The Indian Air force which was established on 8th October 1932 and  is celebrating the Air force day today. The developments in technology in Aviation Engineering and Weaponry have brought about significant changes in the warfare technology since the day the Air force was born. These challenges are being met with necessary technology import and indigenous development. However the new dimension in warfare which has been added recently is the “Information Warfare” or “Cyber Warfare”.

The critical dependence of the current day warfare on “Electronics” is well known. The electronic gadgets use Information as the raw material and unless this is secured, there is a huge risk in a technology led war. A couple of year’s back Indian Air force considered these risks and set up a task force to address the issues. Hopefully substantial developments might have taken place in the Information Management systems managed by the air force though this information is not available on the public domain.

The emphasis of the Air force Security 2020 is conventionally on buying better aircrafts to meet the fleets of our neighbors. While this is an absolute necessity, it should be recognized that “Security is as strong as its weakest link” and the functioning of the Aircraft attack system is only as good as the electronic information support system. If the enemy can corrupt the computer system which hosts the intelligence system or other support information, the pilot may be fed with wrong and misleading information which can frustrate the attack plan. Similarly the defense systems may be diverted away from where they are critically required. These risks are not new nor unknown. What is required is to ensure that enough weightage is given to the risk and sufficient investments planned in Information Security. However the vision statement in the Air force does not seem to provide the required emphasis on the Information Security.

Further strategically, is it the concern of Air force or the entire defense establishment to protect the information system backing the Indian defense is a point to consider. If it is an equal concern of the Navy and the Army, then Cyber Space security command should be a common command that protects all wings of the defense system. Also the threat to National Cyber space can arise from any private computer and hence the Cyber Crime prevention network and private sector IT security should also be considered as part of the National Security. The National Cyber Space command should therefore device a mechanism for integrating the Information security systems of the Individual and Corporate type into one single National Cyber Security Force.

Are we in India ready for a centralized Cyber Space Security Command? Does the aggregation of Cyber Crime Police Stations across the country provide for an umbrella arrangement under which a national Cyber security blanket can be drawn? Does the Private Sector have a role to  shield its own little little pieces of cyber space? are some of the issues that will be discussed in the proposed one day seminar on “Vision for National Cyber Security Force” proposed to be held at Atria Hotel, Bangalore on October 17, 2007. The programme is being organized by Digital Society Foundation, Computer Society of India, RV College of Engineering and ITPF. (Delegate form available here)


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