“Technical superiority will determine the sovereignty of a country of a nation-state in the coming times,” said Brijesh Singh, the police inspector general under the Maharashtra government, in a session at the Cyber Warfare Symposium 2021.
In his keynote entitled “Cyber Preparedness: Enemy At The Gate”, he spoke about the dangers of crypto currencies as a tool for economic war and citizen participation in cyber attacks. Until recently, Singh was the head of the Maharashtra cyber cell.
Cyber Preparation Key to Sovereignty: Brijesh Singh
Here are some of the key points Singh made in his keynote address and Q / A session:
- Crypto for economic war: In his address, Singh emphasized the threat posed by opposing states that control your economy by exploiting vulnerabilities in cryptocurrencies:
Imagine an opposing state. If it finds a technical solution to attack the cryptocurrencies or dominate the flow of cryptocurrencies in your region, then they would be very well able to control your economy … So in a networked economy, When you have a currency that is only based on speculation and has no control over the central banks anywhere, that is a huge threat to sovereignty of the nation states. – Brijesh Singh
As an example, Singh pointed out that Pakistan used to print currency and send it to India to create inflation as a means of economic war. “Imagine how easy it becomes when you have a cryptocurrency,” added Singh.
- Technological superiority for sovereignty: Singh pointed out that cyberwarfare is happening right now, citing countries like China, North Korea, even Iran, Pakistan, the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom as having developed superior offensive capabilities. He also stressed India’s need to do better:
If you look at the Cyber Power Index then we are [India] don’t belong in the first five or ten. This is worrying because technological superiority will determine the sovereignty of a country from a nation-state in the times to come. – Brijesh Singh (emphasis added)
- Defacing websites: In response to a question about civilian participation in the defense against cyberspace, Singh took a stand against the defacement of government websites:
Personally, I am also against defacement actions that we are doing between India and Pakistan. It only leads to bad blood. It gets nowhere because in half an hour this page will be online … It’s very ridiculous and should be stopped. If offensive cyber warfare has to be waged at all, it has to have a clear mandate. It has to be properly controlled. There has to be supervision and serious professionalism. – Brijesh Singh
- Offensive strategies for companies: One participant asked Singh if companies should consider offensive cyber strategies, which Singh warned:
That would be a dangerous game because corporations will not be able to deal with backlash … If your opponent is an ideological opponent, he will cause damage. But when you face a nation-state, it has deep pockets. It has huge reserves, it has research and development, it has craft, it has malware, and it is far superior to you. It will just come back and destroy [you]. – Brijesh Singh
Recent cyberattacks in India
In his presentation, Singh spoke about the need for cyber preparation in India. This need is particularly evident from the recent multiple cyberattacks that have resulted in the leakage of data on Indian citizens:
- CDSL vulnerability: Personal information of 4.39 billion Indian investors was revealed through a security breach in Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL). The details that were revealed included home address, net worth, annual tax returns, marital status, and occupation, among other things.
- 30 reported data breaches: 30 data breach incidents were reported to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team between January and June 2021, according to a response to an RTI submitted by MediaNama.
- Injury to Acer India: Acer India’s servers were hacked in October by a group called Desorden who claimed to have stolen over 60 GB of files and databases.
- Malware targeting Indian bank users: The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued a recommendation in September on Android malware masquerading as an income tax refund portal aimed at targeting Indian online banking users.
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