Cyber Review

Cyber Review

Date: October 04, 2022

September saw further intrusions into Indian Cyber Space. A Bangladeshi hacktivist group “Mysterious Team Bangladesh (MT)”, reportedly comprising students, has been targeting Indian government websites with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against domains and subdomains of several Indian state governments. CERT-In has also alerted the general public regarding proliferation of a new banking 'Trojan' virus that can encrypt an Android phone for ransom and is hard to uninstall.

A draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022  along with a detailed explanatory note has been published for public consultation, seeking to streamline allocation of spectrum and amend provisions under the Universal Service Obligation Fund. The Bill enlarges the definition of telecommunication services, bringing Over-The-Top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, satellite-based communication services, Internet and broadband services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, etc., under the ambit of the proposed law.

A recent Joint study by Deloitte and CII found that the low latency and high speed of 5G, coupled with the satellite internet broadband, can provide a significant convergence of the telecom ecosystem which will help to bridge the urban-rural divide. Local manufacturing of network equipment under the “Make in India” programme will also contribute to reforms and national security. Deployment of the 700 MHZ band is also expected to contribute to the goal of providing enhanced coverage.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has started consultations with stakeholders, including the Department of Space (DoS) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), to seek views on allocation methodology of satellite spectrum.

India is expected to consume $80–90 billion of semiconductor chips by 2030, but at present it imports nearly 100 percent of its commercial semiconductor products. Thanks to the $10 billion incentive announced by the Government in December 2021, several conglomerates have decided to invest in domestic production of semiconductors. A Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture has announced an investment of $ 19.5 billion in India's first chip factory in Gujarat which will include a semiconductor fab unit, a display fab unit, and a semiconductor assembling and testing unit. Besides Vedanta, a consortium comprising Dubai-based NextOrbit and Israeli technology firm Tower Semiconductor has concluded a deal with the Karnataka government for a plant in Mysuru, while Singapore-based IGSS Venture has chosen Tamil Nadu as the location for its semiconductor unit. Reportedly, the government is also open to investments in India by Chinese entities that offer technology and production capabilities to Apple Inc. in India, for which there is no alternative available.

The US has issued a license to “expand the range of internet services” available to Iranians, amidst massive protests in Iran following the custodial death of a female activist and restrictions placed by Iran on internet social media.  This came in response to a request by Elon Musk for exemption of sanctions on Iran while offering the services of the satellite-internet system ‘Starlink’ to provide alternative communications to Iranians.

Twitter whistle-blower Peiter Zatko testified before the US Congress that the platform ignored security concerns in favour of financial incentives to executives to maximise profits. He alleged that the company was not properly tracking data access, required to respond to critical national security risks, including access gained by potential foreign agents.

Thailand and Vietnam have become the top crypto-trading hubs among the 10 members of the ASEAN.  Beijing is leading the race among global central banks in the research and application of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC), to move away from the dollar based financial system that is at the heart of all sanctions imposed by the US.

Foreign Ministers of the QUAD countries met in New York and committed to practical and result oriented cooperation to address the global threat of ransomware, which has been an obstacle to Indo-Pacific economic development. The meeting appreciated the progress made by the 36 countries supporting the U.S.-led Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI).

14 member nations of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), including India, met on September 8-9, and agreed to increase resiliency and investment in critical sectors and goods. The Group resolved to consider creating a formal system for sharing semiconductor devices, medical products, and other vital supplies during international emergencies. The IPEF joint statement includes the goal of establishing a crisis management mechanism for supply chains.