Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cyber Security Of Indian Satellites And Critical Infrastructure

We are living in a technology era where technology is both a friend and foe. It is up to us to work in this direction and ensure on which side technology should be. If technology is used for delivery of public services, we have the benefits of concepts like e-governance and e-commerce. On the other hand if the technology is used for causing wrong or harm to others we face concepts like cyber crimes, cyber attacks, cyber warfare and cyber terrorism.

Cyber warfare, in its basic form as well, is now a well accepted cyber threat. Cyber warfare against India is also well known and we must formulate a cyber warfare policy for India to counter such threats. Indian defense and security against cyber warfare needs to be upgraded and strengthened.

Similarly, terrorism and cyber terrorism are also posing big security problems for India. Indian counter terrorism capabilities are not sufficient and there is an urgent need to strengthen the same. Similarly, cyber espionage and cyber terrorism against India is also well known.

To start with we must have a robust and effective cyber security in India. We must also have an implementable cyber security policy of India. The cyber security policy must keep in mind both the preventive as well as offensive cyber attacks and cyber defense capabilities.

Critical infrastructure protection in India needs to be undertaken on a priority basis. We must have a critical infrastructure protection policy of India that must be strenuously followed by all governmental departments, organisations and even by private service providers.

For instance, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems are a favourite target for cyber criminals and cyber terrorists. By targeting SCADA these cyber miscreants can damage the critical infrastructure of India. We must ensure sufficient cyber protection of SCADA systems in India in general and critical infrastructure in particular.

Malware like Stuxnet and Duqu have already shown how critical infrastructures and SCADA systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Indian critical infrastructures have also been targeted by these Malware. It is believed that Stuxnet was responsible for shutting down an Indian communication satellite. Similarly, these Malware have also been targeting Indian nuclear systems and facilities.

Even the government computers have been comprised successfully in India in the past. Recently Indian National Informatics Centre’s (NIC) server were compromised and used to attack computers of other nations. Even satellites of various nations have been compromised and taken control of by terrorists and enemy nations.

These developments are serious enough and they must be sufficient for Indian government to formulate an implementable cyberspace crisis management plan of India. Of course, national security policy of India, cyber security policy of India, critical infrastructure protection policy of India, cyber warfare policy of India, etc must be integral part of the same. The sooner these steps are taken the better it would be for the larger interest of India.

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