by Rishabh Shukla
“Cyber terrorism could also become more attractive as the real and virtual worlds become more closely coupled” – Dorothy Dennings
Some of the most misunderstood and confusing terms in Cyber laws are Cyber-terrorism, cybercrime, and cyber warfare. The difference between them is not known by masses which often leads to miscommunication of information. Cybercrimes are crimes conducted in cyberspace, and cyber warfare means actions by a nation-state to penetrate other nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruptions[i], still, the term cyber-terrorism has a different take. Dorothy Denning, a professor of computer science gave one of the best definitions of cyber-terrorism to ever exist, defining Cyber terrorism as “The convergence of cyberspace and terrorism.
The main essence of the word includes all the unlawful attacks as well as the threat of committing such attacks against the computers in order to compel the government or its people to pursue a political or social objective.
Another requirement is that the attack must generate fear among the people, or create a situation of violence against individuals or property. This can include attacks that result in death, severe economic breakdown, and explosions, and attacks against critical infrastructures.[ii]”
Narrowing down to the Indian scenario, according to reports, the easiest way to attack India is through the cyber networks. Although it is cost-intensive but will spare the cyber-terrorists of risking manpower and, the impact of such an attack will be immense on the national economy and infrastructure. Cyber Terrorism is a crime that has emerged in recent times in India. Well, the laws through the implementation of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was a big step towards creating punishment for such offences.[iii] But due to the ever-changing and ever-evolving nature of the internet, the laws have become more or less ineffective. There is a need for innovative laws and global standards on preventive action.
Flaws in Cyber-Laws in India
India has gradually been shifting from traditional to e-governance, which can be observed from the fact that sectors like income tax, visa, and passports have been transformed into electronic form. This proves that India has started to rely heavily on technology. Other instances where we can see the reliance on technology are banking and financial institutions, travel sectors, e-commerce, and stock markets. Due to this, these sectors are considered to be lucrative targets to create havoc in the country. The damage done can be catastrophic and irreversible.[iv]
An individual is considered to be the smallest and most essential element to create a nation, and any crime against the individual should be considered as an important aspect for the government to maintain law and order. There is a wide range of attacks and vulnerabilities which can be considered as a crime against the Nation. The most important among them are:
Challenges faced by the Administration[v]
With almost all the countries adopting the e-governance infrastructure, India is also doing the same in the shape of e-administration.
The most important goal of e-governance is to make it easy for the citizens to interact with the offices of administration and to share the information with reliability and transparency. The main essential of democracy is that the people have the power to govern themselves and to do this effectively, they must be aware of every aspect of human society such as social, political, and economic issues. This form of governance thus becomes the primary target of terrorists to destroy the communication system.
When compared to other tangible damages that are caused by the activities of traditional terrorists this would be more disastrous. Thus terrorists have the ability to obtain the information illegally which has been protected from public access and in the interest of the nation.
Denial of Services Attack (DDoS):
The main ability of the network system is the availability of the system when required. When it comes to the administration or the government, the network has to be secure and robust with appropriate network information security due to the fact that it contains the data which are in the interest of the Nation and if this data is accessed by an unwanted entity, it can create a dangerous situation for the whole country. The online security experts in India thus suggest that online security stems should be strengthened because DDoS and defacing a site attach are the most used attacks.
Damage and Disruption of Networks
The primary objective of the actions resorted to by cyber terrorists is to damage or disrupt the networks, which helps in diverting the attention of the security agencies giving them extra time to make their task comparatively easier. This process can involve combinations of many many other attacks, such as virus attacks, tampering with electronic devices, or hacking. Due to this, around 6000 websites originating in India were defaced in 2009.[vi]
Challenges to Indian Cyber Security and Cyber Laws
There are a lot of reasons which have resulted in India’s cyber-security to such vulnerability to cyber-terrorism even after implementation of laws such as IT Act, 2000 and existing counter-cyber security initiatives such as National Informatics Centre (NIC), Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In), National Information Security Assurance Programme (NISAP), and Indo-US Cyber Security Forum (IUSCSF). Some of the reasons are mentioned as follows:
- Not only at the individual level but also at institutional levels, there is a deficiency of awareness and the culture of cyber-security.
- Lack of trained and qualified manpower to implement the counter-measures.
- Too many information security organizations which have become weak due to ‘turf wars’ or financial compulsions.
- A weak IT Act which has become redundant due to non-exploitation and age-old cyber laws.
- No e-mail account policy especially for the defense forces, police and the agency personnel.
- Cyber-attacks have not only come from terrorists but also from neighboring countries inimical to our National interest.
Suggestions/Measures to counter Cyber-Terrorism
While the threat is imminent and evergrowing with the new technologies, still there are some measures which can be taken up by common people as well the Government:
- Need to create awareness among the general public about the dangers of cyber terrorism. The counter cyber-terrorism bodies should follow an aggressive strategy and engage academic institutions
- Joint efforts by all Government agencies including defense forces to attract qualified skilled personnel for implementation of countermeasures.
- The organizations dealing with cybersecurity should be given all support and no bureaucratic dominance should be allowed.
- Agreements relating to cybersecurity should be given the same importance as other conventional agreements.
- More investment in this field including finance and manpower.
- Indian agencies working after cybersecurity should also keep a close vigil on the developments in the IT sectors of our potential adversaries.
- The use of digital signatures, encryption of data, security audit and cyber forensics should also be focused on as a subject matter of creating awareness.
- E-discovery investigation should also be given support to prevent cases of cyber crimes, corruption, and serious frauds.[vii]
- Bleeding edge technology to keep up with modern measures against cyber threats.
- Laws should meet requirements made by modern technology developments.
- With a combination of knowledge and expertise, a counter-cyber terrorism team can build an effective strategy for preventing cyber-terrorist incidents.
- More international co-operations are necessary for the eradication of the threat.[viii]
India is growing a lot in the IT sector with a lot of aspects of the governance and other sectors being computerised which have helped India develop but has also made it more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and cyber-terrorism. The current measures for these kinds of imminences are not enough. The rights steps have to be taken to help the country avoid any future threats that the country is prone to.
the author is pursuing BBA LLB (4th Year) from New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth to be Deemed University.
[i] Clarke, Richard A., Cyber War, Harper Collins (2010), ISBN 9780061962233.
[ii] Chaubey, Prof. R. K., Introduction to Cyber Crimes and Cyber Laws, Kamal Law House (Reprint 2015)
[iii] Praveen Dalal, Cybercrime and Cyberterrorism: Preventive Defense for Cyberspace Violations, Computer Crime Research Center (March 10, 2006).
[iv] Integrated Defence Staff, Gov. of Inda, Cyber Security in India, available at http://ids.nic.in/art_by_offids/Cyber%20security%20in%20india%20by%20Col%20SS%20Raghav.pdf
[v] Sharma Vakul, E-governance & Information Technology Act, 2000 (Information Technology Law and Practice Cyber Law & E-Commerce) Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.
[vi] New India Express, Hackers take heavy toll on Indian websites, available at https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2010/jul/15/hackers-take-heavy-toll-of-indian-websites-170023.html (July 15, 2010).
[vii] Insights on India, Cyber Security Related Issues: Comprehensive Coverage, available at http://www.insightsonindia.com/2014/11/25/cyber-security-related-issues-comprehensive-coverage/
[viii] Vladimir Golubev, Problems of Counteraction to Computer Crimes and Cyber Terrorism, Computer Crime Research Center, March 16, 2004.