Cyberspace is a complex environment consisting of interactions between people, software and services, supported by worldwide distribution of information and

communication technology devices and networks.

 

With the Information Technology gaining the centre stage, nations across the world are experimenting with innovative ideas for economic development and inclusive growth. An increasing proportion of the world’s population is migrating to cyberspace to communicate, enjoy, learn, and conduct commerce. It has also created new vulnerabilities and opportunities for disruption.

 

Importance :

 

The number of Internet users has doubled between 2005 and 2010 and surpasses 2 billion.

Users are connecting through a range of devices from the personal computer (PC) to the mobile phone, and using the Internet for a variety of purposes from communication to e-commerce, to data storage for several services.

 

Issues : As we grow more dependent on the Internet for our daily activities, we also become more vulnerable to any disruptions caused in and through cyberspace.

 

Cyber threats can be disaggregated, based on the perpetrators and their motives, into four baskets:

 

  1. Cyber Espionage,
  2. Cyber Crime
  3. Cyber Terrorism
  4. Cyber Warfare
  5. Cyber Espionage:

 

1.Cyber espionage is “The use of computer networks to gain illicit access to confidential information, typically that held by a government or other organization.”

 

Instances of cyber espionage are becoming quite common, with regular reports of thousands of megabytes of data and intellectual property worth millions being exfiltrated from the websites and N/Ws of both government and private enterprises.

 

  1. Cyber Crime/ Cyber Attacks :

 

Cyber-attack is “any type of offensive maneuver employed by individuals or whole organizations that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks with an intention to damage or destroy targeted computer network or system.”

 

The increasing online population has proved a happy hunting ground for cyber criminals, with losses due to cyber-crime being in billions of dollars worldwide.

 

  1. Cyber terrorism:

 

Cyber terrorism is the convergence of terrorism and cyber space.

Given the increasing dependency of the Indian economic and financial institutions on IT, a cyber-attack against them might lead to an irreparable collapse of our economic structures.

 

  1. Cyber Warfare: The Fifth domain of warfare

 

Cyber Warfare may be defined as “actions by a nation-state or its proxies to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of espionage, causing damage or disruption”.

 

Suggestions :

 

(i) There must be enhanced cooperation among nations and reaffirmed a global call to action for all United Nations member nations to not attack the core of the Internet even when in a state of war. This also clearly emphasises the fact that more than ever before, there is a need for a Geneva-like Convention to agree on some high-level recommendations among nations to keep the Internet safe, open, universal and interoperable.

 

(ii) At the Global Conference on Cyber Space held in New Delhi in November 2017, following steps were listed:

 

An International Cyber Disarmament Commission or a forum similar to the existing Conference on Disarmament.

 

An open-ended working group or a smaller committee nominated by the UN General Assembly.

 

(iii) Creating assurance framework to promote adoption of best practices.

 

(iv) Government should create secure cyber-ecosystem and enable adequate trust and confidence in electronic transactions and also guiding stakeholders actions for protection of cyberspace.

 

Above all to tackle the challenges associated with cyberspace, States must be sufficiently enthused to work together on establishing regulatory frameworks, be it in the form of treaties or binding norms.

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