On Friday night this week, the Indian armed forces were attacked by cyber crooks. The cyber wings of the tri-services issued warning to defence personnel to not access the mail titled- ‘Notice’. “A Phishing email with subject as ”Notice” containing a hyperlink named HNQ Notice File.xls download is being sent out to the defence personnel specifically from the email ID, “firstname.lastname@example.org,” reads the emergency warning issued to the personnel.
As these cyber-attacks are coming through mail extension of gov.in, the defence personnel could be easily misled into thinking that the mail is from government officials. According to senior officers, these cyber-attacks are originating from China or Pakistan, and the frequency of such attacks has increased in recent times. “Our cyber units are on high alert as such attacks have increased in recent times,” said an official.
Pakistani Intelligence officials use a number of foreign countries to target the Indian defence personnel, including the retired members of the armed forces.
The major targets of Pakistan Intelligence Operatives are to extract information about exchange operatives, adjutants of various units, and even former servicemen, reported the news agency IANS.
Last month, participating in India’s annual defence expo in Lucknow, defence minister- Rajnath Singh said that India must be equipped with modern warfare techniques of the Information age like- Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain technologies, and Big data.
“As we all are aware, the character of warfare is changing and therefore, in this information age, the challenge is not just to prepare for contingencies but also to repel threats from multiple sources, and at the same time possess the ability to respond proactively if needed,” said Singh.
In September this year, the government established a specialized Defence Cyber Agency under the leadership of Navy Officer Rear Admiral Mohit Gupta. The initiative is set to help India shield its Armed forces and defence information on cyber platforms from hackers, mostly from China and Pakistan.
DCA is one of the three agencies that the Prime Minister announced in the Conference in Jodhpur last year. The DCA will help the armed forces for tackling threats in the cyber domain. It will also have assistance from the DRDO, according to the sources.
The original plan for these agencies was provided by the Chiefs of Staff Committee which is the authority for advising the Defence Minister on all military matters. The plan was proposed way back in 2012 and it provided for envisaged commands to be headed by army commander equivalents. The plan was put on hold for all these years since 2012.
Defence Cyber Agency (DCA) has 1,000 personnel distributed across Army, Navy and Air Force. The focus of these people will be on non-civilian cyber threats including that of critical infrastructure. DCA will work in close coordination with the National Cyber Security Advisor.
Indian Armed forces are preparing themselves for the future. According to the defence sources, almost on a daily basis, efforts are being made by the hackers to break into the military system to steal information. There is a threat of two-front wars if China and Pakistan decide to come together. For all practical reasons, Pakistan has become a colony of China in recent years.