Cyberspace splits along US-China geopolitical lines, India needs a position: cyber head of government

Representative image of cyberspace | Image by Tima Miroshnichenko | Pexels

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New Delhi: In order to better tackle the growing cybercrime, India will need to decide its stance as cyberspace becomes bipolar in accordance with current geopolitics, according to India’s cybersecurity chief.

Lt. Gen. (Dr) Rajesh Pant, National Cyber ​​Security Coordinator, speaking at a July 2 online meeting hosted by the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI), a nonprofit made up of organizations working in the field of public policies.

“In accordance with the unfolding geopolitics … there is a technological bipolarity which is also emerging in cyberspace” Pants said.

Bipolarity is widely shared between America and its allies on one side and China and its allied countries on the other.

Pant noted how the United States, under the Donald Trump administration and continuing under the Joe Biden administration, pioneered the concept of a “clean network” where only “trusted” equipment is used in telecommunications networks. . In addition, a number of countries are coming together and opting for “non-Chinese solutions”.

China, however, says a new internet protocol is needed and has also released a Global Data Security Initiative (GIDS) for the world.

GIDS is seen in the media as a way to “wrest control from the data security discourse in the United States.”

“These clear divisions are taking place and India must decide its future course,” Pant said.

Read also : India plans new cybersecurity strategy after “Chinese intrusions”

Why a neutral position won’t work

From a cybersecurity perspective, it is important that India decides its position as criminals take advantage of the internet and the lack of cooperation between countries and international laws embolden cybercriminals, Pant said.

Especially after the start of the pandemic, cybercrimes have increased. “Cybercrime has increased by 500%,” Pant noted.

India, however, has come up with a unique solution to protect telecommunications networks from possible spying and hacking, Pant said, highlighting the National Security Directive for the telecommunications sector. Cabinet approved in December 2020, Pant said it was a “historic” move.

Under the directive, India decided to draw up a “positive list” of companies and not a “negative list” of those it was considering possible bans to make to secure telecommunications networks. It was different from the US, UK, and some European countries that named and targeted some of the Chinese companies, such as Huawei.

India has decided that “instead of a negative list, we will prepare a positive list, and we will say who can enter. And the person who can enter, should be a trusted source in terms of our national interest”, Pant explained.

He added that India is the “only country in the world” to have adopted this approach.

In June of this year, Pant said his office was able to launch a portal called allowing telecom service providers to download details of the telecom equipment they wanted to purchase. Government officials then perform a detailed background check on the safety of the product based on company ownership, manufacture of the product, and where the semiconductors in the product come from.

Read also : How Chinese cyberattacks and the Mumbai blackout portray a new era of low-cost, high-tech warfare

“India has responded well to the pandemic”

Pant also spoke of the Global cybersecurity index (GCI) 2020 released earlier this week on June 29. The index is established by the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, called the International Telecommunication Union.

“You will be happy to know that we were 10th overall among 194 nations… and in the Asia Pacific region we were 4th,” said Pant, adding that the ranking was a “good mark to start”.

Cyber ​​security from an Indian government’s perspective, Pant added, has become an essential service during the pandemic. He endorsed the way ministries were handling the crisis, including the Ministry of Informatics, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Telecommunications.

In addition, he said that the Department of Energy has established in recent months sector emergency response teams to deal with cybersecurity issues for each vertical, such as vertical power generation, vertical transmission, distribution and network operations.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Read also : Cyber ​​threats now rub shoulders with nuclear threats – India needs a formal national strategy

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