Cyberwarfare is a type of network- or computer-based conflict in which one
nation-state targets another nation-state with politically motivated attacks.
Nation-state actors engage in these types of attacks in an effort to obstruct
the operations of organisations or nation-states, particularly for tactical,
military, or cyberespionage reasons. Cyber attacks performed by state actors
and/or target nation states.
It is the acts taken by a nation-state or international organisation to attack
and try to harm the computers or information networks of another country using
things like computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks, among other things.
The world has undergone a significant change over the last decade with respect
to the internet's original strategy and simplicity.The most valuable commodity
in today's market is information, and the value of intellectual property has
been increasing yearly. The nation states have been actively working to
undermine one another in order to progress individually. In the early stages of
development, servers and highly skilled cyberwarriors who are prepared to
paralyse a target with a single keyboard are being used in a new kind of arena
Financial institutions, military stations, research centres,
and infrastructure systems, such as those for power, water, and transportation,
are just a few examples of large-scale targets within nations. There are
emerging types of conflict, such as cyberwarfare1, in which countries employ
strategies to remotely impair an adversary's data and communication
infrastructure. Countries are attempting to access foreign countries' databases
illegally. A nation can use technology to obliterate an enemy state's energy
supplies, data networks, and transportation system by conducting database
The use of computers and technology for intelligence-gathering activities to
strengthen one side's advantage over the other or to keep a close eye on an
enemy from locations that were previously impossible without being physically
present within the target's borders, company, or household is expanding as this
new front in warfare does.
With the development of cyberwarfare strategies, any technical equipment is now
susceptible to being weaponized.
The number of attacks will rise as the complexity of cyberweapons continues to
rise given the ubiquity of technology's incorporation into every aspect of our
existence. as protective methods are created by analysing data gathered from
hacks and through research. It will find crucial information that would reveal
how earlier penetrations' exposed vulnerabilities were used to to efficient
strategies to fend off upcoming assaults.
The ongoing struggle for dominance
over territory and limited resources, which is increasingly occurring beyond the
purview of a state, is reflected in the histories of the majority of nations.
Sensitive national databases have frequently had security breaches, including
those in India, Japan, South Korea, the United States of America ("US"), and
other countries. Their networks are regularly compromised.
This might cause a
national emergency, which could expose the country to attacks from more
traditional sources such an army, air force, or naval strike. When the nations'
electrical grids are shut down, communication networks are disrupted, and an
enemy state has access to crucial data about army, air force, and navy bases and
their capabilities, a formal, conventional attack will be considerably easier.
Any country could face a possible apocalypse scenario.
Since 2000–2001, it has been claimed that Chinese and Pakistani cybercriminals
have replaced the original material on Indian websites. India's cyber menace is
constantly in danger from the cyber warriors of other G-20 developing and
developed militaries as well as from terrorist groups that are hostile to India.
India is about to see a catastrophic cyber-collapse.
Chinese cyber warriors
frequently assault its official computers and government buildings. According to
a recent report, India does not have a single entity responsible for domestic
internet law enforcement. A further hindrance to India's goal of achieving Asian
supremacy is the seldom coordination between its armed forces and intelligence
services, which prevents swift and effective action from being conducted in a
concrete and effective manner.
Cyber attacks under International Law
The classification of information warfare and its characteristics have generated
more debate than the nature of cyberattacks. Through unconventional techniques,
this warfare causes total upheaval in the cybersphere and results in
"non-combat" fatalities. Big powers with advanced technology, including the USA
and Russia, have theorised cyberattacks by equating them to nuclear assaults.
Since there isn't a complete treaty that addresses all the different facets of
cyberattacks, other international treaties need to be taken into account.
Cybertools cannot be prohibited or made illegal on a global scale in the same
way that biological or nuclear weapons are. This challenge results from the
complexity of the computer-based codes used, which are so similar to innocent
computer codes as to be undetectable. This essay continues with collaborating
with treaty systems that may have been a realistic option, pertinently linked to
Space Law and the Antarctic Treaty System, in an effort to outlaw such weapons.
The authorities, treaties, etc. for regulating nuclear weapons are pertinent
here. For instance, in 1994, the United Nations General Assembly asked the
International Court of Justice (hereafter the ICJ) to provide a ruling on the
legality of the use of nuclear weapons by adversarial nations.
