Information Warfare: The South Asian Cyber War Threat


September 17, 2009: Pakistan and India are upgrading their Cyber War capabilities, partly by calling on allies for help. India has become a big customer of Israeli military equipment, and this now includes assistance in protecting themselves from Cyber War threats, especially from Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan has found China to be a useful source of Cyber War technology. While Israel has some of the best Internet engineers on the planet, China has a reputation for aggressively and shamelessly using Cyber War techniques for espionage and stealing industrial secrets.

All this is nothing new. Two years ago, Pakistan spent $3 million to establish a Center For Cyber Crime. This was the result of several trends. First, the national economy is increasingly dependent on Internet access. Without some kind of national level Internet security, the country becomes a more attractive target for the growing number of hacker organizations. Second, Islamic terrorists have been making heavy use of the Internet for communications. American intelligence agencies, working in Pakistan with local police, have demonstrated the wide array of unclassified techniques and equipment available to monitor terrorist use, protect the Internet, and hunt down criminals using it. The government does not want to be as dependent on the Americans for these services, and the Americans are unwilling to share their most valuable Internet technology.

While the American help was welcome, Pakistan has a large, and growing, software development industry. In fact, the first known computer virus, the "Brain Virus" was written by Pakistani programmers in 1986. "Brain" was created to help protect software a Pakistani firm was selling, from software pirates. But, instead, the Brain virus got out of control, and the rest is history. Pakistan has a lot of home grown talent for their computer crime center.

Finally, there is the ongoing "war" between Indian and Pakistani hackers. Most of this has been little more than vandalism (defacing web pages and the like), but there have been some more serious hacks. So the government wanted to be ready on the Cyber War front. The Cyber War battles between Pakistani and Indian civilian hackers, and professionals working for government agencies, has upped the ante. India, in particular, has one of the largest Internet software and service industries on the planet. Thus India has much to defend, and the potential to become a Cyber War superpower. The Cyber War battles in South Asia are becoming more frequent, and more intense.



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