In the absence of international harmonisation, the concept like cyber warfare still haunts the international community. This is also the main reason for blame game for various cyber attacks. However, mere suspicion or blame without actual authorship attribution for cyber attacks can produce only insignificantly beneficial results.
Recently India and US had signed a cyber security cooperation agreement. Now North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has sought stronger cooperation with India to counter growing cyber threats, particularly emanating from China. Top NATO officials listed cyber security very high on the list of possible areas of cooperation, which included counter-terrorism, missile defence and anti-piracy operations.
“The cyber world does not recognise alignments. It only understands switches,” said a top NATO official during a briefing to visiting Indian journalists, while making a strong pitch for joint efforts to combat cyber threats.
The NATO official made this remark in context of India’s sensitivity against military alliances and its commitment to non-alignment. He suggested this could be a functional alignment in which both sides could give and take.
“India has an advanced cyber and IT industry and is very strong in cyber issues”, he said, hinting that India and NATO can cooperate in this field. Democracies face challenges that are common. As democracies we can have a dialogue, as we deal with issues differently… We need to work together, because individually we cannot. It is better to deal with such issues commonly than deal with them individually.”
He added that even though the threats were different, the nature of our responses could be similar, while seeing India as a strong partner with NATO on various issues. Though he did not mention any of India’s neighbours from where the cyber attack challenge came, he hinted at China from where such threats had come in the recent past.
Seeking a partnership on matters relating to cyber security, the official pointed out that India and NATO had already reached at a tactical level understanding in dealing with piracy and shared a strategic level understanding in countering terrorism. Incidentally, in July this year some anonymous hackers had targeted NATO in a cyber attack and it decided recently to create a special task force to detect and respond to such attacks by beefing up its cyber defence network. While the United States has already signed a cyber security collaboration with India this July, the 28-nation political and military alliance is of the view that it can collaborate with it in protecting its cyber systems. NATO’s 2010 Summit in Lisbon also recognised the growing threat of cyber attacks and sought to ally with partner nations to step its cyber security.