The Court held
the view that "such use of nuclear weapons shall be harmful to the application
of international law as applicable to armed conflict and in particular with
reference to international humanitarian Law." As was already indicated, the
catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons may be comparable to those of a cyber
strike, have the ability to overlap with established information technology
mechanisms, and may even result in the destruction of vital areas of national
There are some limitations of International Law such as:
- Current International law does not adequately protect private companies
- DoD Law of War-Requires certainly that non-combatants will not be injured or
killed is required prior to use of lethal force outside of areas of active
- Does not specify protections for privacy nor identity of non-combatants.
- Tallinn Manual (Schmitt, 2013)- Drafted by UN International Group of
Experts to represent law as it exists and applies to cyber warfare.
How well is India prepared?
Cyber terrorism is a growing threat to global security. With a few commands from
thousands of miles away a miscreant can easily bring an entire nation to a halt.
All important elements of the nation's infrastructure can be compromised. The
main objective of cyber terrorists today is to cripple the infrastructure and
countries need to be prepared to tackle these attacks, an influential based
think tank, the international institute for strategic studies recently assessed
cyber capabilities of 15 countries and it listed India in tier 3 which means it
has potential strengths but significant weaknesses.
Countries like U.S.A., U.K.,
Canada, Israel however have better cyber security strategies. Also the report
exposes China by saying its cyber power is at least a decade behind the U.S.A.
While China likes to project itself to be an emerging cyber superpower it still
has a lot of catching up to do. Another recent report by the United Nations
portrays that India has entered the top 10 of a global security ranking of
countries ahead of China at number 33 and Pakistan at number 79.
improved its ranking from 47 to 10 in the United Nations ITU Global Cyber
Security agenda while this news is heartening there's always room for
improvement in 2020 India witnessed around 1.16 million cases of cyber attacks
more than three times compared to the figures are alarming as stated by the
India's Foreign Secretary had to say at the UN Security Council Debate recently.
Some states are leveraging their expertise in cyberspace to achieve their
political and security related objectives and indulge in contemporary forms of
cross border terrorism. There has been sharp increase in Chinese activity
against Indian networks and this has heightened India's concern about IT
Now, the question is how can India counter cyber threats:
- Experts believe that India needs to have a security operations
center (SOC) in all states. ASOC shall monitor data moving across networks on critical
infrastructure of a given state.
- Along with SOC on a state level we should certainly have centralized
Security Operations Center which should have an integrated feed from
state level security operation also security operation centers of banks
and other key assets should be integrated with a centralised security center, it will help detect and
prevent threats quickly and more efficiently.
- The government needs to have multiple data centers in different
states and moreover the should re-route the traffic dynamically, this
could confuse potential hackers and reduce the chances of attacks.
- India needs to set up more honey pots, it is an effective defense
strategy. Honeypot is a trap machine which looks like a real system. It's set up with
vulnerabilities to in order to lower attackers. The aim of the honeypot is to
analyze and track the behavior of hackers in order to create more security
- The nation needs a cohesive nationwide strategy. Cyber security
powers are currently spread across a number of agencies. This, sometimes
leads to overlapping competencies and bureaucratic turf wars creating
loopholes in the system and it's hackers who could benefit from it.
In short, when it comes to cyber security India needs to become agile and more
proactive in terms of protection. Last year, The largest global ransomware
attack on record was reportedly a hack on the American IT company Kaseya.
According to reports, hackers want $70 million to restore the data.
Unfortunately, cyberattacks are not limited to just one nation; this time, an
American corporation has been attacked. There have been a lot of high-profile
ransomware outbreaks in many countries.
Cybercriminals are attacking the vital
IT infrastructure of many businesses and nations by taking advantage of
vulnerabilities. It is obvious that cyberspace is the new battleground and that
cyberattacks are the new generation of weaponry. We examine which nations have
stronger cyber capabilities than others as well as India's readiness to engage
in cyberwarfare with adversaries.
One such well known example of cyber warfare
was the joint American and Israeli Stuxnet attack on a rams nuclear program in
2009 and 2010. It was a type of software known as a worm, it was introduced into
a rands nuclear power stations on a USB memory stick. It explored the power
stations networks looking for a specific weaknesses, once it found them it
altered how key systems operated and led to the failure of critical components.
One year later an altered version of the same virus was found to be targeting
organizations in Europe. There is no suggestion that these were military attacks
instead, it is believed that the virus was reverse engineered by cyber criminals
and then used to gather and transmit important financial information the virus
was engineered to self destruct after 36 days leaving no trace of what it had
done cyber warfare attacks can disable financial and organizational systems.
They can access transmit and alter classified data to undermine networks
websites and services.
