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Cyber Warfare And Its Impact

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 for superiority.

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 attacks.

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 importance.

There are some limitations of International Law such as:

  • Current International law does not adequately protect private companies or citizens.
  • 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 hostilities.
  • 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.

The country 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 Security.

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 systems.
  • 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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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 equipment.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 action.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 others.

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

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