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WAR IN CYBERSPACE

WAR IN CYBERSPACE

With the Rise in attacks on Information Networks, intelligence
busy preparing new strategies to counter it,


There is a new type of war being fought these days.It does not involve troops,guns,explotions,blood or bodies.Instead,its front line is made up of (mostly)young men and women hunched over computer keyboards,furiously typing out commands to disable the adversary's information networks even before anyone foemaly declares war.

Welcome to the world of cyberwars.Silent and bloodless,but aseffective,sometimes even more,than the real thing.The weapons of this war are unlike anything that has been seen before.It consists of exotic,arcane mathematical modules called algorithms to cancel out the algorithms used by other side.You're unlikely to catch an officer shouting, "These algorithm will advance," but that is pretty much how this war is fought. The machismo is not about muscle--it's more mental,about igngenuity

As a major rising power,India,too,is caught in the midst of a war on its information assets.launched,apparently,by another rising power.A recent Indian Computer Emergency Response Team teport says HACKERS breached indian information networks more than 61 times in April.The recent attack on the ministry of external Affairs website,in which chinese hackers are reported to have got away with useful data,highlights the need to be much better prepared for such snatch-and-grab raids.

This should serve as an important wake-up call.Institute for deffence stadies and analyses (IDSA) resercher Ajey Lele says, "The recent attacks have forced organisations to look at the threat seriously." he goes on to add that security systems even for sensitive sites are far from tamper-proof.

Lele also says users of these site don't realy know what security means in the context of the information war .If someone seds a Virus-laden e-mail,there is no program to filter or moniter it.So the user opens it innocently,not knowing the perils to which he is putting the site.The problem is thus two-fold

Sources close to the hi-tech National Technical Reaearch Organisation,a branch of the Research & Analysis Wing,say that India is planing to protect its data online by developing indigenous expertise in Cryptography (a way of coding data to make it unintelligible to unauthorized persons) and cryptanalysis ( technique of breaking secret messages).

"Separate encription algorithms (a sequence of instructions often used for calculation and data processing) or methods will be used to defend our information networks. They will be developed endogenously to safeguard our information networks," says one source.

Sethu Madhavan, head of the Centre for Cyber Security in Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, says a security analysis report on spear phishing by the Technology Information,Forecasting and Assessment Council's Centre of Relevance and Excellence (TIFAC -CORE) found that HACKERS embed a malicious software(malware) inside a specially created Word document and send it to the target network."When the file is opend, the malware allows unauthorised disclousure of information and disruption of service and gets control of the targeted work station

"The evidence that the attacks orginated from China is based on the e-mail header analysis.As the authorities there control their cyberspaceeffectively, it can be said that these have the tacit blessings of the authorities,"Madhavan says.

CERT-India director Gulshan Rai says,"Among all the different activities being undertaken by the HACKERS all over the world,China is focusing on creating malicious codes,largely for espionage and remote controlling information systems."
A US report says China's high-tech information warfare capabilities will pose strategic and operational problems for India and the West.

Intelligence agencies say China's People's Liberation Army has conducted several field exercises,including the one which 500 soldiers simulated cyberattacks on the telecommunications,electricity,finance and telivition sectors of india, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The report, quoiting Chines defence experts, claims the Chine's task force has prepared plans to cripple the civilian information infrastructure of india, Taiwan, the US, Japan and south Korea.

However, Lete feels the threat from China is exaggerated.He says one can't blame a single country. "China does have a stategy as, like the US and most of the world, it realises the potencial of information technology and using cyberspace for stetegic maneouvres," he says,adding that India needs integrating the three forces, just like the US model

"At present, the army doesn't face a threat from cyberspace as it uses the intranet as the mode of communication.However, one shouldn't be blined to others,"he says.

The Indain army has decided to boost the security of its informationnetworks.Apart from creating cyberv-security organisation down to the division-level to guard against cyber warfare and data theft ,the army brass also underlined the need for "periodic cyber-security Establishment.

IIT Chennai and seven other academic insitutions are working with the national Technical Research Organisation on a keyproject ,Directed Basic Research in smart and Secure Environment. "The goal is to create a distributed test-bed using which new ideas in Cyber defence can be developed", says professor Raghaven, "When an active element such as a router (specialised computers that send your messages and those of very other Internet user speeding to their destinations along thousands of pathways) is compromised, the adversary will attempt to reach other parts of a network through the router.

"It does take some time. Also the attacker may try several active components connected to the compromised one,but succeed in compremising only a few of them.This is what we call Velocity of attack --- it has a direction and travel (spread) speed.

"One of the goals is to come up with identification of compromised routers,for example,and through appropriate means(to be evolved as apart ot the SSE project) couter them," says Raghavan.
However, it is not only india that is facing the heat from Chines Hackers. The hacking menace has resulted in a world-wide anti-China cyber war coalition.Raghavan says that India's joining of the coalition will enable exchange of information the individual teams are able to find throuh their networks.
"Time zones sometimes can be of great help as one country can detect it early and help another in a separate zone to raise its defences," he says.

The attacks on information networks have also raised concerns among several international organisations and the goverments.Professor James J F Forest,the director of the Terrorism studies and Associate professor at the Unaited state Military Academy,feels global networks are facing threats not not only from China but also from Russia,several countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,as well asNorth Korea.
The organisation for Economic cooperation and Developments says, "Over the last 20 years, malware has evolved from occasional "exploits" to a global multi-million-dollar criminal industry.... Cyber criminals are becoming wealther and,therefore,have more financial power to create larger engines of destruction."

This has forced the international Telecommunications Union to work on a Global Cybersecurity Agenda that aims to put into place an international cooperative framework to fullfill the goals of Action Line C5--- cooperation among goverments,prevention,detection and response to cyber-srime, says Alexander Ntoko,head of the corporate strategy division of the ITU,However,Rai says,"The monitoring of the cyberspace is to be done at the country level and there cannot be a globalwatchdog. There are specialised areas and these areas are to be monitored by different agencies having the necessary expertise in those areas."

Forest says,"A global wachdog is the stuff of Hollywood fiction.with all the open source communities and technological advances each year, i just can't see it ever becoming a reality"

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