Types of Cyberware Attacks
As more and more of a country's vital services are connected to the internet,
the possibility of cyberwarfare strikes increases. Even if these systems are
effectively guarded, hackers hired by nation-states to uncover and exploit
vulnerabilities may still be able to access them. attacks that are prevalent in
cyberwarfare include the following:
Destabilization Governments have recently come under attack by
cybercriminals through essential infrastructure, including things like financial
systems, electricity grids, water supplies, dams, and hospitals. The
manufacturing sector is becoming more vulnerable to external dangers as a result
of the deployment of the internet of things.
Destabilizing crucial digital infrastructure harms essential contemporary
services or processes from a national security standpoint. For instance, a
cyberattack on the electrical grid might have grave repercussions for the
business, industrial, and private sectors.
Sabotage The use of cyber assaults to compromise government computer
systems can aid conventional combat operations. These attacks have the potential
to compromise digital networks, disrupt official government communications,
allow for the theft of crucial intelligence, and endanger national security.
For instance, state-sponsored or military-sponsored assaults may target military
databases to gather details on troop movements and the deployment of weapons and
Data theft Hackers of computer systems steal information that can be utilised for intelligence purposes, held for ransom, sold, or even destroyed.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) keeps track of
economic crimes involving losses of more than $1 million, as well as
cyberattacks against government institutions, defence, and high-tech firms. Many
of the recorded cyber incidents in CSIS timelines going back to 2006 include
hacking and data theft from nation-states.
Effects of Cyber Warfare
This cyberwarfare has resulted in death and physical destruction. Without
dropping a bomb or firing a shot, these strikes have stunned and paralysed the
country and generated a profound new sense of vulnerability.
The following are some effects of cyberwarfare:
- Disrupt Essential Government Services
The function of identities and social practises is currently a problem for the international system. Cyberwarfare
might impair vital government functions including electricity, healthcare, and
banking services in today's socially connected society.
- Influence on Stock Rates
A cyber-attack may cause the bank balances to
become zero. Furthermore, if data is leaked by hackers, stock prices may change.
Large losses could result from this, but some people might also win since they
could purchase equities for less money.
- Disrupt Transportations
Hackers may try to take over or interfere with
workstations and servers at airports and train stations. Train and aeroplane
delays, aviation and rail traffic congestion, and other types of prolonged
delays could result from this.
- Conflicts Among Nations
Cyberwarfare is causing international conflicts to
develop. Cyberwarfare has the potential to be both aggressive and defensive.
Numerous cybercriminals are gathering data and dealing with buying and selling
this sensitive information to the highest bidder without concern for the
repercussions. National security could be at risk worldwide as a result of this
- Influencing Opinions
Cyberwarfare affects not just the management of
information but also the creation of public opinion. Even terrorist groups are
using this media, making the Internet an open door for evil.
One nation can increase its position by weakening others through cyberwarfare.
Furthermore, this makes it challenging to comprehend if such particular
behaviours could be regarded as an act of war.
- Impact on Private Sector
Cyberwarfare has not only weakened the government
sector but also resulted in highly negative impacts on the private sector. The
world faces millions of cyberwarfare in a day but all of these get unnoticed as
it receives less media attention.
An information era was launched with the growth of the internet and related
protocols like the World Wide Web (WWW), bringing with it many benefits
including improved communication, quick access to information, suitable
commercial transactions, etc. But these same technologies have also given rise
to sophisticated criminal behaviours like online fraud and cyberstalking, among
They added a new dimension to the art of combat as well. Many believe
that catastrophic cyberattacks are likely to occur in the future as a result of
the continually increasing size of cyberattacks. Attacks currently happen on a
national scale, therefore it is conceivable that a digital epidemic may result
in attacks that shut down entire economies. Cyber offence and defence strategies
will describe the future Internet for business and individual users in the same
way as it becomes intertwined with national security.
Now considered to be the
fifth sphere of conflict, cyberspace Governments take a more serious stance on cybersecurity issues in response to the growing threat of cyberattacks, and they
are consolidating the acceptance of a range of defensive measures, including
technology, policy, and increased international cooperation. Users are
increasingly vulnerable to assaults as the digital network becomes entwined with
everything from light bulbs to health care. Business models will depend more and
more on unified data and its analysis as well as data sources, increasing the
number of attack vectors.
Users fundamentally need to have faith that the businesses and government
entities collecting and using their data are reliable and will effectively
handle cybersecurity threats if they want the open Internet to continue to
function as a platform for social and economic growth. The Internet should be
recognised as a platform that promotes peace and aids governments and
organisations in developing new standards and secure infrastructures to begin
cyber peace making, as opposed to being a platform for cyberwarfare.
Written By: Dhanya Airen