The recent incidents that have indicated that the Chinese Government is behind attacks on the Indian Prime Minsiter’s Office, trying to steal sensitive information is yet another indication that China poses a serious risk to the Global order through its pursuance of the “Cyber Super Power” doctrine.

It is now revealed that in the attack on Google, China appears to have exploited a vulnerability in Internet Explorer which enabled a remote code execution.

In this context, we need to recall that in 2003, China forced Microsoft to part with its OS source code to the Chinese Government in order to run its business in China. It now appears that Chinese Government could have  misused the trust placed on it by Microsoft by running an organized hacking research on the basis of the knowledge it must have gained by having the access to the Windows source code.

It is not clear if Adobe has also shared any part of its application source code with the Chinese Government since exploitation of Adobe application is also alleged in some of the attacks emanating from China.

We can now therefore expect that the global information community is in grave danger due to the possible exploitation of windows and adobe products by the Chinese Government.

Adobe’s PDF is almost the global document standard just as much as what Windows OS is to the OS market. While the intention of sharing the source code with the Chinese Government by the software giants was in fact acceptable from the point of view of the security of Chinese soverign interest, it is unfortunate that the Chinese Government could have betrayed the trust imposed on them.

If it is proved that the Chinese Government used the privileged access it gained to the source code to plan and execute exploits, Microsoft must be regretting its decision for having handed over its OS to a master hacker. Now China is even in a position to just push Microsoft out of the market by pirating the entire Windows software itself.

It is also necessary to remember that Chinese suppliers of Credit Card swiping machines to UK have been caught having doctored the microchips so that copies of Credit card information are sent to Chinese hackers. We have also seen Chinese intrusion into Indian IT companies through which they have planted key loggers to steal information from World Bank.

If one takes a comprehensive look at these developments, and also observe how China is flooding the global market with computer hardware manufactured in China, one gets a feeling that Chinese Cyber Spies are already well entrenched in the globe. We donot know if backdoors exist in laptops of chinese origin either to disable the computers on a remote call or extract information from the computer from time to time.

India is aware of the exploits of China in Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladak and other areas in its borders where they show scant regard to the accepted international norms of behaviour.

As security experts point out, China has a specific road map  to dominate the Cyber World and is therefore working overtime to become a champion in Cyber Wars. The developments appear to be similar to the ambitions that Hitler pursued before the Second World War.

Even US may not be able to counter this development unless there is a global alliance of democratic countries to fight the rogue state that China is developing into.

We therefore need to develop a comprehensive Cyber Security Strategy to meet the threat of Cyber Warfare from China. Since the threat is global, India should take the lead in developing a Global Cyber Safety Alliance against Chinese Cyber Aggression.

As a part of this strategy, India should move for isolation of China from Cyber Space by working thorugh ICANN so that China is prevented from tapping into any Internet data from outside its borders without surveillance from the global alliance.

The alliance should also put appropriate checks on imports of hardware from China and employment of Chinese nationals in IT firms so that all forms of hardware, software and people oriented risks likely to emanate from China are monitored and mitigated.

While I do admire the ingenuity of China to safeguard its interests for which they have every right, what is objectionable is its aggressive tendencies to encroach on the freedom of other countries.  I consider that it is the right of other countries to defend themselves and when it is suspected that China has been supporting “State sponsored Cyber Attacks” on other nationals, the response has to be in the form of a counter strategy by a global alliance. The time appears to be ripe for the formation of such an alliance under the leadership of India.

The first step in this direction is for the Indian Govenment to register a case of Cyber Terrorism for the attack on the PMO’s office, pursue its investigation and demand support from Chinese Government.

I urge Mr Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister to take the lead and develop a “Strategy to protect Indian Cyber Space from Chinese Aggression”.

I also urge CERT-In to assure the Indian Cyber Society with an appropriate action plan to protect Indian Cyber Space from possible Chinese Intrusion.

Probably Mr Shashi Tharoor should be placed in special charge of this assignment under a separate ministry of “Indian Cyber Space Security”.

Naavi

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