[Model Answer QP2021 GS3]Keeping in view India’s internal security, analyse the impact of cross-border cyber attacks. Also discuss defensive measures against these sophisticated attacks.

The Power ministry said a “Chinese state-sponsored group Red Echo” was targeting the Indian power sector’s “Regional Load Dispatch Centres (RLDCs) along with State Load Dispatch Centres (SLDCs)” through a malware called “Shadow Pad”.
The ministry claimed all threats had been thwarted due to early warnings from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MEITy’s) Cyber Emergency Response Team-In (India) (CERT-in), and the NTRO’s National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC).
India faced over 2.12 lakh cybersecurity incidents in January-February 2022 alone. In the year 2021, there were more than 14.02 lakh incidents recorded by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).

The impact of cross-border cyber attacks:

1. Compromise state security through attacks on critical national infrastructure, including health and energy facilities.
2. “Disrupt social harmony through radicalisation”: Terrorists have used social media to plan and execute terror attacks and for “virulent propaganda” to incite hatred and violence, recruit youth and raise funds
3. Dangers from malware that can “create potential flashpoints between states”
There are widespread concerns that state and non-state actors are introducing vulnerabilities and harmful hidden functions, including through backdoor channels, into ICT networks and products.
4. Democracies:  “open societies have been particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns”

Defensive measures against these sophisticated attacks:

1. The Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG), set up by the General Assembly in 2018,on developments in ICT (OEWG) should be leveraged to find further common ground and improve upon the already agreed cyber norms and rules
2. VPN providers in the country are also being checked by CERT-In via new rules that require VPN service providers. 
3. The government is mulling setting up a specialised Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) to tackle threats to critical infrastructure.
4. Companies report incidents of cybercrime within six hours.
5. A log of Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems is required to be kept by all government bodies and service providers such as data centres. Data needs to be securely stored for a rolling period of 180 days within the Indian jurisdiction, as per CERT-In.

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