the hackers turn out to be paid soldiers of Chinese army, India has to take up with UN and treat this as a declaration of Cyber war and respond with a counter attack.

The first step the Indian Government need to take is to stop all imports from China and extend this embargo to all indirect imports. This is also necessary to protect India from the possibility of hardware based cyber risks such as espionage through doctored Internet routers, laptops etc imported into India from China.

US can take its own action as it deems fit. However India should move ICANN along with US and other countries to declare China as a "Rogue Cyber Country" and "Banish China from Cyber Space."

Well these are steps that will be taken by a strong Government with a will to defend the integrity of the country. Can India take up this challenge?

As a beginning, India needs to first put its National Cyber Security Infrastructure in shape. Presently there is a complete lack of an unified effort of the different units of the Government that can contribute to the cause. There should therefore be a Cyber Security Task Force set up jointly by the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Home affairs and Ministry of Communications and Information Security. Ministry of Foreign Affairs need to be kept out of this security set up since their involvement would dilute the resolve.

Mr Chidambaram has mooted the idea of a Ministry of Internal Security and bringing all intelligence agencies under one roof. Similarly we need to create a "Unified Cyber Command", provide it the authority equivalent to the Army, Navy and Airforce and initiate further action. Such a command should be administered by an appropriate technology expert and not necessarily the uniformed officer of the defense forces.

If initiatives like these requires creation of a separate ministry called  " Ministry for Cyber Space Security", it should be created forthwith. For the time being Mr Chidambaram may be given additional charge of this ministry until an equally or more competent person is identified by the ruling Government. 


January 15, 2010

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