Everything goes online including the war- An introduction to cyber terrorism, cyber espionage and cyber warfare

Before proceeding further, i would request you to read my previous article in this link so that you can understand this article in better way.A question on based on this topic that was asked in Civil service main 2013. Screenshot of that question is given below.


Cyber Security at MoD

Image copyrighted by UK Ministry of defense under CC 2.0

Basic definitions:

Cyber terrorism: It is the use of information and technology by anyone for their personal motives. Pakistan terrorist may hack an Indian website to gain attention or to access classified information.

Cyber warfare: It is the next generation war. It is the use of Information and technology for political motives of the state . It is a state sponsored war. Why cyber warfare are deadly? Every device is connected to internet.  It is referred by the term called “internet of thing“. Devices that is to the connected to the internet is going to increase exponentially. According to a research organisation, there will be 26 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. Every device becomes smart and intelligent, as there are connected to the Internet. Connecting to the network may give lot of flexibility but at the cost of exposing the critical information to the outside world. Critical areas that face risk of being exploited by cyber warfare or cyber terrorism are Energy sector, Defense sector and  Finance sector.

Cyber espionage or cyber spying: It is the use of Information and technology to access and gather classified documents without permission for personal or political or economic motives.

Information warfare: It is the use of Information and technology to collect information and use it for the advantage of national security. It is simply legal way of collecting information by exploiting technological advancement of the country. It also helps nation in preventing the upcoming terror attacks. It was introduced by US army.

Is India prepared for Cyber warfare?

The answer is nope.India is not ready for cyber war. India is still lagging in  the technical expertise required for handling the latest cyber threats.Now the attack has became sophisticated. India has severe shortage of network experts. In a reply to a RTI question, it was stated that there are only 300 network experts working under all the department of government of India. Annual budget spent by India on cyber security is around $7.7 million dollars while US spends around $100 million dollar on cyber security. This clearly shows the complete ignorance of India in cyber security. They may have underestimated the risks or may have overestimated their capacity.

Risks associated with Cyber warfare and cyber terrorism:

  •  Classified information associated with critical sectors such as defense, finance and energy are at risk of being intercepted by mass surveillance programs and by cyber espionage.
  • Websites providing E governance service are at the risk of being hacked and hence results in denial of services to the concerned users.
  • If classified information is leaked, it will be used for military strategy.  Hence, it is similar to inside attack which is the worst nightmare for the national security.

India’s stand on cyber security:

As we have discussed earlier, India is not ready for cyber war as it lacks expertise in the field. In the following passage we will discuss the strategy of India with respect to cyber security.

  • India released National cyber policy on the month of July of 2013 due to the pressure created due to Edward Snowden’s disclosure of NSA’s surveillance program. It is aimed to create safe cyber space for ordinary citizen and government officials.
  • National cyber policy,2013 proposes the formation of National Cyber Coordination Centre which will helps india in intelligence gathering and hence it is aimed to prevent cyber attack by screening the metadata of all types of electronic communication.
  • National cyber policy,2013(NCP) also proposes the formation of National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) which will be responsible for the security of Critical data of defense,finance and energy sector.Before this policy,CERT-IN (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) was responsible for the security of critical data along with being a nodal agency to handle cyber threats in India.
  • NCP,2013 also proposes to create 5 lakh skilled professionals in IT in next 5 years

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Internet censorship in India.

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Image credits: Brian J Matls and it is copyrighted under CC 2.0

This article will be useful for mains(GS4-Information technology). Why again internet censorship? Even a week ago, 32 famous sites including Daily motion, Vimeo and Github were blocked to avoid the spread of Jihahid Propaganda by ISIS. Netizens and Internet rights activists condemned this move. After all, India is a democratic country. Our constitution provides us freedom of speech and expression. Those sites were used by normal people too. You can’t block the entire site, if someone spreads derogatory or messages that promotes terrorism. Of course, Terrorism has to be curbed but not at the cost of grabbing ordinary citizen’s right. Internet censorship has been implemented for several reasons in India. Lets discuss some of them in brief.

1. Piracy

It is the one of the common reasons cited by the government to block many file sharing sites. Until now, more than 100 file sharing sites have been blocked in India due to Piracy.

2. National Security

Cyber terrorism is becoming more harmful threat for national security. Now,Terrorists are using Sophisticated technology in terror attacks. What actually is Cyber terrorism? It is not well defined but the broader definition of them deals with usage of Information and Technology for disturbing the National Integrity and Sovereignty. Why cyber terrorism is a threat to national security?In the modern Era, Everything from your personal computer to military network is connected to Internet or outside world. Any one can use them for achieving their personal or political objectives. They can also spread hatred message or rumors that can disturb the communal balance in India through internet. They can instill fear in our mind though cyber attacks. We can discuss about cyber terrorism in Separate article soon(because we are diverting fro our topic).

3. Hate speech

Here comes the soul of our topic. This is the most controversial part of the Internet censorship. Many youngsters are arrested in recent year due to hatred speech in social media. Government not only removes their message but also arrests them under 66A of Information Technology Act. What does this act deals with? What 66A of this act deals with? Information technology act was enacted in 2000 to deal with cyber crimes(Cyber crimes are crimes that are done with the help of any device or technology). As Information technology act,2000 covers only little cyber crimes. They are amended in 2008 to cover more cyber crimes. One of the provisions that included in the amended was 66A which deals with sending or posting Hatred, Defamatory, Derogatory, False,Annoying , Inconvenient, Misleading and Grossly offensive messages with the use of computing device or communication devices.Anyone does the above thing are liable to prosecution and may get imprisonment  up to 3 years with fine. Why this provision is controversial? Many internet rights activists see 66A of IT act as unconstitutional and they claim 66A brags their freedom of speech. Following is the screenshot of this provision.


SC rulings on 66A: Many PIL has been filed with supreme court and they plead to declare 66A as arbitrary and Unconstitutional since there are many vague terms in this provision such as Grossly offensive or menacing character. In march 2014, SC has ruled no person can be arrested under 66A without the permission of a officer who is not under the rank of inspector general of police. It ruled to prevent the misuse of the act. Few months after this rulings, another bench of SC also favored internet activists by ruling that the person cannot be arrested under 66A for the sole reason of message causing Inconvenience or message is annoying.

According to Facebook transparency report,4960 contents have be restricted in Facebook from January 2014 to June 2014 due to the request of the Indian government. That makes the India rank number one in Facebook censorship.

4. Pornography

Recently, A PIL has been filed on the supreme court to block porn sites. The case is pending, It seems that the government is serious about blocking porn sites. Someone consider this as an active move as it will decrease the rape rates as the can claim more sex offence are due to watching porn. Some other people may see this as negative move. According to some experts, Government has double standards on this issue because government is considering for legalization and regulation of prostitution on the other hand it plans to block porn sites. Still now, no site has been banned due to pornography.In India watching adult pornography is legal while distributing it is illegal and watching and distributing child pornography is illegal. So they don’t have legal sanction to block porn sites.


Is 66A justified?

Of course, it is justified. But, In order to prevent misuse of the act, precise definition of the act is needed. interpret ion of this provision should be done based on the Court’s guidelines. Till now court has not framed any guidelines, so it would be better, if court has framed guidelines. Freedom of speech like any other right has some restrictions. Our freedom of speech should not contempt court’s order, disturb the communal balance, disturb India’s international relations,defame anyone, incite any offence, disturb the integrity and sovereignty of India and it should be decent and derogate any one’s character. Critical analysis of some one cannot be taken as hatred speech. As we are living in democratic country, we do have rights to tell our opinion without infringing other’s rights.

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