Securing India’s cyberspace

Source– The post is based on the article “Securing India’s cyberspace” published in The Indian Express on 17th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Basics of cyber security

Relevance– Military application of quantum technology and its challenges for internal security.

News- The article explains the vulnerability of India cyberspace due to military applications of quantum technology. It also suggests the way forward to deal with these challenges.

What are advances by India in the field of quantum technology?

The Indian Army is developing cryptographic techniques to make its networks resistant to attacks by systems with quantum capabilities.

In 2019, the Centre declared quantum technology a “mission of national importance”. The Union Budget 2020-21 had proposed to spend Rs 8,000 crore on the newly launched National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.

A joint team of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and IIT Delhi has successfully demonstrated a QKD link between two cities in UP, Prayagraj and Vindhyachal.

Why is there a need for quantum-resistant systems for cybersecurity?

Traditional encryption models at risk. The current encryption standards that can be broken by quantum cryptography. There are increasing military applications of quantum technology.

India will have to proactively deal with cyber risks arising from quantum computing advances by some nations in this sector. For example, the US National Quantum Initiative Act has already allocated $1.2 billion for research in defence-related quantum technology. China now hosts two of the world’s fastest quantum computers.

Another vulnerability is India’s dependence on foreign hardware, particularly from China.

What is the way forward for India?

India must consider procuring the United States National Security Agency’s Suite B Cryptography Quantum-Resistant Suite as its official encryption mechanism. It is resistant to quantum cyberattacks.

The Indian defence establishment can consider emulating the cryptographic standards set by the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

India must start its national initiatives to develop quantum-resistant systems. For this, the government can fund and encourage existing open-source projects related to post-quantum cryptography. It can also have active participation in the Open Quantum Safe project, a global initiative started in 2016 for prototyping and integrating quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms.

The country should start implementing and developing capabilities in quantum-resistant communications, specifically for critical strategic sectors. Quantum key distribution can be used for connecting military outposts. This will help in establishing a nationwide communication network integrated with quantum cryptographic systems.

Diplomatic partnerships with other countries with top technology sectors, advanced economies, and a commitment to liberal democracy can help India pool resources and mitigate emerging quantum cyber threats.

Read More: Quantum Computing: Uses, Challenges and India’s Initiatives – Explained, pointwise
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