Indian law enforcement and national security officials are drawing up plans that will give them technology capabilities to cut off all internet services during emergencies.
Officially, these steps are aimed at protecting Indian infrastructure from cyber attacks, but analysts fear that this may lead to greater government controls over internet as in China.
The possibility of the Centre taking charge of the internet during emergencies and cyber wars were discussed at a recent meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office
” China has been able to establish controls which enable it to choke the internet at will. The number of vulnerabilities in cyber space could be reduced by ensuring that closed loop information systems are not connected to the internet,” said the minutes of this meet
The model similar to that of China is being explored where key government departments work together on cyber space related issues with a long term vision.
A move to make many networks closed group and not connected with internet is also being explored.
Non possession of full web gateway control has resulted in economic losses for governments in past.
So because loss of access to the Internet can have negative results, the solution is to get rid of access to the Internet?
The Centre also attempting to map the cyber assets of adversaries (like Pakistan and China) amongst others so that India can retaliate and also launch offensive cyber operations against these nations when subject to an attack.
While the council’s conclusion may be worrisome for the public, it’s good news for the intelligence agencies—and also perhaps for a cash-strapped government forced to reassess its defense priorities. On the basis of the report, the U.K.’s spooks have been promised an extra $760 million to beef up cyberspace operations.
Britain’s reprioritizing of cyberdefense comes not a moment too soon.
Attacks on computer infrastructures have already proven to be quite effective: in 2007, Russia allegedly used cyberwar tactics to disrupt neighboring Estonia
Bruce Schneier has likened the Estonia attack to an invading army clogging the lines at the motor vehicles administration. This is hardly “effective” enough to warrant an increase in cybersecurity funding while the rest of defense is slashed, including the elimination of naval airpower altogether, and while higher education is slashed by 40%.
Iran revealed that its nuclear program had been severely disrupted by the Stuxnet computer virus, possibly a plant by Israel.
And if the Iranian government said, then it must be true? Why are journalists so willing to buy the Iranian story about Stuxnet?
Yet however grim the report, it may turn out to be a timely boon for Cameron’s government. Faced with a massive budget deficit, the prime minister is set to announce widespread cuts in public spending today—and the defense department has not been spared the ax. As part of a separate review of defense policy, Cameron announced a package of cuts Tuesday that will see the Army lose 7,000 personnel over five years, as well as 40 percent of its tanks and 35 percent of its heavy artillery. That’s not counting further reductions in the Royal Air Force and Navy. Selling these cuts to voters will be easier if the public can be persuaded that the real danger to Britain can’t be countered by conventional shells and bullets.
I’ve suspected for some time now that, rhetorically, this might be what’s going on, that this might be why defense budget cutters like SecDef Gates are on board with new spending on a new threat. Yes, we might be seeing huge increases in cybersecurity spending. But those increases are a drop in the bucket compared to spending on traditional weapons. So, folks like Gates (and Cameron too) can take a hatchet to defense budgets but still appear to strong on defense.
There’s also an element of “future-now” syndrome happening here. If you don’t want to think about the future, or don’t like the conclusions when you do, then pick your current favorite threat and call it “the future of warfare.” This sounds like a case of defining the future to justify what we want or can afford instead of assessing threats objectively and then planning to counter them.