Cyber Warfare Policy Of India Is Urgently Needed

Cyber Warfare

We are living in a connected world where information and communication technology (ICT) is playing a major role in our day to day works. Not only our routine works, but even sensitive Government works are done using computers and ICT. Of course, Government is smart enough to separate the sensitive computers and systems from the Internet but that does not mean that such systems are fully and absolutely secured. There are means and methods to target even air gapped systems and often human beings prove to be the weakest link in the cyber security chain.

India has been pushing use of E-Governance and Digital India for long and this is creating digital systems and services throughout India. However, the cyber security of such digital systems, websites, critical infrastructures, SCADA systems, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, etc is still questionable. All we see and hear about cyber security in India is use of software to protect systems and computers but software is just one part of the solution. Also our media has been equating websites defacement as cyber war that is absolutely wrong. Cyber warfare is not some long hanging fruit exploitation like websites defacement. That can be done by even script kiddies and we have nothing to fear from such act. This does not mean that we should not take the security of our websites lightly. All I am saying is that threats to critical infrastructures is more pressing to resolve and we must take special care of cyber warfare activities directed against India.

In the year 2014 too i talked about the need for formulating a sound and Techno Legal Cyber Warfare Policy of India (PDF). I am reiterating my suggestion to have a Cyber Warfare Policy for India on priority basis. I am happy with the positive development of establishment of Defence Cyber Agency (DCA) by India. The DCA is a tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces. Headquartered in New Delhi and the agency is tasked with handling cyber security threats. The DCA draws personnel from all three branches of the Armed Forces. Now positive work in the direction of developing both offensive and defensive cyber warfare capabilities would take some concrete shape.

Countries have created dedicated cyber warfare units to attack and defend in cyberspace. In the absence of any universally acceptable international cyber law and cyber security treaties, these activities cannot be legally scrutinised. Many countries have also extended legal immunity to such teams and they cannot be prosecuted by either national or international law enforcement agencies. In fact, FBI is engaging in trans border search and hacking activities that would violate cyber law of many nations. Also intelligence agencies world over are not subjected to parliamentary oversight that gives them enough leverage to adversely use ICT. Intelligence Agencies of India are also demanding legal immunity against cyber deterrent acts. All this is over and above the social media and open source intelligence activities that are already going on unregulated world over.

So it is safe to presume that Indian Government is well aware what is happening at global level. That is why it created DCA but creation of DCA is just the beginning. Now it is for the DCA to formulate effective Techno Legal Policies in various fields so that Indian cyberspace and space activities are not adversely effected.

We have performed our duty and part in this regard. We incorporated entities like TeleLaw Private Limited (TPL) and PTLB Projects LLP and both of them have been recognised as startups by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and MeitY Startup Hub. We have launched a dedicated website for our TeleLaw Project that is helping in formulation of Techno Legal Policies and Regulations in fields like Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Big Data, Blockchain, Privacy and Data protection, Cyber Crimes Investigation, etc. We have also launched an online portal that is ensuring skills development for professionals, law enforcement and intelligence agencies offices, etc. We have launched few Techno Legal Centre of Excellence in fields like Cyber Security, Cyber Crimes and Cyber Forensics Investigations, IoT, Human Rights Protection, Digital India, Online Disputes Resolution (ODR), Etc.

We are always open to all forms of collaborations and joint research activities that can help in strengthening of Indian cyber security and cyberspace. Now the call is for the DCA and Indian Government to take.