China’s Cyber War with India : A Challenge !

1. Protecting the network of information and infrastructure facilities is a challenge being faced by the country

China has realised that it is not easy to defeat India in a military war. Therefore, it tries to shut down India’s critical information and infrastructure sectors through cyber attacks. Preventing these attacks and protecting the country’s information is a huge challenge for India. A news report in a US newspaper, said that China attacked Mumbai’s energy grid. As a result, the power supply was cut off for 12 hours. The statements that followed this news were astonishing. India’s Energy Minister RK Singh said the attack had taken place; however, we cannot say for sure who did it. The incident could not prove a direct link with China.

The State’s Energy Minister did not say anything different. He said, there was a risk; however, it was successfully retaliated. Such a lame response was given by the Centre and State.

2. It is difficult to prove involvement in a cyber crime; therefore, it is impossible to openly accuse China

Everyone knows that China attacked India; however, India cannot say this openly. Also, it is easy to accuse but difficult to prove. China has outsourced all these things. Their ‘hackers’ are in different regions or in different countries. Therefore, even if we catch a ‘hacker’, it is not easy to link him to China. Such work is handled by a third party. Because of this, it takes many years to find the main culprit. Legal cases in the 1993 Mumbai bombings are not yet over. China is well aware that it is very difficult to find the real mastermind. This is why, China is launching such cyber attacks against other countries. However, China is also vulnerable and cyber ​attacks are also taking place against China.

3. India’s cyber security system is vigilant; hence, it protects the country’s network from Chinese attacks

90% of attacks against India are from China; 5 to 6% of attacks are from Pakistan and the remaining 2-4% are from others. Of course, the attacks from other countries are conducted with the intention of stealing and they generally want to steal some intellectual property. Indian CERT (Cyber ​ Emergency Response Team) has protected India’s network from most of China’s cyber attacks. Secondly, the National Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee is also doing a very good job. As a result, China has not been able to shut down India’s systems for a long period.

4. China’s attempt to threaten India’s energy sector with Chinese equipment installed in the energy sector

Earlier, India had BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited) in the energy sector, which used to manufacture the necessary machines or generators for the country. China systematically shut down BHEL. Since then, Chinese equipments have been widely used in India’s energy sector. India has stopped buying Chinese equipment over the last 4 to 5 years; however, the equipments bought earlier have not yet reached the end of their utility and a few more years are left. So, they are still in use. These equipments have Chinese ‘Trojan horses’ (viruses). Through these, China can shut down our systems any time. In the past, China’s newspapers, the ‘Global Times’ warned India openly that ‘if you do not act as per our wishes, we can activate these Trojan Horses. We still have the codes. This will endanger your energy sector’. China is proving this to be true. Soon after the news of Mumbai grid failure came, news from Telangana also trickled in. Attempts were also made to attack energy equipment there; however, CERT was able to control it in time.

5. India should also launch cyber attacks on China to demonstrate India’s potential

After these incidents, there was news that there were attacks even on India’s vaccine producing factories. It is possible that they stole the vaccine formula. CERT is working tirelessly to protect India from China’s cyber attacks. Even then, the enemy can often succeed in achieving their goals. Therefore, India needs to take aggressive action against China. Are we taking such action ? There is no information on this in the open domain.

According to a global organization, China’s infrastructure is the most attacked in the world. While this is true, it has not caused much harm to China. The attacks were conducted by the United States, Israel and Japan.

Arya Chanakya had said that the enemy of the enemy is our friend ! Similarly, by having agreements with these countries, we should also launch intense attacks on China. If China attacks India’s energy sector, India should also attack China’s energy sector. If China tries to steal our vaccine formula, we should steal their intellectual property too. Of course, this is a very big challenge. Since we are far behind China, it will take time to catch up. There is no time to create a virus and use it to fight the Chinese virus. Therefore, we need to strengthen our defense system by cooperating with some countries such as Japan, Taiwan or European countries. The important thing is to demonstrate our ability to attack China.

6. In the cyber war against China, every Indian’s contribution is required !

After the news of attack on Mumbai, there should have been a news report in the ‘Global Times’ that China has also been attacked. Of course, despite doing all this, one should be able to deny any hand outright. The way it is difficult for us to protect our systems from cyber attacks, it is a big challenge for China as well. We need to retaliate against China, not once, but every time there is an attack from China.

China is an uncontrollable country. It would continue to try to damage India in every way possible. India needs to carry out ‘surgical strikes’ in the ‘cyber domain’ from time to time. For this, we need to augment our capability against cyber attacks at a rapid pace. India is very good in the field of software; however, we are still lagging behind in field of hardware.

When there is a war, it is bound to harm to us, as every battle cannot be won. China could not defeat India in Galwan; therefore, it is trying to fight us in the field of technology. Every Indian citizen must contribute in this cyber war.

– (Retd.) Brigadier Hemant Mahajan, Pune