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Cyberspace has emerged as a global commons. It requires safe navigation by countries for trade, commerce and communication. Militaries consider it as the fifth domain — after land, sea, air and space. The internet economy, meanwhile, is growing significantly in all countries, leading to job creation, involving youth in all spheres of human activity. Nations want the internet to continue to innovate and grow; develop new business models, connect the globe through social media, create communities and remain a powerful means of communications and new ideas. However, the very same standard protocols of the internet that make it easy to connect in borderless space are used by criminals to attack private and public infrastructure as well as strategic resources. As a result, cyber crimes, espionage and cyber weapons are also on the rise. Crime syndicates, non-state actors and others continue to disrupt the peaceful uses of cyberspace. Unique characteristics of the internet, namely offence dominance, difficulty in attribution of attacks, development of cyber weapons by states and use of non-state actors to camouflage their actions are making cyberspace more and more insecure. Moreover, the applicability of international laws is not known, since the act of war by a state is difficult to establish — when started, whether ended.
Nations are developing offensive capabilities even as they preach its use for economic growth. Cases of cyber espionage, surveillance in the name of counterterrorism, and cyber warfare are high on the agenda of international discussions in an effort to ensure that the internet or cyberspace is used for the global good. The reecent stand-off between the US and China on espionage by the latter and political espionage by the former in the name of counterterrorism has escalated to high decibels. In addition, internet governance, largely under US government oversight, is another sore point in the global discussions.
India’s dependence on technology as a nation is increasing — the Indian economy is going the e-way. Growth in e-commerce, e-payments, card circulation, domestic IT market spending and internet user base are the leading indicators. The government is relying on technology to solve governance problems and socio-economic problems. Technology is becoming the lifeline of critical infrastructures such as energy, telecommunication, banking, stock exchanges, etc. Businesses are leveraging technology to transform their business models. Defence and police agencies are making strategic use of technology to modernise. As a nation, we are as much the victim of cyber attacks as any other country. The attackers are local and global — driven by motives such as financial fraud or terrorism; crime syndicates; nation-states attacking directly or using non-state actors for economic and political espionage. Attacks continued…