Information Warfare: June 11, 2005

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The Indian armed forces have, in effect, challenged Pakistani hackers to try and penetrate their Internet systems. The Indian military recently announced that they had fortified their Internet infrastructure with "multi-layered and world class defenses". The reason for this goes back to 1998 when, in the wake of Indias nuclear weapons tests, groups of Pakistani hackers began a program of defacing Indian military (as well as government and commercial) web sites. This campaign peaked in 2002, but continues today. What worried Indian commanders was the threat of Pakistani hackers getting into army servers and getting away with secret information. More worrisome was the possibility that the Pakistanis might develop cyberweapons for use in wartime, to shut down Indias growing network of computers. Some Pakistani hackers had already been caught penetrating some government servers. 

In early 2004, as relations between India and Pakistan warmed up, the informal organization of Pakistani hackers declared a truce. Attacks have declined since then, but the vulnerability remains. There is some fear that the Indian announcement of their improved defenses may tempt some of the Pakistani cyberwar irregulars to test just how well fortified the Indians are. None of these hackers work for the Pakistani government which, officially, discourages this sort of mischief. But Pakistan has a significant software industry. The first know computer virus, the Brain Virus, was created in Pakistan in 1986. The talent is there. The Indians have to deal with the fact that Pakistanis could, with sufficient motivation, cause some real trouble to Indians growing Internet infrastructure. 

The Indian army also announced that they had converted their wireless (mostly radio) military communications to frequency hopping equipment. These radios are much harder to jam, or listen in on. But the major vulnerability remain the Internet.

 


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