Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that China was capable of carrying out cyber attacks on India, which could disrupt a number of systems, PTI reported. He added that India was trying to develop a system to defend itself against such threats.
Rawat, while speaking at a webinar, noted that China had a lead over India when it came to technology. He added that the “biggest differential” between India and China was in the field of cyber domain.
The chief of defence staff added that China had been able to invest substantial amount of funds in technology, The Indian Express reported. “We [India] have been a little slow on the start, therefore over the years a capability differential has come in,” he said. “They certainly have a lead over us. We are also evolving technologies to make sure we come on par with them.”
Rawat said that India had created a cyber agency within the armed forces to counter the Chinese threats. “Each service also has its own cyber agency to ensure that even if we come under a cyber attack, the down time and the effect of the cyber attack does not last long,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “We should be able to overcome that cyber attack and continue with the systems either through an alternate means or preventive means through firewalls.
The chief of defence staff added that India may not be able to catch up with China completely, so it was trying to get the required support from Western countries.
Rawat noted that India could overcome its technological deficit by integrating the resources of the Navy, Air Force and Army. “I would unhesitatingly say that the Navy is far ahead than the Army and the Air Force as far as the way they are imbibing technology,” he said, according to PTI.
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Last month, two reports of China’s attempts to target India’s critical infrastructure emerged. One of the reports, released by a United States private cybersecurity firm, suggested that a Chinese cyber campaign targeted India’s power grid, months after the Galwan Valley clash in June, in which soldiers from both the countries were killed.
The report raised questions about a possible link between the clash and a power blackout that brought India’s financial capital Mumbai to a standstill in October. Indian media had reported that authorities suspected that a malware attack had caused the outage. Meanwhile, the Centre claimed that no data breach took place because of the Chinese malware attack.
The second report showed that a hacking group backed by China targeted the systems of Indian coronavirus vaccine manufacturers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.
Border tensions flared up in June after deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clashes. China identified the casualties on its side only in February, saying that four soldiers died.
The talks between the militaries of the two countries began soon after the clashes. However, a breakthrough came only in February as Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Parliament about the disengagement agreement reached between India and China.
The disengagement process along Pangong Tso in Ladakh began on February 10, as military commanders began pulling out troops, tanks and artillery from the area in the first step towards full withdrawal. The process has been completed. On February 20, India and China held commander-level talks to discuss pulling back from other areas.