In the battle to establish supremacy , few powers across the globe are resorting to all kind of options including penetrating critical systems ,key infrastructure of nations with an aim to cripple and destabilize operations using cyber space .
We are witnessing an era of bullying through unconventional means which indicates more or less an unrestricted war over a prolonged period to cut rivals or competitors to size . A recent example was in October 2020 , when a major commercial capital city in Southern Asia faced its worst power cut in decades with businesses hampered, the stock market halted, thousands of commuters stranded, and hospitals scrambling to ensure backup supply for COVID patients. Major outages are not altogether uncommon in these parts of the world but the city which was known for stable and reliable power supply was left completely stunned .The dispensation of the day was searching for answers, later initiated a detailed enquiry on the matter .
It was later found that a foreign cyberattack had targeted the servers of state power companies. Hackers of a particular tyrannical power had trained their sights on bringing down the city’s power grid .
With an expansionist agenda in the race of becoming a global power few locales are deploying coercive tactics resembles to an unrestricted war — which can range from salami slicing , cyberwarfare, debt-trap diplomacy, environmental degradation, and the spread of misinformation etc .
Defence experts and security advisors across the world have warned that in case of a world war 3 , cyberspace would be the battlefield and no country can afford to have a laidback approach specific to the issue of national security .
Security apparatus of countries across the globe are under tremendous pressure as they are grappling with ways to tackle cyber attacks which are engineered by rivals on an ongoing basis . Intense continuous monitoring and surveillance of all strategic and national assets has become the order of the day . Day by day phishing attacks , malware injected in the power grids , ransomware attacks on major private/public firms , espionage coupled with attacks on information systems, servers of nuclear plants, defence establishments, communication networks etc to steal blueprints and important documents are on the rise .
THE PROXY WAR
Rogue nations relish plausible deniability in its involvement in cyberwarfare against its rivals. Despite findings coming out of various investigations officials of the accused administration insist that the allegations are false and in any case, it is “very difficult to trace the origin of a cyberattack.”
The cyber-tactics run parallel to more traditional conflicts. There has been an observation that cyber war is ramped up on critical assets in tandem with the conventional means of warfare ( land disputes, border issues, display of power etc ) . Hardware in the form of switches , routers , towers etc used in the telecom/ communication networks across any sector are used to exploit vulnerabilities in the system . They transmit information to their country of origin which can be very detrimental in the long run .
Security agencies also face a major problem to trace and locate the cyber crimes , attacks as many a times servers are located in different locales . Citizen’s data privacy and protection has also become a major focus area across the globe owing to which various regulations have emerged .
When the world is battling the worst possible pandemic of all times , even the pharma industry is not spared . Servers of vaccine manufacturers were targeted with an aim to pilfer blueprints and solution details . Such malpractices with malicious intent neither serve nor protect the interests of humanity at large .
FEW SOLUTIONS TO PREVENT CYBER ATTACKS
- Invest in upgrading functionalities , developing new capabilities, build dedicated cyber security teams at a national level for continuous monitoring by providing them access to latest technologies
- Setting up emergency response teams to quickly respond to cyber attacks and mitigate any kind of risk at the earliest
- Global rules and standard norms for data sharing in case of cyber crimes
- Data localization : It refers to a requirement that any entity that processes the data of a particular country’s citizens must store that data on servers within that country’s borders.
- Hardware not be procured for critical and sensitive sectors from suspicious elements eg : For 5G trials some companies are not allowed to participate
- Increase R&D budgets and spending on technology with a focus on information security
- Deploy ethical hackers in every set up , identify and nurture talent at school and university levels
- Include chapters cyber security and awareness in the school curriculum , dedicated engineering colleges for data security , AI, information management , network and defence systems
- Train ,create awareness on cyber security and its importance . Employees, government officials and staff working in sensitive sector must undergo mandatory training programs
The race for outfoxing and outmaneuvering the rivals in a bid to showcase supremacy through unconventional means has begun .
About The Author :
Aditya Krishnan is a Digital Strategist & Consultant with 10+ years of experience across different sectors and practices . He has led and managed business transformation engagements ranging from setting up digital platforms , designing marketing strategies to leading conversion optimization, analytics projects . An active contributor and participant in the Webmasters , SEO , digital marketing, analytics professional groups/forums including trends on cyber security . He has authored several publications on various topics across portals and shares his views regularly on latest trends in the digital / marketing space . In addition to it he is also a reputed author , poet and an avid researcher .
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