In the past three years, critical infrastructure the world over—from transportation systems, power production facilities, communications equipment, along with commercial and military assets have come under unprecedented cyber-attacks from increasingly sophisticated elements. In 2010 satellites controlled by India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO), large scale power projects in Gujarat, offshore oil platforms, and an Army command operations center in Assam were all taken offline as a direct result of cyber-attacks.
Given increasing evidence that many hacks against India are emanating from units within the Chinese MSS, who have been known to target American defense and IP assets, these revelations should be of equal concern to the United States. India has attempted to create a nodal agency to set up an IT defense infrastructure similar to the US-Computer Emergency Readiness Team, but lacks expertise in implementing a management ecosystem to deal with modern cyber-warfare, as well as suitable manpower possessing the specific skillsets and experience to deal with military grade cyber-attacks.
The United States and its strategic defense partners including Great Britain and Israel however have much greater depth in implementing critical control protocols, crisis management infrastructure, and proactive monitoring systems at civilian and military levels. The Department of Homeland Security signed a memorandum of understanding with India last year to promote closer cooperation and timely exchange of information regarding cyber-warfare threats, however there has been little by way of follow up.
India has been on an acquisition spree of late to improve its strategic defense assets, and there is tremendous opportunity at the government-to-government level and for foreign civilian suppliers of military and IT security technology. Both strategic and financial incentives indicate that the United States and its partners should urgently initiate a meeting between USCYBERCOM and the Indian National Security Council to facilitate a credible cyber-warfare deterrent and address mutual electronic security threats in the region.