India should stay abreast of critical technologies to counter the threat of such technologies being increasingly used by groups such as terrorists,separatists and Left wing extremists,said National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon here on Friday,citing,as an example,how terrorists had used VOIP to communicate with their handlers during the Mumbai terror strikes.
Addressing the National Technology Day celebrations at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC),he said,The information and communication technology (ICT) revolution has made enormous difference to the way we look at and deal with security. It has created a new domain of contention,namely cyber space where war,espionage,surveillance,control and all traditional security functions,activities and crimes take place.
Menon said Internet today provides terrorists,separatists and Left wing extremists with an effective means of recruitment,propaganda and communication and there is a risk that we are ceding this space to our enemies and consequently may lose the battle for the minds of the young who depend increasingly on Internet for information and opinions.
He said the government is in the process of putting in place capabilities and systems that will enable India to deal with the anarchic new world of constant and undeclared cyber threat,attack,counter-attack and defence.
The same ICT should be used by the state for counter-terrorism,surveillance and intelligence. It is for the state to show the same quickness in learning that its enemies have shown in the past. We must be able to guarantee and secure our critical systems and generate enough of our own technology to do so, he said.
While all major powers are developing offensive cyber capabilities and using cyber espionage,smaller powers are doing the same as they see ICT as an equaliser,he said. Autocratic regimes across the world now take power of ICT very seriously. One estimate speaks of about 120 countries developing capacity for cyber warfare. Equally,terrorism is technologically enabled and knows no boundaries today,even drawing on support within state systems. Within states,the lethality of terrorism and insurgency and the strength,reach and lethality of groups like al Qaeda and LeT are directly linked to their empowerment by these technologies. We felt the effects directly in Mumbai when the terrorists used VOIP communications with their handlers, he said.
We are making a beginning in putting in place a system of certification and responsibility for telecommunication equipment and are working on procedures and protocols that will rationalise communication interception and monitoring, he said.
Menon said Indias space and nuclear programmes have proved that the country is capable of developing indigenous technologies when the government is supportive but the nation is yet to show the same capacity or policy will in telecommunications,civil aviation,aerospace and other future technologies.
Acknowledging the major role nuclear technology has played in enhancing national security,Menon said several issues related to Indias nuclear strategy must be examined,including the effects on deterrence of ballistic missile defences,risks from unauthorised use of nuclear weapons or of their falling into terrorist hands,control and custody issues when nuclear weapons are treated as war fighting weapons and nuclear and missile proliferation in Indias neighbourhood.